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The Red Knight: The Traitor Son Cycle    by Miles Cameron order for
Red Knight
by Miles Cameron
Order:  USA  Can
Orbit, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Miles Cameron's The Red Knight opens his new Traitor Son Cycle, an exceptional military fantasy with shades of The Magnificent Seven and hints of Game of Thrones. That said, it stands well on its own merits, with a variety of intriguing characters (on both sides of the war); remarkably credible battles and engagements; and a nicely convoluted plot.

The Red Knight, a twenty-year-old bastard with a nicely mysterious (yet noble) background is the relatively new leader of a band of mercenaries who badly need work. They're hired by the Abbess of the fortress/nunnery of Lissen Carak in Alba to deal with a monster from the Wild, seemingly a straightforward job. Instead they find themselves up against an army (of wyverns, golden bears, daemons, boglins, even human outwallers) led by a powerful sorceror, Thorn. They soon find themselves on the front lines of a war in which they're vastly outnumbered, and with a traitor inside their walls.

But the nuns of Lissen Carak have unexpected powers too (especially attractive young novice Amicia), as does the Red Knight himself. And others gradually involve themselves in the fray - a merchant's caravan; a young knight seeking redemption; men from overseas seeking power; hillmen/herders; the King's Magus once mentored - and bespelled - by Thorn; and the King and Queen of Alba themselves, with an army. The battle scenes (sorties, attacks on the fortress, encounters in the countryside) are exciting and astonishingly credible (in his Acknowledgements, the author credits 'thirty years of study, chivalric martial arts, real life, and role playing' as key influences) and the tension remains high.

As this first episode ends, Lissen Carak has been saved but at a high cost. The mercenaries are hired to rescue an Emperor, and invited to a tournament. The Red Knight and others travel to consult a great power, the Wyrm of Erch, a dragon who makes them his allies, gifts them with precious artifacts and offers his wisdom: 'Do well. Act with honour and dignity. Not because there is some promised reward, but because it is the only way to live.' I thoroughly enjoyed The Red Knight, highly recommend it to fantasy fans, and can't wait for more of the Traitor Son Cycle.

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