Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.
Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.
All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn.
Traitor’s Blade took me back to Saturday Afternoons, on the couch watching Hollywood Classic Movies on TV. This was and still is a guilty pleasure. I remember the 1948 version of Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly and Vincent Price. Or Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed’s fight scene in the 1973 remake. The gallantry and dare devil antics of Errol Flynn in his varies incarnations, or the nobility and sacrifice of Charlton Heston in El Cid.
All glorious escapism. And so is this book.
Falcio Val Mond is a man of nobility, strength, honour and intelligence. He is a charming but damaged human being who continues to try and uphold the wishes of his dead king. Falcio, Kest and Brasti are for better or worst Great Coats. They were the embodiment and enforcers of the kings law. They are now reviled outcasts forced to work as mercenaries, guards or lose all and become criminals. Theirs is a world of corruption, violence and black magic. The Dukes and their allies slipped into the vacuum created by the kings death and they are robbing, raping, killing and grinding the people under their rule. Will the late kings secrets be discovered and aid given to save the land of Tristia?
The fight scenes are wonderful, well described and vivid. The callous cruelty and deviousness of some characters shocking. I enjoyed the twists and turns in this tale. I loved the banter and humour. I was deeply affected by the physical suffering and also the touches of joy and kindness. I am looking forward to book two in this series and what happens to these characters.
SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL, PROFILE & INTERVIEW:
Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.
Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.
BCN: When did you realize you wanted to write? Is it something that you have done since childhood, or was there something that happened in adulthood that caused you to start?
SDC: The idea of being a writer started for me in an odd way: when I was about ten years old my mother told my brother and I that my father, who had passed away not long before, didn’t have enough in his pension fund for us to live comfortably. My mother decided that the simplest and easiest way to make money was to write novels and wanted my brother and I to know in advance so that we wouldn’t be embarrassed when her books were published. She proceeded to write two of the least romantic love stories ever conceived. Despite all that, what really stuck with me was the way my mother thought of writing as simply a natural human activity – something we could all do if we set ourselves to the task. Years later I decided I’d write a book. My first one was a rather terrible mystery novel but I couldn’t believe how rewarding it was to complete it. Over the next decade or so I wrote several books, one of which became Traitor’s Blade.
BCN: What author’s or books have you have found inspirational?
SDC: Because I’ve worked in different fields within the entertainment industry I tend to draw from a wide range of influences that span novelists, comic writers, filmmakers and sometimes even designers. Authors such as Roger Zelazny and his Nine Princes in Amber were a big influence on me – you never knew what was coming at you next in that novel. Fantasy’s my first love, so writers like Steven Brust and Charles de Lint influenced my sense of character. But I also find inspiration in guys like C.S. Forester (writer of the Horatio Hornblower adventure stories) and Raymond Chandler (noir pioneer who gave us Sam Spade.)
Aaron Sorkin, who writes largely for television and film (notably, The West Wing), is unmatched for my taste when it comes to dialogue and making even small moments between characters feel dramatic. Finally, because I write fantasy and adventure, I have to think about balancing the more bombastic nature of heroic characters with a more grounded approach to personal relationships. Brian Michael Bendis does this brilliantly with super-heroic figures, as do a number of new comic writers out there.
BCN: Do you stick to a routine when writing? Or does spontaneity help the creative process? Do you do pots of research prior to beginning?
SDC: My basic process is to go running a lot and develop story ideas by seeing what grabs me in that state of pushing myself physically. I’ll then turn those into beat sheets for scenes and, when I think there’s enough magic there to build something I believe in, I’ll construct an outline. Of course, it all goes off the rails pretty quickly when things you expected to work fall apart and other, often more interesting things, take their place.
BCN: How do your ideas come to you? Some writers have dreams, some hear a phrase or a story from history. What has given you that “Yes!” moment?
SDC: For me it’s often the intersection between a particular thought and a piece of music. I’ll sometimes happen upon a moment in a song that connects with something I’m thinking about and suddenly I’ll feel a strong emotional reaction. I’ll often replay the song over and over and over while pursuing that thought inside the spaces within the music. It sounds a bit fluffy but it works for me.
BCN: Now that Traitors Blade is out and being enjoyed by all, can you reveal what is in the pipeline for us to enjoy next?
SDC: The second book is complete and with my U.K. publishers. It’s tentatively entitled Greatcoat’s Lament, and it takes the main characters on a darker and more perilous journey than they’ve faced before. Falcio will come to question his idealized memories of King Paelis, Kest will pay the price that comes with wanting to be the greatest swordsman in the world, and Brasti will discover he can no longer get away with simply playing the charming rogue. Valiana, Aline, and the Tailor all take more central roles in the second book than they did in the first, and the clash between their different visions of right and wrong will shake Tristia’s very foundations.
My other fantasy series, Spellslinger, is about an outcast mage hunted by his people whose business partner is a slightly murderous raccoon. It was one of my favourite books to write so I hope readers will enjoy it as well.
Finally, I’m partway through a strange detective novel that’s best described as Nancy Drew meets Chinatown. It’s remarkably dark but I think it’s going to be very exciting once it’s done.
BCN: What is your favourite cake?
SDC: I’m an absolute chocolate addict. I would happily eat chocolate cake and ice cream every morning for breakfast if I thought I could get away with it.
BCN: Thank you very much Sebastien.
Sebastien can be contacted on his website www.decastell.com make sure you go on and do the quiz to see which Great Coats Shield you are. I got this:Your colour is black to show your willingness to sacrifice The kraken symbolizes your intellect Your ability to go on long journeys is shown by the wings You’ll face any opponent with your broadsword
By Leanne Ellis.