I’d read the previous books in this series and enjoyed them – see my review of The Dread Wyrm, The Red Knight and The Fell Sword – then somehow this one slipped through the cracks, so when I saw it on the library shelves, I scooped it up, despite blanching at the prospect of reading 600+ pages of reasonably small print…
BLURB: In the climax of the Traitor Son Cycle, the allied armies of the Wild and the Kingdoms of men and women must face Ash for control of the gates to the hermetical universe, and for control of their own destinies. But exhaustion, treachery and time may all prove deadlier enemies. In Alba, Queen Desiderata struggles to rebuild her kingdom wrecked by a year of civil war, even as the Autumn battles are fought in the west. In the Terra Antica, The Red Knight attempts to force his unwilling allies to finish the Necromancer instead of each other. But as the last battle nears, The Red Knight makes a horrifying discovery… all of this fighting may have happened before.
One of the reasons why I’d hesitated in getting hold of this one, was my concern that I would have forgotten too many details about the series that would make getting back into this world something of a struggle. In the event, that didn’t prove to be a problem. Cameron’s smooth writing and delivery ensured that I was quickly brought up to speed where necessary, and at no time did I flounder in trying to work out what was going on. This is a feat on his part, because just like in George RR Martin’s a Song of Ice and Fire series, the action takes place in a variety of locations and the viewpoint shifts between a wide cast of characters. I often find this structure to be annoying, as my preferred scenarios tend to play out in tightly confined backdrops featuring a small number of well-developed and highly nuanced characters to get the depth of story that I really appreciate.
Given that most of the book is concerned with an ongoing war, wherein an increasing number of skirmishes lead up to a large set-piece battle, this clearly wasn’t going to happen. Yet I was pulled into the book almost from the first page and found the pages turned themselves as I was swept along by the action, identifying with each character’s motives.
One of the reasons why this worked so well was Cameron’s mastery of the pacing. Just as I was beginning to wonder what would be filling the rest of the book, there was a sudden twist in the story that gave the whole world a completely different dimension. I’m not going to say more on the grounds that it would be a real spoiler, but it certainly worked well and added an extra layer of poignancy to the current struggle. One of my difficulties with epic fantasy is that it frequently lacks that layer of emotional connection that I particularly enjoy – hardly a surprise when the action is often the driving force in the narrative with each character playing a relatively small piece in the overarching battle plan. Cameron manages to make his characters matter to the extent that one of the reasons why those pages kept turning was that I really cared about a number of his cast and was keen to see what would happen to them. Inevitably, in this war scenario a number of them don’t make it – something else that I generally heartily dislike. And yet this time around I took a deep breath and just kept on reading.
Of course, the catch in this form of writing is that the final battle has to deliver with plenty of heart-stopping action and a huge climax that also packs an emotional punch sufficient to satisfy the reader who has slogged through the previous 600+ pages to get here. Again, Cameron triumphantly succeeds. I finished this book with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, feeling hollowed out by the resultant drama. This book is a marvellous end to a really high-quality series. Recommended for fans of epic and high fantasy.
Wonderful review! I love when everything comes together just right and a 600 page book flies by. I still have to check out the first one in this series, but I’m glad you’re still enjoying it!
Thank you, Sarah. Yes – it’s always reassuring to discover that a series goes on delivering right to the end, isn’t it?
Yes it is!
Great review, I loved this book and the series.👍
Thank you Drew. I, too, enjoyed the series, though I did find the second book very heavy going for a while. And it is a testament to the writing, as epic fantasy isn’t my go-to genre, these days.
Wow, this sounds epic. I love ending a satisfying read with tears in my eyes, as those usually get a 5 star rating from me😁 Lovely review!
Thank you, Tammy:)). Yes – I love those endings, too. And to be honest – I hadn’t expected to be so profoundly affected, given that it had been a while ago since I read the fourth book in the series.
You and your dragons! LOL
Seriously, great review, friend.
I know! It’s now official – I’m a pushover for a strong draconic element. So long as it’s well written, of course:)). I have to confess that dear old Vrox – my telepathic alien – has more than a passing resemblance to dragonkind…
I was trying not to add any more books to my ready-to-explode TBR, but after your review (and that cover – oh, that cover!!!) I can’t help myself and add this series to my “wanted” list: an author who can so successfully mix action and character development is one I must read 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing!!
His battle scenes are fabulous – I recall thinking that he must have been in armour at some point, before discovering that he has taken part in battle re-enactments.
Oh, that’s interesting! Usually I’m not a fan of battle scenes, but there are some authors (John Gwynne and Joe Abercrombie) that render them with such cinematic quality that I’m drawn by the descriptions. Since this author has actually taken part in re-enactments, he will certainly have to offer some intriguing insights…
He does! I love how knights in full armour are completely robbed of any peripheral vision, for instance. And he also has his knights struggling with the sheer weight of the armour if the battle goes on for any length of time…
I haven’t yet read any John Gwynne, though I own a copy of Malice – but I agree with your comparison of Joe Abercrombie:)
WOW! You make what I suspect is a bit of a slog for me sound so epic!! Hahahha. I do love multiple POV but an ongoing war and many, many page battles … I don’t know. But now I feel like I would be missing out not to give it a go. ❤️ Excellent review.
It is an awesome series. Perhaps you could read a sample on Amazon of The Red Knight – and if you wanted to get someone else’s input – Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek is also a fan… https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com/
This is a series that I’ve always wanted to read – of course being so far behind doesn’t fill me with joy but having finished on such a strong note it does make me want to start this.
The good news is that it’s on Kindle Unlimited, which I’m delighted about:)).
Happy to hear this book handled a fantasy war so well. It seems a war setting can cause so many problems with developing characters or decently establishing the setting. Clearly Cameron didn’t have that problem 🙂
No, and that’s his superpower. He is really good at keeping the narrative drive powering forward when there’s a lot going on. And his battle scenes are fabulous.