The Dread Wyrm (The Traitor Son Cycle #3)

The Dread Wyrm Book Cover The Dread Wyrm
The Traitor Son Cycle
Miles Cameron
Fantasy
Orbit (originally Gollancz)
October 20, 2015 (originally October 15, 2015)
Paperback
608

Some are born to power. Some seize it. And some have the wisdom never to wield it. 
The Red Knight has stood against soldiers, armies and the might of an empire without flinching. He's fought on real and magical battlefields alike, and now he's facing one of the greatest challenges yet. A tournament.

A joyous spring event, the flower of the nobility will ride against each other for royal favor and acclaim. It's a political contest -- one which the Red Knight has the skill to win. But the stakes may be higher than he thinks. The court of Alba has been infiltrated by a dangerous faction of warlike knights, led by the greatest knight in the world: Jean de Vrailly -- and the prize he's fighting for isn't royal favor, but the throne of Alba itself...

 

Note: This review will contain some spoilers regarding the first two books.

The Red Knight and The Fell Sword were a strong start and The Dread Wyrm turns it up to 11. Readers are now in the thick of this fantasy epic really reads like one giant book. Think of the Traitor Son Cycle as more Lord of the Rings then Narnia, as far as structuring goes. The previous book was a bit slow with a lot of planning and politics stretched out between the major battles. In The Dread Wyrm, the war begins in earnest and there is little rest for the characters between each battle.

A lot of questions begin to be answered in The Dread Wyrm. As with the previous books, the world building is expanded quite a bit throughout this novel. Readers learn more about the various races and the major powers at play in the war. As battles begin to break out in various regions, it becomes more and more apparent that all these conflicts either are or will soon be connected. Some will live, others will die, and all will continue to fight until only one side is left standing.

The action sequences are plentiful in The Dread Wyrm, to say the least. After the slower pace of The Fell Sword, it was nice to have the action ramped up. The action sequences are not limited to big, Braveheart level battles either. The story includes one-on-one duels, surprise attacks, and magical combat on the level of the Battle of Hogwarts. There are still slower points here and there for exposition and character development, but these sequences feel fairly limited compared to the immense amount of action here. Miles Cameron has already shown that he can write a siege, from both inside a fortress and outside it, and he has now shown he can just as effectively write a war.

On the subject of war: war is hell and people die. And my goodness does Miles Cameron make that apparent here. He is by no means afraid to kill characters off and does so increasingly as The Dread Wyrm moves forward. Spoilers suck, but I cannot review this book and do it justice without saying that two of my favorite characters die in a single battle alone. And that constant stream of death makes the war feel all the more real. No one is safe, any character can die at a moment’s notice because that is how war works. And the pain of that loss affects the survivors, empowering them with rage on the battlefield and hampering them with grief when the fighting is over. This story is far from over and the war has just begun, with more losses sure to come until the final battle is over.

November 11, 2018

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