Review: Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell

I can be a sentimental old fool and I’ve been known to shed a tear or two while watching a movie. Parts of “Tyrant’s Throne” by Sebastien de Castell had the same effect on me. I came to the Greatcoats series pretty much by accident not knowing what to expect and the story, world and most of all the characters within pulled me with them until finishing the fourth and final book in the series.

De Castell excels at characterization with engaging heroes with enough flaws to enable us to empathize with them and villains who are so much more interesting than just being pure evil. The first person narrative of Falcio val Mond, first cantor of the Greatcoats, a type of travelling magistrate and expert swordsman takes us on a journey that manages to avoid the classic fantasy quest tropes.

By the start of Tyrant’s Throne, Falcio, and his two Greatcoat companions, Kest and Brasti have defeated mortals and a god and, finally, seem close to enabling the dead king’s daughter, Aline, to take the throne of Tristia, their war-torn country. Of course, nothing is ever straightforward and there follows a series of entertaining and occasionally improbable, events as the trio attempt to bring recalcitrant dukes into line, deal with the appearance of enemies old and new all the while being roundly despised for their efforts.

One thing that makes the series so engaging is that although there are a few improbable plans that somehow manage to come together there are are also the head-slapping moments when it’s hard to believe that Falcio can be that dumb. Falcio is no perfect hero who masters every skill (that would be Kest) but instead a clever but fallible man who (mostly) knows what’s right, is good with a sword but prone to let his feelings blind him to what’s really going on. I’m not sure if it’s deliberate or not but Falcio seems even more fallible in book four than in the previous three. I don’t know if that’s the author indicating how the strain is getting to Falcio or accidental but any person would be worn down by the events Falcio has endured so I think we can forgive him that.

The story takes around 150 pages to get to the main plot, but it’s well worth sticking with it.

If you’ve already read the first three books of the series (Traitor’s Blade, Knight’s Shadow & Saint’s Blood) then you probably don’t need me to convince you to read Tyrant’s Throne (you should!). If you haven’t encountered the Greatcoats yet, you should definitely get your hands on Traitor’s Blade.