Sebastien de Castell – Tyrant’s Throne

Falcio Val Bond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King’s dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In neighbouring Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies, and even worse, he is rumoured to have a new ally: Falcio’s old nemesis Trin. With the armies of Avares at her back, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest and Breast go racing north to stop her, but in those cold, treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player has entered the game, and plans to take the throne of Tristia…

Just when you think that Falcio and his Greatcoats have finally achieved their goals, the past comes back to haunt them in the form of not just a former known foe, but new unexpected enemies as well. In the fourth book in The Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne, Sebastien de Castell brings several elements of the previous book full circle. I really enjoyed the way that he pulled back in strands that had seemed resolved; the reappearance of some of them created a gloomy sense of inevitability for Falcio and friends, a despondency they needed to fight to overcome. 

Over the course of the series, the narrative at their heart seems to be a journey of healing, both for Falcio and for Tristia. When we first meet Falcio, he is still debilitated by his grief for his king and for his wife. He struggles with PTSD and how to deal with his emotions. The first three books see him being broken down even more and slowly being put back together, but still not being fully healed. At the end of Tyrant’s Throne Falcio is finally on his way to healing, though he has a ways to go yet. This is mirrored in Tristia at large. The country is still devastated by the civil wars that have been fought and the threatened invasion, but with the return of a ruler who seems to be made of strong stuff and the right moral fibre there seems to be hope for a better future. Additionally, the new monarch is supported by a resurgence of the six orders: Trattari, Cogneri, Rangieri, Dashini, Honori, and Bardatti. I loved how it was only through the cooperation between all of them that it was possible to save Tristia. I would love to learn more about the various orders, because the glimpses we’ve had of their function, traditions, and histories are fascinating.

The core dispute at the heart of Tyrant’s Throne is one of political philosophy. The central question the different parties in Tristia argue over is which form of government is the best. Is it a monarchy, an oligarchy, theocracy, a country ruled by law and its enforcers, in this case in the form of the Greatcoats? De Castell shows us the different arguments through different characters and in the end it comes down to either a monarchy or a Greatcoats-led autocracy. I loved how Falcio actually struggles with this question, that he is actually somewhat seduced by the idea of a Tristia ruled by the Greatcoats, because he deeply believes in the Laws the Trattari uphold. It made for an interesting inner conflict, particularly once we get into the second half of the book after a particularly significant death occurs. Especially in the current political climate these reflections seemed particularly apt, when there is so much discussion on whether democracy is actually still working.

Tyrant’s Throne is the fourth and for now final book featuring Falcio, Kest, and Brasti in the Greatcoats series. I came straight into it from reading the previous book Saint’s Blood and I was so curious to see how Sebastien de Castell would bring their story to an end. This final adventure had heartache and loss, but also ended on that most uplifting and enduring of human conditions: hope. It is a beautiful ending to a fabulous series that ranges from swashbuckling fun to deep philosophical ponderations. I truly adore this series and its starring characters. I’m glad that it looks as if they will return at some point in the future!

This book was provided for review by the publisher.