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…
Had I done an honorable mention for my Top 10 of 2014, Traitor’s Blade would have probably been my pick. It was a fun adventure story with good action and a solid bond between the three Greatcoats to ground it.
I wish I could say the same for Knight’s Shadow.
This book feels all around darker this time around, which I suppose is in keeping with where the plot is going. But it’s more than that. It feels like they’re more violence and more torture. de Castell does a good job of keeping it in balance – most is off page and it never feels explotiative – but it still is there. More importantly though, there’s this sense of despair, of bleakness that blankets the whole affair. Time and time again they get told to turn around and to stop. Again and again we hear how it’s a suicide mission – and they act like it’s one, fully with an attitude of “At least I’ll have died trying.” I can’t remember it being in the first book, but felt impossible to miss here.
And this might have been more tolerable had the three main characters stayed together, but again, one goes off for a large chunk of the book. There are some good female characters here, but there is an unmistakable emotional distance between them and Falcio so that they don’t recreate that bond.
It’s a well constructed book to be sure, but I no longer found it a fun read and that’s a shame.
Verdict: Borrow It While still very well done, it lacks the lightness of spirit that made the first book work so well.
Available: June 2nd
One final note: the original title for this book was going to be The Greatcoat’s Lament. Honestly, I wish they hadn’t changed the title. When you find out what that it, you realize what a perfect title it really was. Knight’s Shadow just feels more generic and doesn’t capture the feel of the book in the same way.