Recommendation: If you are looking for an epic fantasy book with a lot of fighting, more technical medieval fighting techniques with realistic equipment, and epic battles, then The Red Knight is for you. I would recommend a buy if you are into books from Steven Erikson, Glen Cook, and R. Scott Bakker, with a high TBR priority. If misogyny in fantasy bothers you, maybe skip this one.
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron is an epic fantasy novel that is the first in a series called The Traitor Son Cycle. The Red Knight is very medieval ages fantasy and Cameron does it well as he is also a medieval historical fiction writer. This book has multiple points of view and the author changes point of views often, using subject headings to help you. We even get points of view from the “evil” characters.
The focus of The Red Knight is a siege on a fortress called Lissen Carak. The Red Knight is the leader of a mercenary band that takes up a job at a nunnery in Lissen Carak to rid the country-side of Wild creatures. The Wild has many different types of creatures like wyverns, daemons, irks, and trolls. Soon The Red Knight and his mercenaries find out that it isn’t just a few of the Wild out there but an entire army, and their desire is to take the nunnery fortress. When everyone else in this kingdom of Alba find out what is happening in Lissen Carak, they must go to Lissen Carak’s aid, but will they be too late?
The first thing I want to mention about The Red Knight is the medieval fighting expertise that Miles Cameron showcases. It is obvious that Cameron has a passion for authentic medieval warfare. The battle scenes are stunning and accurate when it comes to men fighting in heavy armor with large swords. Real sword fighting is dirty and not pretty. Cameron does a great job at giving the reader this more gritty fighting while still maintaining a sense of awe. The reader can also tell that Cameron likes to take into account the small things, like food supplies, people trying to make a living during war time, and how war effects everyone, not just the soldiers.
I really loved how Cameron wrote this book. Each point of view character is separated on the page by a heading that tells us who the point of view is we are following and where they are at. These point of views change quite frequently throughout a chapter. Each chapter usually covers a whole day. For the most part, the reader gets a real time view of what each group of characters are doing at the same time. This creates a more tightly woven narrative that really shines when the entire book is mostly focused on this one siege. I really love how the book is so tightly focused on this one siege because it reminds me of history books that cover just one battle in detail. I find these type of history books to be my favorite and I think that is the main reason The Red Knight worked so well for me.
The world that Cameron creates is something that took me awhile to understand. This isn’t our world but there are many parallels to this world that are similar to our own. The religion in Cameron’s world is founded in our world religions but more mythical. The magic is fascinating as everyone has their own take on their own magic. Each person believes that their magic comes from a certain source and they use that source to create magic. There are so many different religious philosophies in this book that different individuals practice and one of the more interesting aspects of this book is the question of the existence a god.
There aren’t large info dumps about this world and characters, we learn about the world and the characters as the book goes on. This can be a little overwhelming at first because we don’t really know a whole lot about anything for awhile in this book. The characters are intriguing and you want to read more to figure out what makes these characters tick. The Red Knight himself is shrouded in such mystery that I loved figuring out what his deal was.
There were a few pacing issues here and there and some point of views that were less than exciting. I think one complaint about this book is that there were just too many point of views. There are some point of views that focus on more mundane characters and even though I like seeing the impact of war on the little guy, they bogged down the story a little. I also think that the treatment of women in this novel is something a lot of people won’t care for. It borrows from history the treatment of women during the medieval ages and some fantasy readers are over that.
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron is one of the best researched epic fantasy books I ever read and with one of the most unique narrative styles. It just really worked for me. Imagine if there was an entire Game of Thrones book about just The Red Keep attack at King’s Landing and you have The Red Knight. It is a very male centered epic fantasy book with a lot of fights, great powerful magic, and mercenaries.
21/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Excellent)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 4(Strong)
Writing Style – 5(Excellent)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Good – Mind)