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.
The Bookish Bro Says
Okay, I’m going to get right to it and say that this is, most probably, the best fantasy debut book I have ever read and Nicholas Eames is an instant, new favorite author! I actually put off reading this book for the longest time because I didn’t know too much about it. I bought Kings of the Wyld mainly because the cover looked kick-ass (I mean, look at the artwork!) and because the synopsis promised me a book that contained a magical fantasy world chock-full of interesting characters that would make me laugh as they went about their adventure. Now that I’ve finally read it, Kings of the Wyld delivered on all those promises and more!
“WHEN WE SEEK TO RULE ONLY OURSELVES, WE ARE EACH OF US KINGS.”
Let me break down what made me fall head-over-heels for this book.
The writing style! I knew the book was high fantasy (because I grabbed it from the High Fantasy / Adult Fantasy bookshelf of FullyBooked) so I expected to encounter the usual HF writing style. To my surprise, it was such an easy read! Nick chose one character (Clay Cooper) and told the story from his point of view. He masterfully used the POV to express the main character’s thoughts and emotions but also to paint the whole story and its many other interesting characters, landscapes, epic battles, and more! If you’re intimidated by the Lord of the Rings’ writing style, then this book is for you! LOL!
The band of characters! It took me a while to get attached to the members of Saga (also known as Kings of the Wyld) but once the band got together (one by one), they were a force to be reckoned with. Their final tour requires them to cross the Heartwyld, the most dangerous place in the land, and nothing brings out the best, worst, and funniest in anyone than a cursed forest full of cannibals, giants, creatures of the dark, and an incurable disease! Each member was distinct and charming in their own way and all of them managed to either have me holding back a laugh or holding back my tears. I won’t get into too many details about the characters because I don’t want to spoil anyone but trust and believe that this group of old-timer mercenaries will have you rooting for them as you follow along on their legendary adventure.
Among them is a renegade king, he who sired five royal heirs without ever unzipping his pants. A man to whom time has imparted great wisdom and an even greater waistline, whose thoughtless courage is rivalled only by his unquenchable thirst.
At his shoulder walks a sorcerer, a cosmic conversationalist. Enemy of the incurable rot, absent chairman of combustive sciences at the university in Oddsford, and the only living soul above the age of eight to believe in owlbears.
Look here at a warrior born, a scion of power and poverty whose purpose is manifold: to shatter shackles, to murder monarchs, and to demonstrate that even the forces of good must sometimes enlist the service of big, bad motherfuckers. His is an ancient soul destined to die young.
And now comes the quiet one, the gentle giant, he who fights his battles with a shield. Stout as the tree that counts its age in aeons, constant as the star that marks true north and shines most brightly on the darkest nights.
A step ahead of these four: our hero. He is the candle burnt down to the stump, the cutting blade grown dull with overuse. But see now the spark in his stride. Behold the glint of steel in his gaze. Who dares to stand between a man such as this and that which he holds dear? He will kill, if he must, to protect it. He will die, if that is what it takes.
“Go get the boss,” says one guardsman to another. “This bunch looks like trouble.”
And they do. They do look like trouble, at least until the wizard trips on the hem of his robe. He stumbles, cursing, and fouls the steps of the others as he falls face-first onto the mud-slick hillside.
The sprinkling of humor and the ability to draw out tears. Right from the get-go you’re told that the book is guaranteed to elicit, at the very least, a smile from its reader. It did more than that for me. I found myself giggling or laughing at some of the events in the book (most of them because of Moog). But what the book didn’t prepare me for was how much it would bring out tears and an occasional sob. Nicholas showed so much heart in his writing, in his characters, and how they interacted with the world around them that I can’t help but be moved while I read the book.
All the Dungeons and Dragons terms/elements! For those of you who don’t know, I went through a DnD phase in my life a few years back. I would play the game with my friends well into the night and (most of the time) early into the morning. I’ve missed the game very much so it was such a welcome surprise to find mentions of owlbears, bards, ettins, sorcerers, and bugbears. If you’re a DnD player, then I highly recommend you drop everything and READ. THIS. BOOK!
I give this a WOW rating. A special rating by the bookish bro for books that exceed five out of five stars! I don’t know what else to tell you, it’s a perfect read for someone like me. It ticked all the appropriate boxes and made my heart swell with countless emotions. I couldn’t ask for more. The book is part of a series but stands perfectly well on its own. I got the great adventure I wanted and an ending that the story deserved.
I’ll miss the gang, but it’s time to move on and finish reading the second book in the series: Bloody Rose.
BONUS: Nicholas Eames did a Q&A with me! If you want to read it, click HERE.
Nicholas Eames was born to parents of infinite patience and unstinting support in Wingham, Ontario. Though he attended college for theatre arts, he gave up acting to pursue the infinitely more attainable profession of “epic fantasy novelist.” Kings of the Wyld is his first novel. Nicholas loves black coffee, neat whiskey, the month of October, and video games. He currently lives in Ontario, Canada, and is very probably writing at this moment.