The Red Knight by Miles Cameron


Twenty-eight florins a month is a huge price to pay for a man to stand between you and the Wild. 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 intelligent, deadly creatures of the Wild is even more challenging.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the devil’s luck 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 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. . .


The Red Knight, known to the reader as the Captain, brings his mercenary company into the lands known as Albia, a territory encircled by the Wild. Their mission is to make it to Lissen Carak, a citadel that has fallen on hard times. Lissen Carak is home to a nunnery and a small town that puts on a market yearly, during which the area’s major trade takes place and maybe overrun due to the encroaching threat of wild beasts. The Captain has been offered a contract to investigate a murder and guard the market from the unknown forces that lurk in the Wild. From this starting point, Miles Cameron, a pen name for Christian Cameron, begins to weave a multi-threaded plot with multiple POVs focusing on areas throughout Albia, his fictional fantasy world, bringing charters into minor skirmishes with wild beasts, threats, and arguments at the court until a climatic larger scale battle with an outcome that is unexpected and rewarding. Bring your armored horse on this ride and prepare yourself, reader.

“We don’t make the violence. We merely deal with it as it comes to us.”

The first time I read The Red Knight by Miles Cameron, I printed a map on the author’s website. OK, I printed out three maps. One, because I love a good map, and two, I knew the brick of a fantasy book I was getting into was full of lore, strategy, and gore. These adult multi-POV fantasy chapters adjust from area to area across the world Mr. Cameron has created, a feudal medieval territory where townspeople are safe until they veer too far off the road.

This first statement will daunt some readers, but Mr. Cameron, a historical reenactor and gamer, created the Traitors Son Cycle and the 1st book, The Red Knight, based on a gaming campaign he played previously and his background in writing historical fiction along with his other pursuits led his writing to be highly detailed, and historically accurate. Mr. Cameron describes how a fully armored knight would fight a wyvern, like a surgeon would handle an emergency but with a slight amount of flare to go along with the respect it deserves. The same is felt when he writes about a monster eating a knight alive foot first.

The cast of characters is substantial; some don’t make it very far, and others stick it out through most of the series. The Red Knight, known as the Captain, Thorn, Master Random, Sister Amicia, Harmodius (one of my favorite mage characters in the fantasy genre), Sauce, Wilful Murder, and Bad Tom are just a few characters that shine in this book, and there are so many more. Bad Tom and Harmodius are expertly shaped. One is a brute force of nature unchanging and wreaking havoc in times of peace or in times of battle, and Harmodius starts out as a bumbling and forgetful mage like Merlin in Disney’s Sword in the Stone movie and breaks out of his shell as the book progresses.

Mr. Cameron wrote a complex magic system based on each caster’s mind’s internal workings. There is a good system and an evil system. The author’s writing leads to philosophical discussions on each that push the plot deeper in the Red Knight book and even further into the Traitors Son Cycle series itself, leading into the ideas of dragons and other worlds.

“Do well. Act with honor and dignity. Not because there is some promised reward, but because it is the only way to live.”

When a reader thinks of epic fantasy, when they say they want a big series to jump into, the names of Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, or Joe Abercrombie come to mind, but for me, Miles Cameron’s Red Knight and the rest of the Traitors Son Cycle are what I would recommend. The realism, chivalry, and attention to detail not just for the courtly and honorable knights, the military efficiency of a mercenary army, but also the comings and goings of tradespeople and servants are represented with respect and dignity. This comes through even with the Wild, the native people, and the creatures represented within it.

One of the only weaknesses in Mr. Cameron’s Red Knight is that it is a first fantasy book, so like thousands of other first books, it creates a foundation for many books to come. His work is direct and planned, but some readers may be put off by the details he touches, from fur and linen trade to how tables are set up and how servants and squires work and are treated. I loved learning how a proper court is run and how the Red Knight’s camps are set up, but other readers just want to jump into the violence and politics and skip those details.

“His sword took the nearest neatly, because killing fleeing infantryman was an essential part of knightly training, taken for granted, like courage.”

Speaking of the violence. Yes, knights get shredded by golden bears and boggles chew off legs sucking the meat right off the bone. There are large battles between knights, their squires, and archers on one side pitted against an angry hoard of beasts bent on capturing a nunnery, and all the treasure inside it holds within the walls. The vilest villain in the entire book isn’t the devious fallen mage known as Thorn, whose POV is quite enjoyable, but a knight whom Mr. Cameron writes with relish, showing how chivalry can be used in a negative sense.

Mr. Cameron’s skill of creating this land (Morea, Albia, and other territories) and knowing the distances, factions, and geography show throughout the books as knights (mages and nuns) use fields, mountains, roads, and ditches to their advantage, and each area has its own personality and people. The farmers, hill folk, nobles, merchants, and native peoples are treated with courtesy and respect, fleshed out as living, breathing people. One of the most essential characters starts as a laundress and moves into a prominent position of power over the course of the series, showing that war and politics can change lives.

I never wanted to skip a POV or chapter like I have for other traditionally published authors in a multi-POV book. I always felt there was more to learn and gain from each POV I came to. Each chapter has multiple POVs broken up by where the POV takes place, which I have not seen before. It works well in creating a sprawling scene where, by the end of the Red Knight, it all comes together in a grand conflict. The blood and gore are there, and the casualties mount until the entire kingdom is at stake, and only the Red Knight and his hardened yet wary mercury group can trumpet or fail.

Mr. Cameron slightly plays with the ideas and themes of the legend of King Author and his knights, but it’s never bluntly forced. The book is a large, detailed, slow burn, and the author’s work makes each POV shine with an accurate medieval fantasy representation. Mr. Cameron is known for his writing – fight videos and historical fiction Tom Swan novels. His historical books spread from Greece and Persia to Europe, and he’s also spread his writing into other genres.

The cover by Epica Prima is a standard fantasy cover with a sword front and center and the title, but the back, which looks like parchment and states, “Out beyond the walls are creatures who would crack your armor to eat what lies within…” is what sold me years ago when I bought my copy. I have read this book multiple times and enjoy it and the rest of the series every time I pick it up.

The Red Knight, book one of the Traitors Son Cycle, connects to his other fantasy series, Master and Mages, Age of Bronze, and potentially other books he writes into a large sphere and plot line that continues to spread the more books he writes. So far, there are over ten fantasy books in his bibliography. Start with the Red Knight and get sucked into a world of chivalry, magic, and courtly politics.