Falcio val Mond the Greatcoat, the optimist who believes, really believes, in the King’s Law, wants some of the Dukes to back the princess’s claim to the throne. Unfortunately, he’s very poisoned and dying. Meanwhile, Brasti Goodbow (that’s him on the cover) doesn’t really care which useless leech of a noble rules, as long as the beer is good and the girls are pretty. Kest (probably has a last name somewhere) is the Saint of Swords, and would like to meet the 2nd best swordsman so they can duel to the death. Three Musketeers, the fantasy version! Expect politics and betrayal, or are they the same thing?
***Wait, what’s Greatcoat, besides the series name? The King’s roving magistrates. Best world-building detail: The magistrates put their rulings to the tune of locally popular songs, so that they will be remembered by illiterate people. Therefore, Falcio is First Cantor of the Greatcoats. More specifically, the greatcoat is their badge of office, with little ivory plates sewn in so that it’s a little harder to kill them. With the King dead, the Greatcoats are scattered and disgraced.
So, a friendly Duke. He’s willing to back the princess, if the Greatcoats are willing to really uphold the law. For example, there’s a village that refused to pay it’s taxes… because two Dukes are collecting and they’ve raised the tax because they’re planning a war… against each other… over this very village… which they expect the villagers to pay for. PS, can you spot the trap? Barsti can. Falcio solves the tax problems & figures out another trap. The Duke signs a documented supporting the princess, and then the Duke & his entire family are murdered. Guess who is blamed?
Also, the Bards get details wrong. It’s really funny and incidentally someone’s going to die on a mistake.
All this action, and we’re not quite 1/4 through the book. The pace stays fast, furious, & fun.
* Falcio soon loses his best buddies as they develop new life-and-death interests. Mostly death.
* The Tailor – the King’s old mother and creator of a new generation of Greatcoats – reveals that she has her own agenda. And where did she round up these newer Greatcoats? Well there’s a tale, and the Bards don’t know it. Yet.
* Princess Aline is having doubts about her willingness to rule, since “to rule” means “people want to kill you very dead.” Also, nice having the princess with the same name as Falcio’s dead wife. If she ducks out of her duty, can Falcio go and guard her on some tropical island? Maybe even the same one where his girlfriend wants him to take her? Wouldn’t that be nice? Shorter book, though.
* Incidentally, how did those villagers get such shiny new swords? Weaponry Is Expensive ™. There’s probably a plot there, which Falcio will unravel eventually.
* Remember the two assassins from the Secret Order of Deadly Assassins which Falcio killed last book? (I didn’t, but I’ll take the author’s word for it.) They want Revenge, with a capital Vengeance. Take note, Bards, because they want this torture seen to be remembered forever.
* Falcio is busy fighting battles, and suddenly realize he’s fighting the wrong war. FUN.
* Oh, I did NOT expect that ending.
Luckily, there are more books already written and I don’t have to wait long to read the next one.