I almost put this book straight on the charity shop pile when I opened it and a slip of paper fell out exhorting me to post reviews if I liked it, or to keep my mouth shut if I didn't. After a moment's reflection I decided to believe the latter comment was meant humorously and ploughed on, but it was a risky gambit, in my opinion.
I am, generally, put off by meaty tomes, and this one clocks in at about 500 pages. They tend to be hidden or badly disguised trilogies. I dont like long epic fantasy series. Had my fingers burnt by Robert Jordan and they are still tender.
But, Davies pulled off a neat trick in that she not only got me to read it, but finish it. A rarity. These days I have so much lined up to read that i am unforgiving of books that don't keep hold of me. There were a couple of wobbles along the way, but we got there.
The Red Knight didn't turn over any new ground for me. It was well written, well paced, but a fairly standard fantasy novel; Brave Soldiers and Honourable And Attractive Princes, Troubled Realms, Uncouth Savages, Dark Magic, and Fey Of Dubious Intent. I do not mock. On the rare occasion I write fantasy, I use the same stereotypes, and most fantasy I read these days falls into the same trap. It's the jam in the porridge that makes a fantasy book stand out (see Art of Forgetting by Joanne Hall)
Whilst I applaud sexual equality in general, I found myself not quite able to believe in the universal equal-opportuity policy in the military and the casual way it was passed off made the female soldiers seem male, or homogenised them all to asexuality. Again, I recommend Art of Forgetting.
In fact, the whole military thing was what nearly made me put the book down a couple of times. I have a feeling that Ms Davies may be a practitioner of EMA (European Martial Arts), or someone in her creativity vortex is. I found the military passages over detailed, using many specialist words I wasn't familiar with (and couldn't be bothered to look up). Combat sequences tended to be over-long, and made me think of Military SF or Warhammer. For somebody who is interested in such things, though, a real treasure-trove.
What kept me going through the book, though, was the secondary characters, and the secondary interactions of the primary characters. The adventures of Garian Tain were compelling, and
I found hints of Hobbs assassins from the Farseer trilogy. I sensed a hint of Joe Abercrombie's 'Best Served Cold' in the conclusion to The Red Night, dark, sombre and unexpected. Not a bad end, but one you have to think about.
For all the points mentioned above, and enjoyable read, and I thank the author for making it self-contained (even though there are hints there may be more in the same universe).