Liviu's Reviews > The Red Knight

The Red Knight by Miles  Cameron
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's review
Sep 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012_release_read, genre-fantasy, read_2012, t_notable_books_2012
Read from October 24 to 31, 2012


i read 100+ pages out of probably the most expected remaining book of 2012 for me, The Red Knight by Miles Cameron and it is very good though it is not quite what i expected so far; the setting is truly medieval with small cities at least so far in the Nord/West - the world may be something like Earth ~1000 so the east may be much more developed; the Wild is out there and it has its denizens, its sentients, its allies and its manipulators but there is also the Church and God's magic as well as more secular human magic; violence and casual brutality abound and life is cheap, but things, especially well made such like armor and weapons are expensive
many pov's and quite a few strands of action, while the narrative flows - if there were a quick comparison for now, a mix of CS Friedman Coldfire and Zoe Oldenburg famed medieval life novels (like The World is not Enough) with a lot more violence

the setting is either an alt-earth or a post-apocalytic one and if this keeps up i could see this one going to #1 for 2012 for me; the book also has images of various characters (at least so far) and these are the first lines

"The Captain of Albinkirk forced himself to stop staring out his narrow, glazed window and do some work.
He was jealous. Jealous of a boy a third of his age, commanding a pretty company of lances. Riding about. While he sat in a town so safe it was dull, growing old
Don’t be a fool, he told himself. All those deeds of arms make wonderful stories, but the doing is cold, wet and terrifying. Remember?
He sighed. His hands remembered everything – the blows, the nights on the ground, the freezing cold, the gauntlets that didn’t quite fit. His hands pained him all the time, awake or
The Captain of Albinkirk, Ser John Crayford, had not started his life as a gentleman. It was a rank he’d achieved through pure talent.
For violence."

I finished Red Knight by Miles Cameron and while I loved it quite a lot and will be in my top 25 of the year, I think that Anthony Ryan's Blood Song (which is still the number one debut of the year and also the best fantasy debut since Name of the Wind) is a stronger debut, while David Hair's Mage's Blood is another one which I may rate slightly higher, though i may rate this one higher...

Red Knight tries and mostly succeeds to combine three things:

- a very historical fiction approach to medieval fantasy as for example appearing in authors like Maurice Druon and Zoe Oldenbourg (I am pretty sure there are such from the UK/US but none come to mind, maybe Pillars of the Earth to some extent would qualify; one characteristic is that life is cheap, but things are expensive); this means the writing is very unsentimental, quite brutal on occasion and is much closer to historical fiction in many ways than it is to fantasy even of the "gritty" kind

- a magical system based on the power of the wild nature, green rather than dark so to speak and embodied in various creatures and people versus the power of the sun, light embodied in the Church and people; this system reminds one strongly of CS Friedman's Cold Fire while the memory chamber approach also reminds of KJ Parker's "rooms"

- a military component as most of the book is war; this gets a bit tiring at the end when slaughtering "boglins" by the thousands becomes tedious, but it has a lot of great moments where the combination of medieval weapons and tactics with modern such given by sorcery (eg aerial bombardment by wyverns, but much more) brings something new to the table; this part is done very well, only it is a bit too long in the end

The structure of the book is in short chunks from multiple POV's and it works mostly well with narrative flowing though I can easily see it leading to confusion in parts. There are a ton of impressive characters of all kinds, most notably the title hero, The (mysterious) Red Knight (about whom we find out in due time most everything about parentage and upbringing with the rest being implied), the real bad boy "Bad Tom" Lachlan, the two sorcerers Thorn and Harmodius, the abbess who hires the Red Knight to protect her important convent/fortress, Queen Desiderata, some local and foreign knights, a few daemons - these are powers of the wild and guardians of the outwallers, an escaped slave who becomes a member of the Sossag one of the "outwallers" indian like tribes and not least a wise and very powerful Dragon.

Where I have reservations is in balance and integration of these quite disparate elements, integration that does not fully work so the book occasionally is less than the sum of its parts, while as mentioned the military aspect becomes somewhat repetitive at the end; also as in most fantasies, the separation of the main hero and his love interest looks really artificial (but this is true to some extent in Blood Song and Mage's Blood, only LE Modesitt not shying away from married heroes with children...); the end of The Red Knight is actually superb as it goes beyond solving the main storyline and setting up the next book The Fell Sword (about which Miles told me he is on page 423 as of a few days ago), but also brings new main players into focus and has a "conversation" for the ages.

Overall, an excellent debut that I hope will find its audience as it combines a few things that usually stay separate in fiction, while I am convinced the technical aspects will only get better as the series progresses.

You can see excellent artwork with all characters on the author's page HERE

FBC Review here; mostly the above with more detail and of course much more coherence
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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the_cat Well well... any idea if this Miles Cameron is related to Christian Cameron? Living in Toronto, reenactor weapons expert... ***scratches head

message 2: by Liviu (last edited Sep 19, 2012 05:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liviu I have no idea and did not even think of it - did not know the above facts and otherwise Cameron is a fairly common name; will look into

message 3: by David (new) - added it

David "Miles Cameron is a pseudonym for a writer of historical fiction." Saw that on one of the Amazon pages I think. Trying to figure out who he really is!

Liviu well, if the supposition we make here turns out to be true this book has jumped a few notches and will try to get a copy asap from Orbit and of course buy the UK from Gollancz on publication - usually one could easily tell from the writing btw even when the pseudonyms are guarded

here is the Amazon quote btw

"Miles Cameron is a full time writer who lives in Canada with his family. He also writes historical fiction under another name. THE RED KNIGHT is his fantasy debut."

message 5: by Liviu (last edited Sep 20, 2012 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liviu Here is the biography of "Miles Cameron"

And forgot to add - here is the biography of Christian Cameron:

the_cat CC posted recently an update on his website and around half way he says "and a 'secret' project which will be out later this year... "

This is not a book that calls to me too much per se. But if CC has written it I'm very interested.
He must have a clone writing 24/7...

Liviu to be honest, I was not sure that much about it as fantasy per se though I would have given it a try, but as it is quite likely that Miles Cameron is Christian Cameron's pseudonym (even the Gollancz page makes it clear that Miles Cameron is a full time author writing historical fiction under a different name), this became a huge asap and the fantasy debut of the year and I plan to cover it extensively on FBC

message 8: by David (new) - added it

David I'm definitely picking up Red Knight and I just got a copy of Vlad. I've not read CC yet, but as my tastes closely follow your own, Liviu, I'm sure I'll enjoy both :)

message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris I have no comment to make at this time... :) but I certainly have spent a lot of time reading Medieval romances lately. And you might want to check out 'The Green Squire' on Facebook.

Liviu Thank you for the comment; definitely a hugely awaited book and one I plan to read asap and review it here, on FBC...

Vaelin Hi Liviu, I just used your review of this top book to refresh my memory before I plunge into The Fell Sword....I have a few more plot questions that I will PM you , cheers

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