Greatcoats #3: Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher)

How do you kill a Saint?

Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are about to find out, because someone has figured out a way to do it and they’ve started with a friend.

The Dukes were already looking for ways out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with the Saints turning up dead, rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. Now churches are looking to protect themselves by bringing back the military orders of religious soldiers, assassins, and (especially) Inquisitors – a move that could turn the country into a theocracy. The only way Falcio can put a stop to it is by finding the murderer. He has only one clue: a terrifying iron mask which makes the Saints vulnerable by driving them mad. But even if he can find the killer, he’ll still have to face him in battle.

And that may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can hope to win.

Sebastien De Castell’s Greatcoats series so far has been really fun to read and the first two books have ended up as among my favourites in the respective years that they were released in and this latest release is likely to be no exception as I was blown away once again in the latest instalment which pits Falcio, Kest and Brasti against someone who has killed one of their friends, a Saint. It turns out that the Saints are turning up dead left right and centre, meaning that the planned agreement to put Aline on the Throne may not take place if the Dukes have their way.

In order to stop the country from turning into a theocracy following the influx of religious soldiers to protect Churches, Falcio and company must find the killer who is capable of turning Saints mad through the use of an Iron Mask. Of course, finding the killer won’t be the hardest challenge, but killing him will be.

De Castell manages to up the stakes for the third Greatcoats novel that sees the characters and their relationships are as fun and enjoyable as ever and it’s great to see that the usual exchanges have returned. We even get to see characters who use to fall on the villainous side of the spectrum in a new light, and this allows for a nice change in the character dynamics as they continue to grow throughout the course of the book.

The pace of the book is solid and it continues the fine form of the series, with a smooth narrative that makes the best use of the fantastic action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The humour pays off strongly on top of this as well with De Castell bringing everything that he can to the table to make a really enjoyable book that’s incredibly fun to read.

Saint’s Blood builds on the worldbuilding that begun in the first two novels. The focus of religion being pushed to the forefront gives us time to explore Falcio’s reaction to it as he begins to question his belief, and it’s interesting to see how De Castell tackles the subject of faith in this novel. This goes some way to helping create a fully-realised world that along with the character growth makes the final act all the more rewarding, and I really can’t wait to see where De Castell takes the audience from here. There’s too much potential to continue to explore and I can’t wait for the next novel in the Greatcoats series, and hopefully it continues the form of all the novels that we’ve had so far.

VERDICT: 9/10

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