“The First Law is that men are free, for without the freedom to choose, men cannot serve their heart, and without heart they cannot serve their Gods, their Saints, or their King.”
The plot of the first book can be considered simply as the long prelude or foundation to the rest of the series. The Greatcoats have been disbanded and our main characters, Falcio, Kest and Brasti are now working as a bodyguard, a decline from their previous work as the one who uphold the law of the king before his death despite them still wearing the greatcoats. However, before his death, the king assigned one last mission to the three MC to find his Charoites, which is pretty much unknown to almost everyone and so their search for Charoites began.
Taking place in the nation of Tristia, the story is strictly told from Falcio’s POV in 1st person with a little bit of a mix to 2nd perspective that made it seem like Falcio is talking to us, the reader resulting in great immersive result. Although the main plot seemed simple, it doesn’t mean that there’s no danger to be found here, there’s plenty of them and the story can be really gripping with its cruelty, despicable villain, injustice, torture and violence despite the light-hearted and fun banter between the three main characters. I flew through this book within two days for its quality as a page turner especially the second half of the book but the best quality for this debut lies not in its plot but in the characters and actions.
"We're going to get a terrible reputation if we just keep travelling across the countryside crying all the time.”
The book in general is about Falcio, his dark past, his resolution, and his determination to uphold his sense of justice and promise to the late king. This is why there aren’t enough interactions between the Greatcoats overall but every conversations and banter between them are fun to read, providing a sense of strong camaraderie reminiscent of The Three Musketeers. Although Falcio has a lot of exposure to his character, with the story going back and forth between the past and present through his eyes, Kest and Brasti didn’t receive the same treatment, but I’m okay with it since this is still the first book out of four, we have many more opportunities for their characters. Not only the three MC interactions are fun to read, the book consists of intriguing female characters, right from the protagonists to the despicable villain.
Even though this is still the first book of the series, Sebastien has clearly shown how well he understood the art of fencing and archery. Every action sequences featuring Falcio’s fencing/duel or Brasti’s archery were well written with intricacy, showing every movement of the battles step by step and as someone who did a bit of fencing (in middle school) and archery sometimes, it pleased me to show great these actions are. (I should note though that Brasti's skill as an archer could rivaled Legolas from Lord of the Rings with ease.)
Picture: Falcio val Mond (Traitor’s Blade French cover)
In terms of prose, Sebastien’s prose is very accessible for everyone. It’s simple, easy to read and he knows how to structure his words and sentences that made the story flow easily. I was actually surprised to find out that the book was told in the 1st person narrative, I thought it will be done in 3rd person told through the three MC’s POV but he really made it work. As I said before, this book is quite an excellent page turner during the second half and that's all doable only because of its apt prose.
Sadly, there's two problem I had with the book that bothered me a bit, the Deus ex Machina moments. I won’t spoil you on what these events are in case you somehow missed it during your read but on my count, there are at least three of these moments. Maybe it will be explained more in the sequels or not I have no idea but for now, I can’t deny the fact that these moments should have more proper explanation other than leaving it the way it is or leaving it for future sequels. Another tiny annoyance I had with the book is that I felt the world-building section needed more exposure, there's still so much we don't know about the Gods, the Saints but then again, this is still the first book and I can look past this one.
In the end, these problems didn’t ruin my overall experience of the book that much; it’s just that the book had more potential to be better by fixing its convenient plot devices and by having more world-building sections in my opinion. Traitor’s Blade is still a great, fun and gripping debut which I envisioned will serve as a foundation for the rest of the series and from what I heard, it only gets so much better with each book and I can’t wait to let myself be enthralled with more stories of the Greatcoats.
"My name is Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, and this was only the first of a great many bad days to come"