Saint’s Blood continues the saga of the Greatcoats and sees a religious fervour descend upon the tainted nation of Tristia. The Saints, immortal beings that wield supernatural abilities and each embody an aspect of humanity, are turning up dead, murdered by some mysterious rising power. Falcio, Kest and Brasti, three of the last remaining Greatcoats – warrior magistrates who upheld the laws of the now deceased king – must uncover the source of the slayings before chaos once again returns to the country.
While the Saints have been regularly invoked throughout the series in various colourful exclamations and have occasionally made brief appearances, their nature went previously unexplored. Now we get a little more exploration into their origins and nature, as well as the kind of religion that could thrive in a country constantly teetering on an abyss of anarchic lawlessness, and a brief overview of its history that gave birth to such ingrained despair.
Worn down by the seeming pointlessness of his efforts, Falcio finally starts to accept that not only is the world of idealistic chivalry of which he dreams now lost forever, but in all likelihood it never existed in the first place. However, he still manages to maintain his idealistic streak, albeit tinged with an increasing level of frustrated resignation as he ponders precisely why he constantly attempts to save people from the casual murder by decadent aristocrats who rule them when they are so pointedly resistant to his efforts.
The combat sequences that are the series’ hallmark are given an added level of intensity with most of the villainous mooks encountered being an assortment of religious fanatics amped up on some mysterious stimulant that makes them impossible to reason with and that much harder to kill. While the exposing the hypocrisy of fundamentalist zealotry is generally satisfying, such people make for easy targets as antagonists, as they by definition do not require their motives to be in any way rationalised.
Saint’s Blood feels like something of a placeholder instalment, as if the main narrative is being held in stasis, while this interlude episode of the saga plays out. Indeed, the next novel in the series, Tyrant’s Throne, was initially proclaimed to be the one published after Knight’s Shadow, so it was evidently decided that some of the occurrences here were necessary before the main story could continue.
SAINT’S BLOOD / AUTHOR: SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL / PUBLISHER: JO FLETCHER BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW