INTERVIEW: Sebastien de Castell, Author of TRAITOR’S BLADE

Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

de Castell’s debut novel, Traitor’s Blade, was released by Jo Fletcher Books July 15th. You can read an excerpt of the book at Scribd.


SF Signal: Hello, and thank-you very much for taking the time to answer some questions for us about your debut novel, Traitor’s Blade.

Sebastien de Castell: My pleasure – thanks for having me!

SF Signal: In previous interviews, you’ve described Traitor’s Blade as “The Three Musketeers meets A Game of Thrones,” so clearly, you have great taste in reading material. What other books and authors inspired Traitor’s Blade? Did I detect a bit of David Eddings’ influence in your characters’ banter?

SdC: You know, I never thought about David Eddings before you mentioned him but actually I really enjoyed reading the Belgariad series when I was younger. He really mastered that sense of a character’s internal conflict and desire to push back against the expectations others have of them. You’re right as well that his characters often banter with each other. In the case of Traitor’s Blade, though, the banter is more informed by my own family’s tendency to want to one-up each other in conversation. Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) is also a big influence for me when it comes to rapid-fire dialogue.

In terms of other books, though I write fantasy, I find the stylings of noir writers like Raymond Chandler and, more recently, Dennis LeHaine have an amazing ability to create a sense of place with minimal info-dumping or description.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: A novel with a lot of big ideas that fails to deliver on its exciting premise and ultimately falls flat.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fascinating “Greatcoats” concept; very well choreographed sword fight scenes.
CONS: Very muddy middle; little to no pay off on the potential in the first half of the story; characters chase a MacGuffin around for no reason; the ending is full of several deus ex machina plot points; vague world building and even vaguer characters.
BOTTOM LINE: While Traitor’s Blade is bursting with potential, it never becomes more than a mediocre fantasy outing. The ending is a huge let down.

The second I read the blurb for Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade, I knew I had to read it. There is nothing I love more than a fantasy novel with some swashbuckling rogues looking for adventure and redemption. Traitor’s Blade sounded like a rousing fantasy version of The Three Musketeers and you can’t imagine my disappointment when the book failed to deliver. This book had so much potential but as it dragged on it got harder and harder to forgive it.
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