Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats – legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom – have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.
Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites – well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Daishini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes who are determined to hold on to their fractured Kingdoms, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.
That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…
Like most people, I loved the first novel in the Greatcoats series, with Sebastien De Castell’s debut novel being one of the best books of 2014. So naturally, I was incredibly excited when the second book, Knight’s Shadow, turned up in the post and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. As it turned out, this book turned out to be just as excellent as the first one, offering another strong contender for the best book of the year when it inevitably reaches its end. There’s so much good stuff here that will appeal a lot to people who have already read the first novel, and if you enjoyed that then you’ll probably love this book as well.
Picking up where the first book left off, Knight’s Shadow again follows the story of Falcio Val Mond, the First Cantor, who has now found one of the King’s Charoites. Along with Kest and Bratsi, fellow Greatcoats, Falcio has to protect the thirteen year old girl, who’s not quite what they expected, from the many who would see her dead in order to place her on the throne of a kingdom without a king. Of course, in the life of a Greatcoat, this is never going to be easy, because they have to deal with not only the Daishini, a band of assassins that’s just as legendary as they are, but also Dukes determined to hold onto what’s left of their Kingdoms. And to make matters worse, Falcio is succumbing to a slow poison, and doesn’t have that long left to live. So it’s safe to say that the odds are stacked against them.
The story itself is a bit longer than the first novel, Traitor’s Blade, and as a result took me a bit longer to get through it but I still enjoyed every minute of what I read. De Castell has successfully proved that he’s not just capable of putting out one good book, and is able to bring the second to the table in an incredibly good way. Narrated in first person once again by Falcio, the story itself is very cleverly plotted and will be instantly familiar to those who loved the first book. The pace itself is good as well, as the increase in the pagecount does not necessarily allow for a slower read, as Castell manages to keep the stakes high throughout the novel.
The character development is handled pretty well over the course of this book with the main action being centred on Falcio Val Mond as one would expect. His character continues to get fleshed out and he continues to be incredibly well developed as Castell puts his character through the wire time and time again. It helps that the writer handles dialogue extremely well so that we get to see some fantastic interactions between the different characters in this book. And on top of that, the action is also extremely well written, with some great scenes that help make this book a must read.
Knight’s Shadow is a book that should live up to your expectations. The world-building continues to be excellent and the multiple villains featured are just as interesting as the protagonists, with the book taking a darker turn than the first. Much like the first novel, it’s very comparable to the incredible Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and if you want some Musketeers (or Musketeers-esque stories) and the BBC’s series isn’t doing it for you (I jumped ship after the first episode), then Knight’s Shadow is certainly worth a look into. Therefore, much like the first , it’ll probably be one of the best book’s you’ll read this year, coming highly recommended.