“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…”
Mile’s Cameron’s The Red Knight is an absolutely outstanding novel. I haven’t read such an impressive and engrossing Epic Fantasy in years. Comparisons are cheap, I know, and I apologise in advance for this, but this is 100% the thing for any George RR Martin fans looking for something fresh to obsess over. For me, Cameron has all the benefits of Martin, but with a little extra bonus thrown in, as there are hints of Gemmell in there too. Gemmell + Martin = heaven for me.
The most obvious comparison to Martin is in the structure of the novel, where we have multiple sections from multiple POVs. Cameron keeps these sections a lot shorter than Martin, and, to begin with at least, things can get pretty confusing as we’re introduced to a lot of characters and the narrative feels bitty and disjointed. Cameron soon brings everything together though, and whilst this isn’t an easy read it’s a massively rewarding one. A drop in pace is the price that’s sometimes paid for the intensity of the detail, and that will bother some, but for me it was a happy trade-off in places. Whilst I’m already making comparisons I might as well also throw in that this series is shaping up to offer as much rich and all-consuming detail as Erikson, and for my money Cameron shows the new supposed “giants” of gritty fantasy – Abercrombie and Lawrence, how it’s done. He wipes the floor with the pair of them. Watch and learn, good Sirs. Cameron’s bringing Epic back.
The Red Knight is a compelling series opener, composed of equal parts Historical Fantasy, earth based Magic and a beautifully detailed approach to battle. I’ve heard people complain that Cameron brings nothing new to the genre, and it may well be true that his novel deals with “standard fantasy tropes”, but it deals with them brilliantly, there’s nothing ‘standard’ about his writing. I understand that many readers are tiring of the medieval fantasy setting, but I’d heartily suggest giving The Red Knight a go even if you feel that way, because seeing it done So Very Well might make you re-think. It works beautifully.
The Red Knight is an intelligent and beautifully detailed Epic Fantasy, one of the finest I’ve read, and I’ve been reading Epic for more years than I’d care to admit. The sheer scope of the novel is breathtaking, the characters are well rounded and believable, and the battle scenes are the best I’ve read to date. I cannot recommend this highly enough.