Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.
Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.
It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld. (Goodreads synopsis)
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames follows Clay Cooper, was once a member of the most revered bands in all of the Heartwyld. But that was a long time ago, Clay is now old and out of shape. One day when Clay is walking home from his mundane job, he finds Gabe, the former band leader on his porch. Gabe’s daughter has run off and Gabe needs Clay’s help to save her.
This book was in some parts hilarious and ridiculous in others. I think if you go into this book expecting a really serious and intense high fantasy, you won’t like this book. This was a fun romp that takes it back to 80’s “hairband culture” and is full of debauchery and craziness.
The characterization was great. I loved all the members of the band and felt that I really got to know each one. It was interesting to see a fantasy character that wasn’t at their peak. To see a group that had their glory days and has now come out of retirement. Their priorities and motivations are different than a character who is trying to prove themselves. Clay would often complain of his bad back and how it doesn’t feel as fast as he once was. One of the characters has gained weight in his old age and had to confront some of his demons. Another character was gay and he had lost his partner to an incurable disease and made it his life’s work to find a cure. Gabe, the leader, was just a dad trying to overcome his mistakes in fatherhood and save his daughter. I enjoyed the evaluation of these topics because most fantasy characters I read are trying to prove themselves and seeking glory. My favorite character was Jain, who was side character and kind of a running gag throughout the book. She was strong and sassy and so very funny. She absolutely jumped off the page every time and cracked me up. I hope we run into her again in future books.
The world-building was fine but I think since we traveled to so many different areas of the world, I didn’t always get a full picture of the different towns. The Wyld was definitely intriguing and I feel like in subsequent books set in this world, I will get a better understanding of the different areas and the creatures that lurk within it.
One of the major critiques that I hear about this book is the treatment of women. I didn’t find any of it offensive, but I can see how some people would. Not only that, I thought the main women in the story, Rose and Clay’s wife, etc., were all portrayed as very strong characters. I did, however, feel like the book could have been about 100 pages shorter. There was a part in the middle that seemed to drag just a tad bit for me. This often happens in stories where there is a lot of travel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story and the characters. When I picked this up, I had been reading a lot of heavy fantasy, so this was a welcomed break from that. I would recommend this book and I do plan on reading Eames’ next book Bloody Rose that is released in August.
Have you read this book? Is this book on your radar? Let’s chat in the comments.