Book of the Year 2013 (see all)
One of the greatest literary highlights for me in 2013 was finding ‘The Red Knight’ by Miles Cameron. Released at the beginning of the year, I came to it with only a few days of the year left, but it still ranked as one of the best books I’d read. Discovering that I was therefore only a month or so away from the sequel left me in a dizzying wait, one that was recently concluded with the arrival on my doorstep of ‘The Fell Sword’.
While there is a case to be made that the sprawling story doesn’t always illustrate clearly the distances and different names involved, leaving the reader occasionally confused by swaps in perspective, it’s not much of a case and definitely doesn’t detract from the overall quality.
Miles Cameron is, I suspect, a learned man, deeply in love with the history of Catholicism, European history, and medieval military workings. From the words chosen through to the visceral descriptions of battles and the nearly-baffling intricacies of medieval armouring, Miles Cameron has written a story which transports the author to a different place and time entirely.
Thankfully, when we are landed in this very different place and time we are not alone, joined instead by a cast of characters that range from the misunderstood mercenary captain-come-newly crowned Duke, to the nicknamed-archers who inextricably grab a hold of your heart with their earthy ways and tear you up inside when they die.
What left me most impressed after reading The Fell Sword was just how excited I am for future works. The Red Knight very much served as a prologue, with The Fell Sword as the first act. We were introduced to the players and the world, but not much of the overarching storyline. That changed dramatically in The Fell Sword, as the subplots and twists and turns began to shape, setting up big confrontations to come over the next (fictional) several years.
There is a real panoply of fantasy archetypes being employed here, from old gods to dragons, minions and pawns, grasping power and thwarting evil. Altogether, it makes for fascinating reading, and while a lot is hinted at and not much revealed, it is done in such a way as to keep the reader in the loop, rather than as a showcase for just how tricky the writer is. Many times authors lay down breadcrumbs which are only ever revealed on the final page of a multi-book-long series, if then! In The Fell Sword we actually get to ride alongside as major players make hidden cameos.
The Traitor Son Cycle (as this series is called) is definitely a book for fans of “good old fashioned fantasy”. Bastard sons, swords and shields, battle tactics and political intrigue, it’s all here and more, and worth every moment. Miles Cameron is approaching the throne held by writers like Jordan, Erikson, and Sanderson, with his own bag of medieval tricks thrown in for good measure.
Review by Joshua S Hill
9/10 from 1 reviews
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