Here we are with a series review for a series I wrote no reviews for. Anyway! Let’s dive right in!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Greatcoats by Sebastian De Castell
Purchase the Books so you can read them yourself, because I did not review them separately.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I write this after, but I know that before reading I had no exceptions. I knew it wasn’t going to flow as I expected, since Sebastian De Castell has a skill for that. I decided that by having no need to write reviews, I’d be more open to anything. I was right, but I should have written reviews.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
It was after the first book, somewhere in the second book, that I realized I should have done reviews for each book. I realized that relatively belatedly, which is a testament to how much I loved book two. I was enthralled with this series to its completion in a way I had not expected. It captured my heart with its plot and politics in a way I was not prepared for and hope others can be as well.
I read these books and thought “This is why I love to read.” This whole month, in fact, has reminded me why I love to read. I do apologize for making this a full series review, but its the best I can do now.
Be heavily weary of spoilers with this, because it is thick in them.
Why You Should Read:
I’ve decided to move this above, so that if you don’t want to be spoiled you don’t have to be. I will be doing this with my series reviews from this point on.
If you want to read this book series, you’ll find banter and excitement, mystery and intrigue, fighting and peace. However the reason you should read this book series is for the underlying messages of hope, love, justice and valor. I do not think that I have read a series that has made me want to be so valorous before and to see the bravery, fear, and intensity of it. It made me want to believe in people even when the whole world was more black than grey. Valor is the reason you should read this book series, because this book series makes you want to become that person, to fight regardless and to fight for the world. Any book series that could make a stand so greatly, is something I will always recommend.
Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are Greatcoats, a special order created by the King, who travel the country and uphold the law. In a world where their King is dead and the tyrannical Dukes are in control, Falcio is trying to complete is last mission for his King. In doing so, he crosses paths with Aline, a child with the same name as his dead wife, and learns that she is the child of his King (King Paelis). The three then do everything in their power to protect her.
Book 1 follows the trio as they meet and protect Aline. It ends with them having gotten Aline safe, but also the disappearance of their enemy and the reveal of other character relationships. Book 2 is about the war that tries to destroy her now that she is known, along with the trio looking into the murders of Dukes and their families. In this book Falcio is tortured and almost dies, and makes it just in time to help Aline and the Dukes who are being betrayed by their Knights.
Book 3 follows the aftermath of 2, with the knights nearly destroyed. Saints, powerful beings with the powers like gods, are dying and the trio has to figure out why. The gods of their world die, and a new one is born. The trio, their newfound Greatcoats, and Aline, battle the God and kill it. Aline’s rule is nearly secured.
Book 4, deals with the trio going to another country to investigate rumors. There they find their remaining Greatcoats who have turned turncoat. They are trying to make a new order. Here they discover Aline’s brother, as well as their enemy from books one and two. They return with him to their country. Aline dies protecting her brother, and war between the two countries is nearly declared. Falcio puts the country on trial with the ancient orders, and decides to save them. The war is won through clever ploys, Aline’s brother becomes king, and most people disband away, as he tries to solidify his rule.
What I Liked:
Falcio; There is something about his character that is interesting to me. He is tortured, and had his wife die. He is a troubled character with PTSD, and that much is clear. His trauma never goes away, but he works around it, through it, and with it. He also is brilliant, but in each book you can see him getting older. His wise abilities are never questioned, and he is looked to as a guiding light. I did adore him, and how he was as a lead character with us through the series. I appreciated him and his world. I felt for him as he fell in love, and strove to do things for the people he loved. His relationship with everyone was very wholesome.
Kest; I adored him. He was a sword genius, who did everything in his power to protect Falcio. It was always to protect Falcio. He became the strongest in the world for that reason, and I’m happy that at the end he decides to do something not for Falcio. For the first time in his life. Kest’s humor came from his deadpan expression and relationship with others. He was kind, careful, and cared for those that he loved. As such, I loved him.
Brasti; Of the lead three, Brasti was my least favorite. I did adore him and his nature of being a boisterous human. He was skilled with a bow as no others were. He was skilled in charm and beautiful unlike the other two. I liked Barasti for the comedic value he added to the story.
The trio; As a relationship their relationship is like best friends or brothers. Falcio never makes it a secret that he loves them dearly. I find this endearing and beautiful, that male friendship can be so sweet without a “but no homo” tag added on to it. They adore and cherish each other. They know each other like a book and support each other through just about anything. Most of the male and male relationships are like this, in fact. (Tommer and his father have a very strong relationship for instance) I liked this and it made the book enjoyable to read.
Falcio and King Paelis; Throughout the whole book series, it is said that Falcio loved King Paelis and was blinded by that love for him. This is never implied to be a romantic love, but purely platonic, and I LOVED this. Falcio admits that he loved Paelis. He says he would have done anything for Paelis. Everyone knows that Falcio and Paelis were closest of everyone, as well as how there were things that Falcio did not see in Paelis. The fact, however, that characters say “love” without saying “romantic or sexual love” but just as love, was brilliant. You can love someone without wanting to kiss them or get into their pants. (Although a kiss on the head probably 100% happened between the two in some sort of joking or honest manner at some point. I believe it). I found this added part of what love is, and how it can come in many forms so important.
Aline; There are two Alines in this book. The first in Falcio’s wife who died after being raped by a Duke’s men. The second is Paelis’ daughter who was named after Falcio’s wife. Both women are the ideal of valor and courage. Aline did what she had to do and fought back for her life, both of them. Falcio’s wife may have died, but she is the reason the Greatcoats were born and the reason Falcio became the legend he was. He was doing it for her, to make sure no one was ever hurt the same way again, and if they were that they got justice. Aline, the child, was Falcio’s charge and he did everything for her, and ultimately she died too but her legacy lived on. She was the second wind for Falcio who was losing hope, and made him believe in people and his decision never to kneel again. (Falcio knelt in his house as his wife was taken away and later killed, He vowed to never again. Aline, the child, makes it so that no one has to kneel to royalty ever again. See quote below to see how that happens.) I loved these two characters and what they represented, but more than that what their name means. In the final battle of the last book their name is screamed loudly by Falcio’s army, as a representation of those who have been lost, can be lost, and will be lost if the army does not fight. Aline, daughter and wife, name and word, becomes a symbol of justice, perseverance, and courage. She represents all these things but ultimately she is Hope, and if there is a god of Hope it is Aline. For Hope is a messy business and with it there is a lot of pain, but Hope is always there, and if you believe Hope will always win.
Themes: Hope; As stated above, Hope is a massive part of this book series. It is personified in Aline, both incarnations, as well as her representing justice and valor. However I do not put Aline as valor, for valor comes to Falcio in the form of another. As such I name Aline as Hope. Hope is placed in this book as something childish, but as Falcio’s legend spreads people believe in that hope. There is a scene in book four where Falcio has to decide to fight for his country or to let it burn. He goes to the people and asks who has served on a jury before. Everyone there had, if not a parent had. They have their juror’s coin, because justice and being on a jury provided them hope. Falcio provided them hope, and they believe in him. It is this hope that led Falcio to save child Aline, to kill a saint, to kill a god, and ultimately to save their country. Hope that the world can change. Hope makes a difference. Hope is the whispers at night and the stories in songs, that are passed ear to ear in the knowledge that with every legend comes a choice. Either you believe or you don’t, and those who believe — who hope — are always stronger.
Themes; Love; Then there is love. There is the way love is seen and shared. There is love of parent and children, of friends, of lovers. There are so many types, all equal, all important, all encompassing, and love is what drives the plot. It is one man’s hope and love for another man (platonic) that leads the world into hope and love. Love is so pivotal to the story and explored that I found this endearing and heart breaking in so many ways. All humans feel love, and as such it was important for it to be there.
Themes: Justice; It if wasn’t clear Justice is a major theme in this book. Justice for those who died, against those who are corrupt, for the world. The Greatcoats are traveling Magistrates to help protect the laws of the land. Trials are head, and justice must be upheld whatever the cost, and it is. Out of all the themes this is personified in Falcio, who is justice. He will always protect the laws even if that means destroying what else he believes in. He brings back Aline’s brother even though he knows the boy has a stronger claim to the throne than Aline. He does it because it is right and this leads to problems but because he is not corrupt, ones that are for the right reasons as he fights tyranny. This book makes you want to fight for justice and those who can not have it. It makes you want to fight for it even as the whole world is trying to destroy you, and thus it teaches you about valor.
Themes; Valor and Tommer; Then we have Valor. Valor, out of all the themes, is perhaps the one that resonates the most. You can have love. You can have hope. But you need valor, and justice ultimately in this world, to make sure love and hope survive. The most valorous people are the ones who have the most love and spread the most hope in this book series. Which leads us to Tommer. Tommer was the son of a Duke. He is a child, when he sees Falcio defend Aline, and decides to pick up a jury coin when all the world is trying to stop Falcio. Falcio asks Tommer’s Duchy who would stand with him (Falcio) and Tommer responds. In the next books, Tommer wants to be a Greatcoat. When his sister is said not to be his sister, he refuses it even though he knows that they are not. They are to him and that is what is important so he will defend her. Then they face a god, and when the Greatcoats are not there, and Aline is in danger, Tommer defends her with his life even though he knows he is going to die. Tommer was valor. He stood up to a god to fight for what he believed. He gave humanity enough time for them to win, at the cost of his own life. He was valor, and when Valor wakes as a god, Falcio sees him in the form of Tommer. Falcio names the god after Tommer. Tommer is a relatively small part and other characters see the god as other people, but Tommer’s sacrifice is what solidifies it for Falcio. Falcio could never be, even when the whole world believes in him, even when its because of Falcio’s deeds that the people believe in valorous people. It is hard to stand for anything when you are on your knees, and Tommer stood. This book asks us, as people, to stand and to fight against the odds, because the world is worth fighting for.
The Greatcoats as a Philosophy; In all, the Greatcoats represent valor and justice, they spread hope and love. They are a group of people who travel the world for so long that their coats get torn and rugged, as they fight for the law and for the people. The Greatcoats are an organization that, in many ways, is brilliant and a failing. In our world it could never be, and I ask myself is that because its a magic world or is that because our world is already corrupt in its own way. The Greatcoat philosophies for justice, are ones that I think we all should have, as well as the idea to fight for it. Just as the Greatcoats do.
King Paelis; As we move back into characters, I speak of King Paelis, the king who believed in changing the world. As a character we know of him through the eyes of Falcio, who does not know the whole truth. Other characters see King Paelis in other lights that Falcio did not have. He was a complicated character, as I can tell, but he believed in Falcio. Paelis left orders with all his Greatcoats before he died, and throughout the book it is often questioned of why. Could he see all of what was coming to be coming, or had he just guessed? I think it’s more along the lines that he guessed based on facts and history. King Paelis is a genius and he looked into the world in that way. Ultimately his last act that remained were his children and the Greatcoats, and his manifest for justice over tyranny. Paelis Manifest for justice was translated in the Greatcoats, but it is also the philosophy of the greatcoats. He makes them back into what they were always meant to be. He taught them that they didn’t need to be the strongest but that justice always had to win. Then he left them with tasks to ensure that justice would always win. Paelis did not know what the world would look like after he died, but he did know that his justice would be questioned even by Falcio, and he left contingencies. The Greatcoat Philosophy and King Paelis’ goals are interwoven, and a bit hard to understand from anyone’s eyes because no one is Paelis. However, what is true is that he believed in hope, love, justice, and valor, thus he pushed them to become realized even when the world was falling apart.
The other Greatcoat characters; I adored them, all of them. I could list them off but there are many. Most of them are females, which was a positive in many ways. Valannia was strong, courageous, and knowledgeable. Darriana was cunning, witty, and fast. Ethalia was merciful, wise, and powerful. There were many other Greatcoats but those three stood out. The only reason I won’t go into much more detail is because this review is long as it is, but all of those girls were well developed and see into.
The Tailor; A complex mother who wanted to save the world and her son. She made the coats for the Greatcoats. She spun the world to her bidding. She was a villain and a hero, grey to the core. I found her complexity a wonderful added bonus to the already dark grey world, to show how dark someone with noble intentions could go.
The Bardatti; In my order’s post I go over this order. They are traveling musicians and story tellers who speak of the history and change the course of the world in memory. They are an organization that shows that memory and knowledge, culture, and art are important. They sing until they can no more, and ultimately they are the reason Falcio accepts the second name for the Greatcoats. They were secondary characters, mysterious, but were the ones who facilitated the spreading of hope and stories of valor. They were immensely important to the plot.
Magic System; Its a soft system, that we do not know much about, but I appreciated that it was there. In some ways “magic” is not really magic but technology and scientific achievement, but called magic because the people do not understand it. And that is exactly what magic is, something that you may not understand but fills you with awe. (Although Saints and Gods do exist so there is actual magic in the traditional sense too. Like Awe (capital A) that Saint’s have that can paralyze opponents.)
The other ancient organizations/ Dal Verteri; The Twelve ancient orders, by which only eight really exist. Along with the Greatcoats and Bardatti there are other organizations that represent different things. A group of assassins who were once spies: knowledge. The Bardatti: History/Culture. The Greatcoats/Trattari: Justice. The Knights who had lost their way: Honor. The religious folk who protected saints and gods: Hope/Belief. The ancient orders were corrupted in many ways, and with the reformation of them, hopefully their country can become great again. I found this part great because they were parts of a community that makes a community strong, when done right and not corrupted. Castell is a master of creating orders and this group of twelve, is proof of that. When they hold a trial, with the orders as witnesses, against the country, I knew that this was the only right move. It fell into place so perfectly, that I was surprised I had not seen it coming. They were a pivotal part of the books throughout, and I’m happy I read of them.
Those who died; This was a truth in the book. People die and people died a lot. Good people, bad people, poor and rich. People died all over the place and in many ways all the deaths were important. The final battle had soldiers fighting for those who could die, and that was brilliant.
Writing Style and Twists; Now we move into the writing style and pacing of this book, which I found beautiful. We have a character who is unreliable as all humans are, for the way he views the world is very subjective, as well as an easy reading style. However the twists we get were well placed and easy to follow. The books were turned in a way I didn’t expect, as was the case especially in book four. In book four we get Aline’s death along with other twists. These twists lead us to a country worth fighting for, but it was Aline’s death specifically that got me. Thematically, and plot structurally it was clear that she had to die. Yet I didn’t want it, as much as Falcio didn’t want it. People die, however, and Aline died for justice. If there is anything I loved, it was having my preconceived notions questioned and pushed. Because the book series was not about Aline getting on the throne, it was about what she represented. When Falcio lost her he was left with a hole trying to figure out his life’s purpose again. What was the point, he wondered, and in that the themes truly came to light. When your hope dies after someone you love is lost, and that there can be no justice for it, what do you do? Falcio decided for to be valorous and to fight for justice for others, to be the hope for others, and to save other’s love. As he did when his wife died, as he did with the child died. Once because King Paelis asked him to. The second time because the world showed him it was worth fighting for.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Kest and Falcio; While their relationship was wholesome goodness, of best friends of the highest level, there was an added bit to it that I was unsure if I was reading too far into. However, I have every reason to believe I am correct in saying that Kest was in love with Falcio, while Falcio only loved Kest. This is to say that Kest and Falcio loved each other, as best friends who grew up together. They’d die for each other and protect each other always. However, Kest was in love with Falcio, romantically. I say this for a few reasons. One, Kest never had romantic interest in any other character or person ever (female or male otherwise). We can chalk this up to Kest focusing on the sword for his whole life, which includes skills like him learning to dance and getting rid of his humor and learning much about history and vernacular. However, Kest learned the sword for Falcio. This comes to point two. Everyone and their mother knew that Kest would do ANYTHING for Falcio. Yes they knew Falcio would for Kest, but somehow had a higher hold on Kest than Falcio. Kest picked up the sword to become better than Falcio, simply because there was a chance in the distant future that the Saint of Swords would go after Falcio. Kest killed the Saint of Swords, and became the new one, for Falcio. He cut off his hand for Falcio. He was sword my Paelis to make sure Falcio never became a tyrant and to stop Falcio because only he could. When Falcio was dying or tortured or hurt, Kest would be at his bed side. When Falcio had nightmares it was Kest who would lull him to sleep. There is a point in one of the books where Kest nearly dies and Falcio almost kills himself to save Kest, and Kest says he doesn’t want to go back. He has given his everything for Falcio because he… and then he stops himself. It is implied to say that Kest loves Falcio, but Kest has said it before, everyone knows it, yet he cuts himself off. It was clear to me, by the way Kest interacted with Falcio that he loved Falccio, but it was that moment that confirmed it. He was in love with Falcio, and I think Falcio knew that. When Kest came back, he started to live for himself, which was especially true in the ending. This leads me to what I wanted. While I find this beautiful and wonderful, I just wish Kest could have said the words aloud. To let them be articulated and then to let them go as he did. He did not need to be with Falcio, for Falcio was not interested, but I would have liked for the words to have been said and meant in that way — If I was correct at all. If I was wrong and Kest simply loved Falcio as a best friend or a brother then this point is moot and is essentially a high plus for me (best friends nursing each other and standing to protect each other for ever is a massive plus) but I just felt as if there was more. King Paelis and Falcio’s relationship was as close in some ways but it did not read this way, not the way that Kest seemed to read in it all.
Time Taken To Read
“Imagine that. I wonder if that’s why the Greatcoats don’t kneel. Is that why First Cantor?”
“I’ve found that it’s hard to stand for anything when you’re on your knees.”
“How odd. Perhaps it is time we all gave it a try… Rise.” – Saint’s Blood