When I first read Miles Cameron’s fantasy works, The Red Knight and The Fell Sword, I was immediately enthralled by the world that had been created and the depth to which the author had gone to bring the reader into that world. I was therefore unsurprisingly excited for the release of the third book in the Traitor Son Cycle, which was published late-2015 – The Dread Wyrm.
And while I did enjoy this instalment in the series, I was left a little disheartened upon turning the final page. The book left me upset – not at anyone within the book, but with the author himself. Miles Cameron had torn through lives like a child through wrapping paper, and with as little concern. And while this might be explained away by claims of seeking “realism” and “grit”, it seemed to me an unaccountably confusing way to go about things. People were killed off in ways that didn’t really make much sense, characters were barely upset at some of these deaths, and many otherwise brave men and women were suddenly rushing headlong into death for the sheer sake of it.
By the time I was finished, so many people had died that I wasn’t really affected by any of the deaths at all. The author had made me numb to the “gritty reality” I suspect he was aiming to create. I didn’t believe the way these characters had been written into death – many making decisions or ending up in battles that simply did not make much sense. Furthermore, other characters which were hyped to be utterly instrumental were suddenly pulled off the board with very little explanation.
Nevertheless, despite these blatant issues that clouded the final act of the book, this series continues to be utterly enthralling. Even as I grew angrier at the events taking place, and the seeming unconcern the author was paying to relating a realistic story, I couldn’t help but continually and frantically turn page after page, hoping that our heroes would come out ahead.
And maybe that is what makes me still love this series.
I was insistent with myself that I not review the book immediately upon finishing it – it’s now been around 5 days. I knew that my frustration at what I thought was mishandling of characters and lives would seriously detract from my overall enjoyment of the book – and with time, that seeming-mishandling has diminished somewhat. There is still one death I cannot countenance and do not believe would have happened in the medieval world this book relies so heavily upon, but the remaining anger has dissipated, leaving me simply wanting more of this fantastic and sprawling epic.
The whole world completely enthrals me, engaging both my love of history and my love of fantasy. The dynamics of the character’s relationships are beautifully intricate, realistic, and at times simply wonderful. The main romantic subplot in this series has taken a wonderful turn, and one that not only has a taste of genuineness to it, but one that appears to be on a path to happiness.
In the end, The Dread Wyrm let me down when compared to its predecessors. Despite the continuation of a massive and dramatic overarching story, and the growth of characters throughout the book, I felt as if there were several aspects which were hurried and dismissed. But I freely admit I might be unfairly biased about how a book should be written to convey realism. Nevertheless, despite my disappointment, The Dread Wyrm still entertained me right till the final page turn.
Review by Joshua S Hill
7/10 from 1 reviews
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