The Plague of Swords was a bit slower than the other Traitor Son Cycle books but still entertaining. The story follows up the big battle from the end of The Dread Wyrm almost immediately. The war is fully underway, but Plague of Swords feels more like the middle ground of the story. With the precedence for big battles set by the first three books, Plague of Swords felt slow. For the chain of events necessary to tell this story, seeing what are essentially board meetings makes sense. War requires a massive amount of planning and maneuvering. But comparatively, it made Plague of Swords feel slow.
As the previous books have already demonstrated, Miles Cameron is a master at applying his historical knowledge to his writing. If you take out the fantasy elements, the story plays out like a real medieval war. Whereas many other writers have the two sides just show up and fight, Cameron displays the planning and strategies implemented long before the battles begin, as well as the logistics required to pull them off. Cameron’s mastery of history also shines through once the battles commence. The details of how the characters use their weapons are second to none. Each soldier fights using different weapons for different scenarios; people are not just flailing swords or fighting in ways that look cool to the audience.
Most of the characters are already established at this point in the story. Character development is something else that Cameron is no slouch at and that continues in Plague of Swords. A few new characters do crop up as well, as more major powers enter the war. Some of these feel a bit underdeveloped since they do not have the previous three books backing them up. However, everything ultimately fits as each new variable is worked into the Red Knight’s plans and gambles.
This is the only book (thus far) in the Traitor Son cycle that I merit 4 stars instead of a full 5. Mainly, that was due to the pacing. Despite the awesome page count of each book and all that affords the story, Plague of Swords was the first time in the series I found myself thinking, “Ok, let’s pick up the pace here.” Despite that, it is still several steps ahead of many other fantasy books and a little slowness can be expected since this is the prelude to the finale. The fifth and final book in the Traitor Son Cycle will be shocking if it is not 5/5.