Articles tagged with: falcio val mond

Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

This year’s birthday brought with it one of the most bittersweet gifts in the world: Tyrant’s Throne, the final installment in Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series. I received this book (signed by the author) as a birthday gift from one of my musketeers (who is super awesome, btw, and you should totally go follow Shiri on Twitter because she writes some pretty excellent stuff for nerds like you and me!) It was a fitting gift, you see, because Shiri actually turned me onto the Greatcoats a couple of years ago, a recommendation I have been eternally grateful for because I adore this story and these characters more than you can even imagine. Every year when a new book came out, Shiri ordered a signed, hardcover edition from the UK because they always seem to get the these books about two months before us. This year, she ordered one for me as well because the release just so happened to fall around my birthday. I have the most amazing and thoughtful friends, seriously!

Of course, on the day it arrived I dropped everything else I was reading and dove right in because I knew this was it… the grand finale, and I was anxious to see how this story ended. We followed Falcio Val Mond, Kest Murrowson, and Brasti Goodbow through a great many terrible things, and I was beginning to wonder how de Castell could possibly make their lives any worse. I never doubted him, honestly. He is an authorial mastermind, and he did not disappoint.

Squeeee!

Squeeee!

After years of hardship and more near-death encounters than one man should ever be forced to endure, Falcio Val Mond continues to hold true to his king’s plan: put Aline, the king’s heir, on the throne and restore law and order to Tristia. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong! The nobles, who’ve dominated the kingdom since they dethroned and killed King Paelis, follow their own set of laws. They have no love for the peasantry, and even less for the Greatcoats. It’s no surprise to discover they will stop at nothing to prevent the child who would be queen from taking the throne. To make matters worse, the trio’s longtime nemesis, Trin, has been stirring trouble. Sent to capture and bring her back for trial, Falcio not only uncovers Trin’s next plot, but what happened to the missing Greatcoats he’s been searching for, and they’ve got plans of their own.

As powers collide, the fallout is enough to destroy a kingdom that’s been on the verge of collapse for years. For once, Falcio’s skills as a lawful orator committed to his king’s vision don’t seem as though they’ll be strong enough to hold it all together. As everything he’s worked for crumbles through his hands like so much dust, even Falcio has no idea how in the world he’s going to save Tristia this time.

As far as final installments go, this was an incredibly satisfying read. Adventure, swashbuckling, justice, hardship, and joy… I used half a box of tissues during the last half of the book, but I used them gladly. Tragic, beautiful, gripping… I was sad to see the adventures of my three favorite Greatcoats come to an end, but a part of me is hopeful we haven’t seen the last of Falcio, Kest, and Brasti.

Five out of five stars, I highly recommend this entire series to lovers of adventure, fantasy, and outstanding storytelling!

If you’re interested in my thoughts on the overall series, check out my reviews of the first three books here:

Traitor’s Blade

Knight’s Shadow

Saint’s Blood

Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell

Saint's BloodI can’t believe a year went by since I began my epic tantrum over the seemingly endless wait for the next book in Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series. I think having so many Robin Hobb books to read spoiled me a little because I wanted to read Saint’s Blood the minute I blubbered over the final word in Knight’s Shadow, and couldn’t imagine how I would possibly last the year. I did make it, though it was a burden every time I remembered it wasn’t April yet, and found myself scrabbling to NetGalley the moment I knew it was being offered by the publisher to reviewers. That being said, I received my electronic copy of Saint’s Blood from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It’s time for me to hold up my end of the bargain, so onto the review.

Falcio val Mond is tired, and honestly, who can blame him? It’s been a long life tempered by loss, brief stints of madness, and a seemingly endless fight for a country that doesn’t seem to care enough about itself to rise to join the battle. As a Greatcoat, one of Tristia’s legendary law enforcers, the very people Falcio continues to sacrifice himself to protect despise his very existence. Trattari, Tattercloak, and just about every other foul name they can muster is thrown at the feet of all Greatcoats who walks Tristia–given all that’s happened over the last few years there aren’t exactly many left.

While the nobility split hairs over their agreement to support young Aline, the only surviving heir of King Paelis, as she ascends to the throne, an even graver obstacle looms on the horizon. Someone has discovered how to kill the Saints that walk the land, and their first victim is a close, personal friend of the Greatcoats. Arriving at the ducal palace shortly after an exhausted Falcio nearly loses a duel, a strange madwoman clad in a horrifying iron mask breaks through, and it’s almost too late they realize she is no enemy, but a beloved Saint whose offered aid and comfort to the trio in the past.

Killing a Saint isn’t something anyone ever imagined possible, but as they offer their friend comfort in her final hours, the Greatcoats learn she is not the only Saint to fall to the darkest curse to touch Tristia pretty much since Trin’s birth. Saints are disappearing all over the land, and rising in their place a whole new evil: the God’s Needles. Mad with power, nearly unstoppable in their violent assaults, Falcio, Kest, and Brasti must discover who’s behind the this wretched plot, and time is of the essence because one of their beloved Greatcoats falls victim to the iron mask.

I don’t know if you read my review of Knight’s Shadow, or not, but I noted within I am in love with the noble ideal that one man, no matter how exhausted or pained, no matter how broken and distraught, no matter how blind and foolish, has the power to make his world a better place.  Falcio is exhausted, he’s ready to throw in the towel at times because no matter what he does, someone is always standing in the way of his making the world a better place, and the toll it has taken on his soul is as painful as it is brilliant.

duellingThis book… I swear there are no words to describe how much I enjoyed every word of this book. The writing is clever and exquisite, each character voice unique and vibrant, and the relationships between the core characters is absolutely brilliant. Characters we’ve known since Traitor’s Blade have become precious imaginary friends, and when bad things happen to them (because, come on, if you’ve ever read these books you already know bad things ALWAYS happen to the people Falcio surrounds himself with,) it feels like a dagger jabbing into my heart.

I took my time with this book because I know another’s coming, and I know it will probably be at least another year, maybe longer, before I can read it (I’m dying inside, seriously,) but there were moments while I was reading that completely sucked me in and I couldn’t stop because I had to know my beloved imaginary friends were safe.

Highly recommended if you like adventure, dueling, tension, dueling, and wit with a twist of fantasy, oh and did I mention there’s some fabulous dueling. I give Saint’s Blood 5 out of 5 stars and find myself hoping de Castell decides he can’t possibly end this story and continues writing about the Greatcoats forever.

Saint’s Blood is currently available in the United Kingdom, and will release in the U.S. on June 7, 2016. I cannot wait until this is available in the U.S. so I can add the physical book to my collection and devour it all over again.

P.S. I think I might be in love with Kest, and I don’t care who knows it.

Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell

Knight's Shadow de Castell

Fine, I thought. Let it be just as Heryn said. Let them tell stories of Falcio the fool; of Falcio, who like a child, believed that the world can change just because you want it to.

traitor's bladeTo say I have been waiting a lifetime for this book would be a minor exaggeration. After all, I only recently discovered the Greatcoats a couple of months ago in their debut novel, Traitor’s Blade. After I finished Traitor’s Blade, I wanted more, and to say I was excited to see there wasn’t an epic wait for the second installment, Knight’s Shadow, would be an understatement.

The land is in chaos, which is really nothing new. The country’s one shot at peace and stability was assassinated five years earlier, when the Dukes banded together to put down Tyrant King Paelis. Still loyal to his beloved king, even in death, Falcio val Mond–The King’s Heart, will do anything to keep Paelis’s heir, Aline, safe from harm. In a game of power, there are those who would do more than just harm Aline. Many want her dead, while others would do anything to see her on her father’s throne–even if it means betraying everything right and good to put her there.

For five years the true power of the realm has reigned with collective iron fist, pushing the common rabble further into the mud with one hand, while stabbing one another in the backs the other. The Dukes have no love for the King’s Greatcoats–the men and women granted the power to uphold the King’s law. People in the land loathe them, calling them Trattari and Tattercloak, believing them to be the most corrupt and dishonorable people in the land. No matter how much the world rails against them, however, Falcio refuses to give in, instead staying true to the values and expectations of a king he still serves in his heart. When someone begins mysteriously killing off Dukes and their families, it’s up to the Greatcoats to make things right, even if it means sacrificing every part of themselves to do so.

Despite the fantasy elements of this story, the concepts within are incredibly relative. The fight to remain true to one’s values, no matter the cost. The strength it requires to be a force of good in a world that’s chosen to wallow in its own corruption. The conviction one must cling to if they want to truly rise above the half-hearted expectations of those who’ve decided its easier to look the other way than do the right thing…

musketeers gif

The Musketeers BBC

There is something about the way Sebastien de Castell tells a story that resonates long after you close the book. For weeks I will walk around thinking about Falcio, Kest, Brasti, Valiana, Dariana and even Ugh. I will wait impatiently for the third book in the series, Tyrant’s Throne, which I hope will release sometime in 2016. I will spend hours contemplating the nature of corruption, the purity of true valour, the strength and power of love, the nature of childlike belief that allows us to change the world simply because we want to.

I started reading these books because I love The Three Musketeers, and a friend who knew that recommended it to me. I keep reading them because I am in love with the noble ideal that one man, no matter how exhausted or pained, no matter how broken and distraught, no matter how blind and foolish, has the power to make his world a better place.

Knight’s Shadow is currently available for sale in the UK in paperback and ebook, and will be available in the U.S. June 2, 2015. I received a copy of this book from Quercus through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It doesn’t get any more honest than this. I cannot wait until June, when I can hold the hardcover version of this book in my hands and start the adventure all over again.

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

traitor's blade

Remember when I was reading The Name of the Wind, and I said usually the right book comes exactly when you need it? The same thing happened to me with Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian de Castell. I’d just come off a 2 day binge of the BBC’s Three Musketeers and felt like I needed more. Even though the new season started, one new episode was not enough to sate the hunger. It has been decades since I read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, so I was about to crack that open and dive in when Shiri, my fellow pen-dueling musketeer said, “You need to read THIS book.” (For Shiri’s review of Traitor’s Blade, drop by the Last Chance Salon, and while you’re there have a listen to the podcast. It’ll be fun for you, I promise.)

Now, onto this book, which, like I said above, was exactly what I wanted to read at the precise time I wished to read it.

Falcio val Mond, the narrator and hero of this tale, has pretty much been through hell, not once, but twice. It’s more or less like he has a permanent cell there and they let him out from time to time to be further tortured by all of life’s little cruelties. The losses he’s suffered have filled him with a darkness that seems to rear its ugly head when he least expects, often bringing him back from battles in a stunned daze, blood still dripping from his hand as his enemy’s head still rocks gently on the earth at his feet.

The story begins in the middle of a rather boring job, Falcio and his fellow Greatcoats, Brasti and Kest, guarding a man they can barely stand. When they realize it sounds less like he’s rutting his female companion and more like he’s being murdered and snipped to bits, they bust in and become instantly embroiled in the dark plot that will carry them through the remainder of the story. Fleeing accusations of murder and thievery, Falcio, Brasti and Kest find themselves hired on to protect a caravan carrying a powerful woman to meet with her father.

Balancing present moments with memories of Falcio’s past, we learn early on that the Greatcoats (often referred to by the people as tattercloaks or trattori) were all given special missions by their  king before the Dukes seized power, disbanded the Greatcoats and killed the king. It’s years since the king’s death, years of disgrace and distrust from the people, of the Dukes’ iron-fisted rule throughout the land, and though his best friends have grown weary of searching, Falcio refuses to give up on the last request of his friend and king.

This is a story about honor and friendship, about one man’s quest to find not just the answers to the king’s frustrating riddle, but the part of him that was lost when tragedy began smearing itself across his life like bloodied fingers. It delves dangerously into political topics that are still relative to the world we live in, as politicians rule the masses, taking for themselves and cutting down anyone else who dares to stand in their way.

crying girlFalcio is a witty storyteller, sometimes thoughtful in the most heartbreaking ways, and the banter between the three friends is reminiscent of the playful antics I have always loved about the Three Musketeers. de Castell drew me effortlessly into a tale I did not want to put down, even when I could no longer keep my eyes open while reading in bed at night. When I reached the end, I jumped for joy when I saw on de Castell’s twitter profile the second book, Knight’s Shadow, was scheduled for release in March. Conflicting Amazon information drove us to ask him when we could really expect it and he confirmed that it was, indeed, coming out in March… for UK readers, and then in June for those of us with the misfortune to call the United States home. *Insert dramatic wailing here* He says we could potentially blackmail the publisher, Quercus, into releasing earlier, but I’m having a little trouble digging up the necessary dirt for that level of extortion. If you, or anyone you know, has any information that could be used to potentially pry that book from Quercus’s hands earlier than June, I’m sure we could work something out. Help each other, you know, that sort of… thing.

I was going to rate this 4.5 out of 5 stars, but the fact that one of the scenes I was reading while on the elliptical actually brought tears to my eyes, it gets a full-fledged 5 stars from me! Highly recommended if you love adventure with a very light fantastic twist. Go forth, yon readers, and devour these words.