cover image The Plague of Swords

The Plague of Swords

Miles Cameron. Orbit, $16.99 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-0-316-30242-5

The dense fourth novel in the Traitor Son Cycle isn’t an easy jumping-on point for newcomers, but it serves as a very solid continuation of the tale for readers who have been following the adventures of Gabriel (The Red Knight) in Cameron’s sprawling alternate historical Europe. The nation of Alba is facing a number of terrifying enemies (and potential allies), including monarchs of other kingdoms and dragons capable of taking on human form. Even in this tense part of the story, there’s still time for digressions that help with the already-solid worldbuilding; a sequence involving a ship caught in a battle between whales and sea serpents is particularly effective, as is the 30-page prologue, which could almost stand on its own as an effective horror story about ancient evil creatures and demonic possession. The core story of Gabriel’s quest keeps the pages turning, and Cameron’s attention to martial detail generally avoids crossing the line into pedantry. The clever dialogue (“She can hardly be the only woman who has tried to kill you.” “She’s the only one who proposed marriage later”) will entertain readers and get them excited for the next book. (Nov.)