Sunday, 8 October 2017

REVIEW: Traitor's Blade by Sebastien De Castell

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The book has sat on my shelf altogether too long (as many do, sadly) and I was goaded into reading it by a friend who said I would like it. She was not wrong.

I'm giving this 5* since it's a gripping read with genuine emotion and excitement, and solid writing. I have a couple of niggles but they're minor in the grand scheme of things.

Basically this is the three musketeers in a fantasy setting. Well, that's unfair... The Three Musketeers is what springs to mind and gives you the vibe. The characters and plot aren't the same at all.

It's written in first person from the point of view of Falcio, one of our three rapier-wielding servants of the king from an elite military group. The trio get in and out of scrapes while a larger scenario unfolds, interwoven with flashbacks to fill in our hero's past and how the current (dire) situation arose.

As fantasy goes most of the story is very magic-light. There are plenty of fight scenes and de Castell does a good enough job at rapier-porn to convince the ignorant (i.e. me) that he knows what he's talking about ... which he may well do.

There are a number of quite harsh scenes, including some torture, but the mood is often raised by the main character's humour and the banter he has with his two companions.

The scattered musketeers (or Greatcoats as we must call them ... and we're given reason to use the sartorial boast as their coats really are quite great and relevant to the theme/plot) have been sworn to a range of secret tasks by their king and this gives considerable scope for twists and turns plus plenty of mileage for later books. Falcio's task is on the face of it rather nonsensical since he's looking for something and doesn't know what it is. While the task is rather Zen, by the end of the book I still didn't really have a feeling for why his instructions had been so vague ... but again when you mix the threads of fate into the mix and a guiding hand ... I don't have a leg to stand on.

My other niggles really concern the nature of some of Falcio's close shaves where grim and hopeless situations are rather deflated by the 'romantic' (not as in romance) nature of the escape, and by the upsurge in magic toward the end where fate and pre-destiny seem to overwhelm coincidence and logic giving events a rather arbitrary feel.

Oooo! One last niggle! When you cut an arrow in half mid-air with a sword ... it doesn't end up on the ground at your feet. At the very least the front half is going to carry on its merry way and quite possibly kill whoever it was aimed at if they're not too far off.

The take-home message, not to be over-shadowed by my nit-picking, is that this is a great read and you should definitely try it!




You can go like my review on Goodreads if you like.





An index of my reviews.

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