Tales of the Greatcoats Vol. 1: A fond return to a warmly remembered world

Tales of the Greatcoats Volume 1 by Sebastian De Castell science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsTales of the Greatcoats Volume 1 by Sebastian De Castell

Tales of the Greatcoats Volume 1 by Sebastian De Castell science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviews“So I’m only in one of these nine Greatcoats stories?” Brasti asked, pausing his work.

“Yes,” De Castell replied. “Though to—”

“But Kest gets two?”

“The man knows talent when he sees it,” Kest said, skimming through the pages of Tales of the Greatcoats. “I especially like how you have me win a duel without actually fighting the duel. And … Hold on, I’m in only two?”

Brasti snorted. “The man knows talent.” He sighed. “I suppose Falcio is in all of ‘em.”

Falcio looked up from staring at the newborn daughter he cradled in his arms. “And deservedly so, given that—”

“Actually,” De Castell interrupted gently. “Falcio is also just in two.”

Falcio stopped softly swinging his daughter. “Wait, what?”

Brasti laughed and returned to sliding the oiled cloth along his weapon.

Falcio glared. “How many times a day are you going to polish that bow of yours?”

“Probably fewer than you do yours, with your wife just out of birthing and all.”

“See Brasti,” Kest chimed in, “It’s those sorts of lines that get you only one story.”

“And what, it’s your eloquence and charm that get you that whole extra tale of your own?”

The Greatcoats (4 Book Series) Kindle Edition by de Castell, Sebastien“Let’s get back to my only being in two of the tales,” Falcio intervened. “I assume they’re lengthy at least, novelettes perhaps?”

“Why, because nobody talks as much as you?”

“Brasti’s not wrong, Falcio,” Kest said, turning pages. “But sorry, they’re actually two of the shorter ones. Though you do get a neat twist in one, and the other’s surprisingly emotional, though your wife, of course, comes off as the real star.”

Falcio looked at De Castell, who held out his hands. “Let’s face it, Falcio, you’re worn down, weary, not to mention preoccupied with a pregnant wife and worries about becoming a father, all of which the first story makes clear. But you do open and close the book.”

“Well,” Falcio muttered. “That’s something. And I suppose, since nobody else has more than two stories, I can’t—”

Kest held up the book. “Ummm.”

Brasti laughed even louder.

“Oh, C’mon!” Falcio said to De Castell. “Who else could possibly—”

“Estevar Valejan Duerisi Borros,” Kest carefully enunciated.

Four people got —”

“Not four,” Brasti said, still chuckling. “Don’t you remember Estevar? The man who always found some way to announce all those names of his — ‘Hey, who left their muddy boots in the middle of the floor?’ ‘Those boots belong to me— Estevar Valejan Duerisis Borros.’ Added a whole ‘nother ten minutes to any conversation with the guy.”

Sebastian De Castell

Sebastian De Castell

Falcio thought for a moment. “He’s the magic investigator?”

“I have to say,” Kest said, reading, “the supernatural aspect of his stories does add an intriguingly different element from our usual adventures. And there’s something about Estevar’s voice that’s wholly endearing. Kind of nice to see someone using their brains to solve problems.”

“Says the man known for sticking the sharp end of a stick into people,” Brasti scoffed.

“I use my brains,” Falcio said plaintively.

“Yeah, figuring out where Kest should stick ‘em with the sharp end of a stick,” Brasti retorted.

Kest continued thumbing through. “Really though, with me down to one hand, Falcio spending all his time with that way too cute daughter of his, and Brasti busy polishing his bow day and night—”

“His magnificent bow,” Brasti interjected.

Kest kept speaking as if he hadn’t heard. “We haven’t been doing a lot to write about lately. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing more of Estevar solving mysterious events. Though I don’t know what you’d call that kind of story …”

“Mysteriouses, obviously,” Brasti said.

Falcio winced. “That’s … inelegant.”

“Uh oh,” Kest murmured.

“Get another paper cut, did we, O’ Saint of Swords?”

Kest held the book out for Brasti to look at.

Tales of the Greatcoats Volume 1 by Sebastian De Castell science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviews“Oh.”

“What is it?” Falcio asked.

“Just a typo,” Kest replied, moving closer to bend over Falco’s daughter. “Look how cute she is!”

“Subtle, Kest,” Brasti said. “Just tell him. He’ll find out anyway.”

“Tell him what,” Falcio said coolly.

“Murielle,” Kest mumbled.

“What about …” Falcio whirled on De Castell. “You put Murielle in this collection? After she betrayed all of us?”

De Castell looked crestfallen. “As I say in my afterword, I didn’t do right by her. I thought she had a right to face her demons, maybe even get a chance at—”

“She betrayed us! “Falcio repeated, quieter this time, and De Castell couldn’t tell if it was anger or grief or guilt that so hoarsened his voice.

De Castell looked sadly at Falcio. “And there’s that ‘brutal rejection of another for having failed to live up to the near-impossible standards’ you hold yourself and all around you to, I note in that same afterword.”

Falcio was taken aback. “What? Impossible standards? I don’t—”

Kest coughed while Brasti made a choking sound.

Falcio turned to them. “You don’t think—”

“Overwhelming odds?” Brasti said.

“No chance of success?” Kest added.

Falcio opened his mouth, then closed it. He turned to De Castell, who shrugged.

Brasti put his bow down and stood. “Did we just turn Falcio speechless?”

Kest looked at him. “I think we may have indeed.”

“Who says the Gods are dead,” Brasti said.

Falcio looked down at his daughter, who had fallen asleep despite all the noise. Would she grow up thinking he had held her to impossible standards she could never meet? Would her older self hate him for it? Assassins and bandits he could protect her from. But what of himself? Was it even possible for him to be a good father? Could he change his ways?

“There’s that look again,” Kest said to Brasti.

“I think it’s gas,” Brasti replied.

“Not our Gods-daughter, Brasti. Falco. He’s got that look again.”

“Could still be gas.”

Kest snarled.

“Fine, fine, you’re right. I see it. He’s making that face.”

“You know what that means, Brasti.”

Brasti smiled. “Swashbuckling?”

Kest smiled back. “Swashbuckling.”

The two of them joined Falcio in making cooing noises over the baby’s face.

De Castell shook his head, mumbling to himself. “Terrifying warriors indeed. Hah! No wonder I needed new characters.” He turned to go, sorting through the idea in his head for another Estevar mysterious. Mystery.

“De Castell!”

Falcio’s voice turned him back around. The three of them were still gathered ‘round the babe, but their eyes were steely. Bastri held his bow in his hand, Kest his sword, and Falcio rested his palm on his rapier hilt.

“Don’t forget. You’ve got a new Greatcoats book due. Our Lady of Blades. We’ll expect that this year. And remember,” Falcio said, sliding his rapier an inch or two from its scabbard, “I’m told I have impossible standards.”

They all held De Castell’s eyes for a moment, then Falcio bent back down over his daughter. “Isn’t that right little one? Daddy’s got impossible standards for everyone but you! Yes, he does!”

“Terrifying indeed” De Castell whispered to himself, then turned to leave. He had a novel to finish.

(With apologies to the author.)

Published in December 2021. A disgraced magistrate on the run. A daring swashbuckler hunted by an unstoppable assassin. An investigator of the supernatural faced with a corpse that won’t stop dancing. Here are eight tales of the Greatcoats, lengendary sword-fighting magistrates brought together by an idealistic young king and disbanded after his execution as a tyrant. Follow along through their swashbuckling adventures, their triumphs and defeats, their darkest hours and their moments of shining redemption as they struggle to bring justice to a corrupt kingdom.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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2 comments

  1. I LOVE it when you use this format!

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