Thursday, November 11, 2021

Sebastien de Castell Interview - Way of the Argosi

Photo Content from 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 defense 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. 

Sebastien's acclaimed swashbuckling fantasy series, The Greatcoats. was shortlisted for both the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy. the Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut, the Prix Imaginales for Best Foreign Work, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His YA fantasy series, Spellslinger, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and is published in more than a dozen languages. 

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories are an avenue towards empathy not only towards others but also towards ourselves. Sometimes you read a book and find a character who seems to have nothing in common with you and yet, page by page, you find yourself appreciating both the similarities and differences between you. Maybe you come away thinking that the new neighbor who moved in down the street and who arouses nothing but anger and trepidation in you may not be so innately awful after all. Maybe you just need to know them a little better. Likewise, when we follow along with flawed characters in a story, witnessing how all their faults can still culminate in a kind of grace – or at least humanity – by the end, we start to recognize that maybe we’re not so bad, either.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
There are literally hundreds of them, from the first time you sit down with a terrific editor and spend hours talking about your story, making it better word by word, to holding that first author copy in your hand (for me it’s all about putting it on the mantle, for some reason). I love meeting fellow authors and conspiratorially whispering to each other, “You mean, you have no idea what you’re doing either? Holy crap, I thought that was just me!” I adore when readers tell me they’ve just named their cat Reichis (after the thieving squirrel cat in Spellslinger), and was honoured when a person choosing a new name for themselves wrote to ask if it was all right to pick “Kellen”. Sometimes when I listen to the audiobook of one of my books, it’s like an entirely new story because the voice actor has brought nuance and subtext to the words. When you can clear your head of all the nonsense that goes along with book publishing and focus instead on all the amazing moments along the way, you remember that this really is the best job in the world.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
OUR LADY OF BLADES, the first swashbuckling fantasy in the Court of Shadows series which is set in the world of the Greatcoats, comes out in 2022, and its sequel, PLAY OF SHADOWS, comes out in 2023. Also in 2023, a brand new magical fantasy series begins, which is full of brass and bad-ass mages, and was tons of fun to write. I’ll have a new Argosi book out in 2022 (Way of the Argosi and Fall of the Argosi came out this year), and there are new short stories on my site every month or so.

Can you tell us when you started WAY OF THE ARGOSI, how that came about?
I began Way of the Argosi after the final book in the Spellslinger series. So many readers would write to me asking about the mysterious ways of the Argosi: how they learn the seven talents, how they choose their own unique path. It was as if thousands of people were wanting to become Argosi themselves. I’m not a philosopher by trade, and certainly not a guru, so I decided to delve into the origins of Ferius Parfax, the Argosi wanderer we meet in the Spellslinger series, and by exploring how she came to learn the Argosi ways I was able to surface more of that for readers while staying true to the fantasy adventure roots of my genre.

  • 1. It’s my 11th published novel.
  • 2. Because the Argosi use all kinds of card decks as part of their wanderings, there are six custom illustrated tarot cards used as act breaks in WAY OF THE ARGOSI. These are from the Argosi training deck, and depict the various false journeys an apprentice Argosi might mistake for the true path, as well as the Argosi card itself at the end, showing the Seven Talents and Four Ways. Sally Taylor’s artwork on these cards is some of my favourite from all the Spellslinger and Argosi books.
  • 3. The audiobook is incredible! Narrated by the fabulous Kristin Atherton, it’s like having Ferius right there with you. I can honestly recommend it even if you’ve already read the book.
  • 4. You can read it even if you’ve never read any of the Spellslinger books as it takes place before that series.
  • 5. I spend ridiculous amounts of time coming up with chapter titles on these books.
  • 6. It has perhaps my favourite ending of any of my books. While writing the book, I had no idea how it was going to end and how it could possible make sense with what had come before. When I got there, in one of those very, very rare moments of bliss as a writer, the end I found was both surprising and inevitable once I wrote it, and made everything that came before – including how Ferius narrates the story, suddenly make perfect sense.
  • 7. The cover illustration, featuring both Ferius and her Argosi mentor, Durral Brown, was illustrated by the fantastic Gavin Reece. You should check out his artwork; he’s amazing.
  • 8. The sword Ferius carries throughout the book is called a “smallsword”, which is the type of sword that replaced the rapier as the most effective dueling weapon in the Late Renaissance/Early Modern period in our world.
  • 9. The two knights who briefly adopt Ferius are, indeed, from Tristia, the setting of my swashbuckling fantasy series, The Greatcoats.
  • 10. I’ve written a free short story featuring the adult Ferius (though I recommend you read it after reading Spellslinger) that you can get on my website at
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want them to be wrestling with the choices Ferius is forced to make throughout the novel, especially in the last act, and ask themselves whether they truly believe that all human beings have both dignity and agency, or whether we’ve all made it far too easy for ourselves to turn those we perceive as enemies into monsters unworthy of empathy.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
Ferius definitely goes through the big changes in the book, but what it takes her a long time to discover – what took ­­me a long time to discover about myself as a teenager – is that most of those seemingly “huge” transformations that people talk about all the time are often illusory; they’re roles we put on ourselves like costumes. The real change for Ferius isn’t becoming a knight or a thief or even an Argosi: it’s letting go of a hatred she has every right to feel, and making peace with those she should never have to make peace with. Those, to me, are the changes that truly transform us.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I get all kinds of writer’s block all the time. I have this instinctive sense of whether a scene is saying something meaningful to me and when it doesn’t, I get stuck. People will tell you to just push through and not worry about it and fix it later, but that seldom works for me. With this particular book, I tried to skip past a big part of Ferius’ early years, and that drained a lot of the essential drama out of her story. Once my editor suggested I spend a little more time on those years, the book came to life for me.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
This will mostly be of interest to readers of the Greatcoats series, but I’m dying to write the first time Ferius Parfax meets Falcio val Mond, and we start to explore the connection between the Greatcoats and the Argosi.

What cartoon character best describes you?
Sylvester the Cat, alas.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Travel to faraway places.

Best date you've ever had?
I think it was the third date with my wife. I won’t say why, however.

What was the first job you had?
I had a paper route when I was a kid. Looking back, I don’t think I appreciated how great a job that was. I spend a lot of time walking while conjuring up stories, so if I had that paper route now I could get paid while I do it.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
When I was a kid, after my dad had passed away, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. We lived in this small town kind of far away and she had to go into hospital. I ended up in foster care for a few weeks because none of my relatives were in a position to come and get me. The family who took care of me were perfectly nice, but I came away from that experience determined that from then on I would define my own family connections. I would decide what my obligations were and not let others impose them on me out of some tradition or expectation.

First Heartbreak?
I was about eleven when my dog Tramp died. It was awful, and it broke my heart in ways that I have trouble explaining to this day.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love, no matter the heartache that may follow, without question.

Where can readers find you?
The best place to find me is at my website: . You can find out everything about all my books, find exclusive stories set in the Greatcoats, Spellslinger, and Argosi series, and get in touch with me through the contact page.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from WAY OF THE ARGOSI
1. One of my favourite scenes in in the Black Galleon when Ferius is being put on trial and concocts a largely fictitious legal procedure for trial by combat that seems entirely fair on the surface and yet plays entirely to her strengths rather than that of the brutal and much larger prosecutor. I especially like that the legal principle is called “Tuta a Lebat” but the entire crowd starts changing “Tuna Halibut” instead.

2. Another scene I love is later in the book, when Ferius – who absolutely despises the Jan’Tep – winds up with an unexpected friendship with a girl named Ala’Tris who confounds Ferius by treating her like a sister. I’m not sure why, but those kinds of unanticipated gifts of genuine friendship have always made me optimistic about our own world.

3. “He said all lovers had their own secret language, even if they didn’t know it at first, and that there was no greater joy than a life spent learning it together.” P. 18

4. The scene when Durral breaks the mind cage in which he and Ferius are trapped using raw, vulnerable humanity rather than brute strength or cruelty is another one that makes me glad I wrote this book.


Stealing, swindling, and gambling with her own life just to survive, Ferius will risk anything to avenge herself on the zealous young mage who haunts her
every waking hour.

But then she meets the incomparable Durral Brown, a wandering philosopher gifted in the arts of violence who instead overcomes his opponents with shrewdness and compassion. Does this charismatic and infuriating man hold the key to defeating her enemies, or will he lead her down a path that will destroy
her very soul?

Through this outstanding tale of swashbuckling action, magical intrigue, and dazzling wit, follow Ferius along the Way of the Argosi and enter a world of magic and mystery unlike any other.

You can purchase Way of the Argosi at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. Gosh, I'm not sure. I do give good gifts.

  2. I gifted my daughter a holiday. She loved it.

  3. I gave my sister concert tickets to see her favorite band.

  4. I gave my daughter a Coach purse she loves.

  5. We gave our daughter an instant pot, she was really excited.

  6. "What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever given someone?" Hmm. Maybe some flowers or a potted plant.

  7. The best gift given was to spend a weekend with us in
    San Diego for the holidays and go to the different attractions making memories together last a lifetime.

  8. I gave my niece a hand made, leather journal that she absolutely loved!

  9. I gifted my mom a handbag that she has always wanted.

  10. A book with cocktail recipes to a friend who's into cocktail making :)