Saint's Blood by Sebastien De Castell

Saint's Blood is the third book in the Greatcoats series by Sebastien De Castell published by Jo Fletcher books. And man, this series continues to blow away my expectations to kingdom come - gleefully reveling in the 'swashbuckling' fun that has been forever the trademark, Saint's Blood continues to portray all the strengths of Sebastien as a writer - a potent mix of non-stop adventure, thrills and even darker moods amidst the heartwarming bonding between all the lead characters.


A character-driven low fantasy set in this broken chaos-ridden country called Tristia, the Greatcoats are the King's dreams to maintain the law - and the only hope to see Aline, the King's heir back on the throne to avoid plunging the world into a civil war crisis. Chief among them are the lovable bastards trio of Falcio, the First Cantor of Greatcoats, Kest the best swordsman in the world and Brasti - the rogue with his quick witticisms and quicker arrows. Book Three finds them still struggling to make sense of their dead king's plans and make good the promise made to him.

Into the midst drops a Saint-killer - an unknown mad man who is hell bent on killing away all the Saints in this world. Now mind you, We've encountered Saints through the series - a sort of God's messengers in this world conveying a particular function. Like Brigid, the Saint of Mercy or Caveil, the erstwhile Saint of Swords who was defeated by Kest in the first book. The Saint killing doesn't really follow a pattern until Falcio and gang finally get to know, that what is at stake is much bigger than just a few Saints' heads but the Kingdom of Tristia itself.

Frankly, I found much of what I loved about book-two to be preserved intact in this adventure as well. The break-neck pacing, the grim brutal narrative shined on in places by the love and warmth of the camaraderie shared by the gang, all of this remains the same. Falcio's unique distinctive voice still remains a crackling revelation throughout - he is still troubled by a past that he is unwilling to let go off - and the ghosts of King Paelis and his ex-wife Aline play a big role in all his present dilemmas. His doubt-ridden hesitant relationship with Ethalia is explored really well through this book and in fact, is a crucial theme that forms the backbone of this whole story.

Kest is a broken man after the events of Book-Two and sadly doesn't have much of a character-development in this one, though he still remains the voice of reason and is still a wonder with his swordplay. Brasti - confused and good-natured as always, is struggling with the overwhelming odds that he finds his best friends mired in and while, still clueless, plays along with Falcio's plans. My heart goes out to Brasti at times, really! Their banter is as lively as ever and is another highlight.

But I think the best thing about this third book are the women. Ethalia, Valiana and Aline, the King's daughter. Empowered and as smart as the men, all three women are a revelation in this book, Especially Aline who really comes into her own by this book. Valiana too is a strong woman who has shaken off her "princess" tag and now owns the role of the Realm's Protector, as fierce and loyal as any Greatcoat could ever be. Her courage is peerless. There are newer Greatcoats that we meet in this book but they are all just overshadowed by these three characters who really kick-ass. Ethalia is no longer just Falcio's dream-lady. She inherits much more in this book and her character arc is just brilliant, you have to read it to experience the same!

The world-building gets a big shot in the arm - Because now, Saints and even Gods enter the fray. The tone gets darker and there are definitely some brutal moments in the book that will have you cringing. But overall, the highly entertaining and emotionally draining narrative ends on a high, leaving you gasping for the next installment, Tyrant's Throne. I loved everything about this book and Falcio and his Greatcoats are now like family. I will cheer for them like brothers and follow their adventures to the end of this world.

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