Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Review Jun 06, 2020

As individuals they were each of them fallible, discordant as notes without harmony. But as a band they were something more, something perfect in its own intangible way.

In Eames' world mercenary bands are the equivalent of the biggest rock bands of the 60s and 70s. Each band has a cool name, a signature attack move and buckets of f**k you attitude. I like classic rock as much as the next girl and even if I didn't pick up on all the pop culture references, I still LOVED this book. If you like fantasy, dark comedy and characters that kick ass then this one is for you.

The Blurb:

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best the most feared and renowned 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 - 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!

The story follows Clay as he travels the land trying to reunite the disparate members of the band: Moog, an absent-minded wizard; Matrick, a cuckolded king held prisoner by his own wife; and Ganelon, a deadly warrior who has spent the decades since Saga disbanded encased in stone. Though this only the start of their long hard road back to glory and, unsurprisingly, times have changed and their time in retirement has left them with little cardio!

What I Loved

The Emotional Roller-coaster

Sometimes my face hurt  from smiling so damn much, other times I felt desperately sad, I laughed out loud and felt moments of genuine anxiety. Somehow Eames managed to combine silly puns, filthy jokes and poignant misery, if you, like me enjoy dark humour then this is one for you.

The very squishy magic

I surprised myself with this one as a big fan of Sanderson's first law, however the magic in this book is perfect for the story. Like the rock and roll scene that inspires it, the magic system is unreliable, crazy and downright weird. It doesn't follow and rules, there are a myriad of monsters, wizards, enchanted weapons and flying machines. This book busted at the seams with creativity and this kept me on my toes throughout - I had no idea how it was going to end (f**k the typical fantasy rulebook). Also as a D & D player, this book reminded me of the RPG madness that occurs that often ensues when a bunch of OP characters rock up to the local tavern.

The inverted and twisted tropes

As a longtime fantasy reader I pride myself on being able to spot a trope at 100+ paces (way before the [pot boy][farm boy][slave girl] [meets the mysterious old man][finds out they are the heir to the throne][becomes the chosen one]). This book was full of tropes, but in the best possible way - Eames was obviously hyper aware of the fantasy staples and cleverly turned each on its head / poked fun at it. It was hilarious.

What fell flat

The overarching mission

If I must come up with a criticism, I perhaps didn't care as much as I should have done about the 'baddie' of the book and the Band's mission objective to rescue Gabe's rebellious teenage daughter. With all the black humour, fantastical characters and goings on throughout, I almost felt that the plot that this all hung on had been put together as an afterthought. That said, I still hugely enjoyed it and felt satisfied with the story and characters at the end of the Saga (see what I did there?).


READ THIS BOOK. It is awesome.

AND top tip, which I wish I had know about when reading - Eames has put together a Kings of the Wyld playlist and on his website matches the songs to the chapters of the book. The man is a genius. Here is the link to his site:

Kady H

Fan of epic worldbuilding, clever comedy, hard magic systems and fast paced action.