Saint’s Blood: The Greatcoats Book 3.
Sebastien De Castell.
5 stars out of 5.
The book blurb:
How do you kill a Saint? Falcio, Brasti and Kest are about to find out – someone is doing just that, and they’ve started with a friend.
The Dukes were already looking for ways to weasel out of their promise to put Aline on her father’s throne – but with Saints turning up dead, rumour are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. To make matters worse, the churches are also pushing for control and have brought back their own military orders – including church knights and, worst of all, the Inquisitors, who have their own, much harsher form of justice.
The only way Falcio can stop the country turning into a vicious theocracy is to find the Saint-killer – and his only clue is the iron mask encasing the head of the Saint of Mercy. And even if he can find the murderer, he will still have to face them in battle – and this may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can win.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Before I review the book itself I’m going to mention the cover art.
As you can see from the images of each of the three books in the series so far, the cover for each book has a white background with writing and an image in both the same colour, it is a quite simple cover but also at the same time stunning with a unique classic elegant look to it.
Saint’s Blood is the third book in Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series and I highly recommend that you read the first two books Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow as they are both quality reads that are well worth your time. While technically you could read this book without having read the previous two, I really wouldn’t suggest it as you’ll get far more out of the world, story and characters if you start the journey from the beginning.
All of the main characters, Falcio, Kest, Brasti, Aline, Valiana and Ethalia continue to grow and develop both in character and in their relationships, as do all of the smaller characters who while playing a role in the story aren’t the main players. In particular for me I thought Aline showed alot more growth in this book and really came into her own. There’s a scene late in the book between her and The Greatcoats that really comes across as poignant and made me feel like The Greatcoats have come full circle from everything that has happened over the series so far and for what’s still to come. Likewise the introduction of a new character in the guise of the Inquisitor Quentis Maren adds yet another dynamic and facet to the group and I found him to be a really interesting character.
While there’s a fairly large cast of characters, Falcio, Kest and Brasti are the core trio, to borrow a phrase alot of reviewers seem to say they are the swashbuckling fantasy version of the Three Musketeers.
All three have individual personalities and are different in their own way. Together they have such a strong bond of friendship and the interplay, camaraderie and banter between them is one of the many highlights of the series. Out of the three, Brasti is my favourite, you can’t help but smile at his quips and remarks and I find him to be the perfect foil for Kest’s more stoic seriousness.
One character I will mention who I believe deserves a section of this review all to himself is Duke Jillard of Rijou, he’s a vile, evil person with a penchant for torture and by all accounts as a reader you should hate him and in the two previous books I did. But in Saint’s Blood he shows some small measures of surprising growth and even dare I say it humanity. However I found myself liking the character far more and as the reader I saw him changing from the one dimensional evil character I thought he portrayed in the previous books to a far more complete character. His relationship with Falcio is complex and multi layered and I found some of the books most poetically written passages took place between them. One of the many stand out moments in Saint’s Blood for me involves one of those poetic conversations and takes place very late during the book and shows both the complexity of their relationship and the understanding between them.
The world building has always been of a high standard and multi layered and that’s no different in this book, being the third in the series we know the world, it’s history and it’s lore but the author continues to expand and explore that world.
Saint’s Blood focuses more on the church than the previous two books, hence the title has Saint’s in it! 🙂
And we delve far deeper into the history of The God’s, Saint’s and Religion, this works really well as it’s interesting to learn more about and also provides an epic story arc for the book.
This is a great series, that gets better with each book, while Traitor’s Blade was good, an impressive debut and decent start to the series, Knight’s Shadow improved on it in every way and with Saint’s Blood de Castell has managed yet again to top his previous book by creating what will surely be one of the best fantasy books of the year. The writing is of an exceptional standard, there are no wasted words and the story moves along at a fast pace with the 570+ pages flying by as you follow Falcio and his merry bunch on their epic, dark, despairing, harrowing and at times both hopeless and hopeful tale. Your pulled in from the first page through to the last in this fast paced, character driven epic where come the final page you are left wanting more!
One of the main things I look for while reading a book is how much do I care about the characters, do I care if they live? If they die? Do I laugh with them? Do I feel their pain? Do I care if they succeed or fail in their quest? For me if you care about the characters and their story it’s what takes a book from readable to a must read and this series does that as de Castell has created a group of characters you really care about. Throughout the book your taken on an engaging journey and really put through the emotional wringer as you follow the characters and the predicaments and situations that they find themselves in.
Now the question is, if you haven’t already joined The Greatcoats then why the hell not?!?! This series is a must read and well deserving of your time!
To sum up how much I enjoyed the book, I shall give you one sentence of my infinite, all knowing, manly, benevolent wisdom:
‘With Saint’s Blood, Sebastien de Castell has created an outstanding book that is a masterpiece in storytelling and modern fantasy’.