As pleasant as it was to read The Red Knight for its unabashed love of romance and chivalry, it is even more pleasant to read a fictionalization of Byzantium that manages to convey not only its well-documented political machinations, but also its love of spectacle and beauty. The Liviapolis of The Fell Sword is just fun to be in, and the people inhabiting it–all the many races, from pseudo-Scandinavians to Tatars–are pleasant companions, even when they’re seriously messed up.
The only thing I’d add to my review of The Red Knight is something I should have mentioned in that review. Obviously, since this is a fantasy book, there needs to be some sort of a magical system. Cameron’s choice of Hermeticism as “the medieval magical system par excellence” is also understandable. But I cringe more than a little every time traditional Christianity–especially miracles and prayer–is equated with Hermeticism and magic.
It’s not simply that magic has nothing to do with miracles. It’s a question of how a medieval person viewed the power of God. Did the medieval Christian have a “magical” view of Christianity? Were miracles simply considered the dispensing of mystical power by adepts? That’s a subject I know very little about, and would like to know more.
In some sense, that is the only real problem I have with this series. It’s obviously fantasy, but it’s so accurately historical in its details and descriptions, that the unusual portrayal of medieval Christianity as a “magic system” is distracting at best, and problematic at worst.
Still, it’s a rollicking good time.