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Bane of Kings reviews the Orbit-published epic fantasy debut from Miles Cameron, The Red Knight.
“A great debut, a new voice to high fantasy has arrived.” ~The Founding Fields
The Red Knight has been on my to-read list ever since I first saw it on Orbit’s Coming Soon page. Sure, I know – it’s epic fantasy, a genre that can either be really good or really bad depending on what books you read, and with a debut it’s often riskier than others. However, it wasn’t long before I found engrossed in the world of The Red Knight, and as a result, will be eagerly looking forward to anything else that Miles Cameron writes.
Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.
Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern’s jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men – or worse, a company of mercenaries – against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.
It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.
The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he’s determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it’s just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can’t deal with.
Only it’s not just a job. It’s going to be a war…
Even though The Red Knight may be epic fantasy, it can at times feel similiar to historical fiction – of course, there are enough elements to make it feel like epic fantasy – but it comes dangerously close to crossing the line into historical fiction at times. However, fantasy readers who love military fantasy should enjoy The Red Knight, as this is a tale about war – with several action packed encounters that are written really well.
As the book is told in short chunks from varying POV characters, this allows the author to tell the tale from both sides – even though you may sometimes find yourself bogged down with the amount of characters that are included in this debut – and I felt at times a dramatis personae could really benefit this book, like it did in Joe Abercrombie’sThe Heroes.
However, there are a ton of strong characters in this book – most notably of course, the Red Knight of the title. He was my favourite character of the book and I think I’m not the only one who likes him the most. Cameron finds a way to handle most characters almost effectively - although I could have done with a few less characters getting POVs as I felt there was a bit too much for myself to get ahold of.
The world itself is pretty well developed, and we get a vast cast of characters to convey the setting of the world. However, at certain points the description manages to bog down the pacing a bit so it can feel somewhat slow in places, which is the flaw that I think the book boasted along with the amount of characters.
The historical fiction approach that I mentioned earlier is somewhat reinforced by the appearance of two authors, Zoe Oldenbourg and Maurice Druon – there might be more but those are the two notables. Although to be fair, I didn’t know this whilst reading the book – I only found this out by checking out a couple of reviews. The book itself goes on to set up the sequel, The Fell Sword, which I am looking forward to and will be reading if I can – after all, The Red Knight was a strong debut and Cameron can only get better (hopefully) from here on in.