We all have stories that are personal to us, whether it’s because we connect with a certain character, or because we relate to their journey. I’ve lost count of the amount of novels I’ve read over the years and I can’t remember a series that has stood out to me more than The Greatcoats quartet. Written by Sebastien De Castell, the series follows the adventures of three travelling magistrates who are determined to fulfil the final wishes of their dead king. It’s been nearly a year since the last book, Tyrant’s Throne, was released and I’ve decided to examine the themes of the series to demonstrate why The Greatcoats are so memorable.
The books focus on the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, Falcio Val Mond and his friends Kest Murrowson and Brasti Goodbow. The Greatcoats were an elite group who protected the land of Tristia until the Dukes betrayed King Paelis. Falcio, Kest and Brasti tried to bring justice back to their homeland and reignite the Greatcoats and what they stood for. Idealism is a major theme of the series, with it informing how Falcio looks at his world and what he wants to achieve.
Idealism is a relatable theme that can inspire people to make the world a better place. But idealism can also be dangerous when it remains unchecked or comes across as blind. De Castell presents idealism as a catalyst for change and a slippery slope to corruption, which makes the series feel more nuanced and closer to real life. It’s one of the major reasons why I’ve enjoyed reading the series.
The realistic themes are channelled through the characters, with Falcio Val Mond being a very human lead because of how flawed he is. Despite him believing in justice and wanting to save his country, Falcio harbours a lot of resentment and bitterness that causes more harm than good in a lot of situations. His romanticism keeps him trapped in the past and it’s only until the end of the series that he can accept a future that hasn’t been shaped to his exact design.
Falcio’s complex personality is complemented by the people he has around him, especially Kest and Brasti. Kest’s desire to be the greatest fighter in the world is an admirable quality that can be found in many ambitious people around the world. He trains tirelessly to master everything he sets his mind to, yet when he achieves his ultimate goal, he chooses to give it up for his friends.
In the process, Kest loses his identity and falls into a deep depression, which is also a human quality. Yet it provides him with an epiphany that helps him find peace within his current situation.
Brasti is the most arrogant of the trio, believing himself to be the greatest archer in the world. While Falcio believes in idealism and Kest values practicality, Brasti is a man of the people and lives for the moment. But for all his bravado, Brasti feels deeply insecure in relation to Falcio and Kest because of their accomplishments. By the end of the books, Brasti has established an identity for himself and matured into someone who knows what he wants for his future.
The theme of self-perception and realising you were never what you believed to be is felt throughout the series. It’s seen in all three of the main characters and plays an important role in the journey they take together.
Another reason to read The Greatcoats series is for the realistic portrayal of women in a fantasy setting. There are all kinds of women in the books, from cold and calculating princesses, to righteous, flawed mothers who’ll do whatever they can to protect their families. De Castell injects his female characters with strength, wisdom and folly at the same time. They are people like anyone else, free to make their own choices, for good or ill.
The Greatcoats series is a suitable reflection of real life because it takes modern issues and transfers them into a fantasy setting. Falcio, Kest and Brasti are the kind of characters that will be remembered for years to come, so if you haven’t read the books yet then what are you waiting for? Get reading.