The Red Knight by Miles Cameron is a thoroughly enjoyable medieval fantasy hack-n-slash that is heavily focused on two things: grizzly authentic medieval combat, and making the main character as cool as possible in the eyes of the reader and everyone else in the story.
The book focuses on the war between mankind vs the wild (monsters), with the Red Knight being the leader of a mercenary company that quickly finds itself in the middle of several huge battles and a siege. The Red Knight has to use every trick of warfare and magic he knows to stay ahead and hold out while he waits for reinforcements that might never come, against an enemy that seems to have no end.
The story is told through multiple shifting POV characters, with the Red Knight being the main focus. While this continual shift in POVs can become confusing (there are a lot of minor characters from both sides of the fight) and frustrating (some of the chapters seemed a bit redundant), it ultimately blends the story together well. I particularly enjoyed POV chapters that focused on the Red Knight’s nemesis – Thorn – as it allowed you to appreciate the main character’s successes and failures from both sides of the conflict – something that is rarely done well in these kinds of books.
Cameron’s knowledge of medieval warfare really makes this book shine though. Every element of hand-to-hand combat and siegecraft is covered well, and his writing helps you ‘see’ every battle with incredible detail – from the difficulty and benefits of wearing full plate, to the severity of different wounds and injuries. I have never read a book that did fight scenes so well, and Cameron is definitely my new yard-stick to evaluate others against in this area.
I had read the book when it was initially released, but have recently revisited it through the audiobook version read by Matthew Wolf. I enjoyed this version primarily because Wolf makes the Red Knight sound like Sean Bean’s ‘Sharpe’ – a TV series I am somewhat obsessed with – but I doubt this would be a compelling enough reason for the majority of people, so stick with the normal text version instead!
I should point out that there are a lot of complaints in other reviews about grammatical errors, spelling, and continuity errors in the book. These are correct, but they are not significant and didn’t detract from my enjoyment. That said, I’m not sure why Cameron doesn’t go back and fix them in the Kindle version of his work?
Thoroughly enjoyable hack-n-slash with some interesting ideas: 8/10
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