The Red Knight by Miles Cameron

The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle)

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“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. . .”

As I began reading this book, I saw other reviews of it trickling onto the Internet.  The experience that other people had on reading this book seems, by and large, to be quite different from mine.  Other reviews have been glowing, while mine… well, mine isn’t quite that good.

I think my main problem stems from the novel’s extremely slow pace.  Yes, there are battle scenes aplenty, and the author describes the action fairly well.  At issue is the fact that while there are battles, the main plot stagnates in place for far too long.  After the Red Knight and his mercenaries get to the Abbey, they almost immediately face a siege, which is a long stretch of waiting, interspersed with a lot of conversations with veiled and cryptic references.  I began skipping passages about a quarter of the way through the story.

Another large problem for me is the overall set-up.  This author is a man who desperately wants to be George R. R. Martin (and to be fair, that’s the main comparison being made in the promotional announcements).  He has tons of characters and points of view.  Many of the characters have a given name and a colorful nickname.  There are armies moving.  There are conflicts between those in power.  There’s even a Wall and creatures from beyond the Wall who exude fear.  It all smacks too much of Westeros for me to give this setting any real credence.

Cameron’s writing is very descriptive, which is a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, readers should have no trouble visualizing locations, characters and events.  On the other hand, he describes every bit of clothing, armor and weaponry on all of those characters, whether you need to know all that info or not.  The author is an expert on medieval weapons and armor, and it shows: he pulls out terms that even I haven’t heard of.  I think Cameron’s strength of description would have worked well in a novel that was more tightly plotted.

Eventually, at about the two-thirds mark, I simply gave up on the book.  It was an effort for me to get that far.  I think that this particular book was simply not to my taste.  It’s not that the author writes badly; rather, his style didn’t suit me.  From what I’ve seen online, it does suit a lot of people very well indeed, so I’ll point fans of Martin, Jordan and Erikson at this book and leave it at that.

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on January 31, 2013.

Series: The Traitor Son Cycle
ISBN: 9780316212281
Publisher: Orbit
Page Count: 672
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Author Website
Read an excerpt