The Fell Sword picks up shortly after the end of The Red Knight. Extending from the previous novel’s ending, The Red Knight and his company leave the Kingdom of Alba for a new job in the Empire. Whereas The Red Knight worked as a standalone story, The Fell Sword feels more like an installment in a series. It is better established here that The Traitor Son Cycle is one big story broken into five parts. Events are less resolved by the end and the characters are left with outstanding problems and an uncertain future.
As with the previous book, The Fell Sword jumps between various points-of-view. As the Red Knight and his surviving company members ride towards the Empire, events in Alba continue to move forward through the perspectives of the Queen and Jean de Vrailly. The Fell Sword also introduces a number of new characters, most of whom are located in the Imperial capital Livianopolis. All these different POVs, and the high page count, leave room for many plots and subplots throughout the novel. The new POVs do not extend exclusively to human characters either.
The creatures of The Wild are still present in The Fell Sword, though not as at the forefront as before. With the conflict here focused more on human vs. human violence, The Wild is more involved in world building. The various creatures of The Wild are better introduced with their own cultures and societies. They come across more as people than mere monsters as their history and relationship with humanity is expanded upon. Whether human or Wild, every character here feels complex and real. There is no black and white in Cameron’s world. Today’s enemy could be tomorrow’s ally or vice versa in these lands filled with shades of grey.
Along with the characters, the world building is greatly expanded in The Fell Sword. New lands are visited with new maps featured at the front of the book. The magic system also develops significantly, in no small part due to the magic university in Livianopolis. And as in The Red Knight, Cameron’s experience as a student of history shines during the battle sequences. That is not to say his expertise does not shine through elsewhere, but (magic notwithstanding) his battles feel like they could be recounting actual historic military campaigns. Also like The Red Knight, there is significantly more to The Fell Sword than can fit into this little review and it is recommended for any fan of epic fantasy.