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The Red Knight
Miles Cameron
Gollancz, 650 pages

The Red Knight
Miles Cameron
Miles Cameron is a military veteran and historian. He has a degree in Medieval History and lives with his wife and daughter in the most multi-cultural city in the world. There’s also a cat. So far, no horse. However, there are a great many pieces of armour, swords, pole-axes, tents, camp kettles, bits of horse harness, and other guarantees that the author spends far too much money on reenacting.

Miles Cameron Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'Someone co-operated with a daemon to murder a nun.' The captain scratched under his beard. 'Even by my standards, that's pretty bad.'
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The first of a proposed five book sequence, The Red Knight is the debut novel for Miles Cameron, although the author has published historical fiction under another name. Therefore it comes as no great surprise that this work is loaded with detail and world building creation. There's also a satisfying level of characterisation, which goes deeper than the average fantasy novel, producing a more realistic cast. The author clearly understands the Medieval context of his world, which allows him to present authentic feeling scenarios, even when dealing with magic. The character of the title is a mercenary commander, young but experienced enough to know what he's doing, and with sufficient hidden depths to keep him interesting. But does this story make it through the knight?

The Red Knight and his trusty band find themselves on a mission, to rid a local abbey of its monster problem. Naturally -- or perhaps that should be supernaturally -- the problem is a lot bigger than anyone thought, and it soon becomes clear that the entire kingdom of Alba is in peril. This run-of-the-mill theme is helped by the fact that the author is both an historian and a regular participant in historical re-enactments. So he knows the technicalities of wearing armour from a practical and personal perspective. Actual experiences also obviously enhance his ability to write attention grabbing combat scenes. Although it should be said that this work is not by any means an all-action gore fest. In fact the author makes time for the finer things in his characters's lives. There are plenty of characters too, and multiple points of view from both good and bad guys. Historically convincing for the most part, and with a reasonably fresh take on the mechanisms of magic, it's a book that often rises above many of its contemporaries. Unfortunately, Miles Cameron cannot resist tossing in references to Jesus, the odd real world philosopher, and places based on actual locations. This uncomfortable meld does not always sit well with what is unquestionably fantasy. In other words, trying to have it both ways makes it harder to immerse oneself and accept the Red Knight's world. Having said that, the underlying conflict between man and nature does work nicely, and among the best scenes are those written from the perspective of characters who live outside the restrictions of so-called civilised life. Even if the shine gets tarnished a little by a bog-standard big bad, who for me did not live up to the book's early promise.

In summary, The Red Knight has much to recommend it, and a few elements that will irritate or disappoint some readers. I hope the series turns out to be something special, but can't help but think that such greatness is heavily dependent upon how adept the author proves in navigating his own choppy waters.

Copyright © 2013 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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