What’s it about?
Clay Cooper used to be a member of the most famous mercenary band in all of Gradual – Saga. However, the band has been disbanded long ago and the warriors have grown old and rusty. But now Gabriel needs Saga to be united again: his daughter is trapped in Castia, a city besieged by a Heartwyld Horde and only Saga would be brave (and stupid) enough to try and break the siege.
What I think about it
Kings of the Wyld is – next to The Disasters by M.K. England – the strongest contender to become my favourite book so far this year and here’s why.
If you are sensitive to swearing you might not want to read neither this post nor the book itself. Just saying.
At first I was worried I had wasted money on a typical macho-dude-hero-saves-the-world-while-women-gotta-stay-at-home fantasy book. In the beginning Clay says he doesn’t want his daughter Tally to pick up a sword and says Gabriel shouldn’t have taught his daughter Rose how to use it. I misinterpreted this as ‘women should not fight’ while instead it was ‘MY CHILDREN WILL BE FUCKING SAFE AND WILL NOT LEARN HOW TO USE WEAPONS’. Fair enough, I’d say. And there are women warriors and they are treated the same as male heroes. ❤
Rose, Gabe’s daughter is also a mercenary and goes by the name of ‘Bloody Rose’. She is super badass and has her own novel called – surprise, surprise – Bloody Rose. I am not sure yet if I want to read it because Kings of the Wyld had such a lovely, well-rounded ending with all the characteristics of a good stand-alone. Then again I’d absolutely love to read about a badass mercenary called Bloody Rose.
Clay obviously says he’s gonna help Gabe get his daughter back (he refuses like thrice at first) and so their journey across the Heartwyld (a forest teeming with monsters and atrocities – fun times!) begins. Along the way they pick up their old bandmates. Before long Clay and Gabe are joined by Moog (crazy, scatterbrain wizard) and Matrick (King of Agria – fending off assassination attempts left and right). I caught myself looking at the cover of the book all the time to see if the descriptions match the people depicted there and I gotta say, I recognized everyone immediately. Each member of Saga even has his weapon of choice and Clay’s lefthandedness was considered. I was in awe because it happens so often that cover and book contradict themselves.
Now, who might be the mysterious man in the back with the massive axe? That’d be Ganelon, the last member to join the gang. I won’t tell you much about him because his background story is too interesting to have spoilt in a review. Ok, so he likes hitting things and when he says he’ll hold a mountain pass against a hundred goblins it’s not boasting, it’s a fact.
Usually I’m very protective of initial constellations of characters and groups and I don’t like changes and additional characters to my groups. It was very likely I’d not like Ganelon as much as the other members of Saga because he only made an appearance almost halfway through the book. But he fits so well into the band that it was as though he’d been there from the beginning. They are best friends, brothers in arms and would probably die for one another and I loved how they didn’t hesitate to tell each other that. Saga used to be the most badass, famous and fucking awesome band out there, tough warriors and still they tell each other that they love the others. Yaaaaas!
The characters are well rounded, realistic, with their own flaws, ambitions, opinions, questions, goals and selfish needs. I loved how they interacted with one another, pissed off a lot of people on the way and even picked up a bard to sing about their adventures. Saga’s bards have a very short life expectancy and it’s kind of a running joke that they manage to get themselves killed all the time.
While the story, if broken down to its very foundations, is nothing new, the way it was written, was amazing! It’s told from Clay’s perspective, a rather pragmatic man with a tendency towards violence he keeps fighting. He also tells the story in a calm, collected way with a good dose of dry humour and a big helping of swearing. Not often enough that it gets boring and washed out but manages to draw a grin or a laugh from the reader every time it happens.
The monstrous wolf was the size of a Kaskar plough horse, and Clay had just begun composing his death scream (he was thinking something high-pitched, sort of a falling from a great height meets I’ve just shat my pants, with a touch of petulant little girl doesn’t get her way thrown in to spice things up) when he heard a deep growling behind him.
Two wargs, his mind told him. You’re gonna need a new scream, Cooper.
This book was a wild ride from start to finish and I have to say I was worried at first that it was grimdark fantasy which I despise. The humour, however, and the amiable characters and the wit made it absolutely enjoyable. It is dark, yes, lots of monsters but it is nowhere near GOT or High Fantasy. It’s undeniably lighter while still gory at times and so much more fun!! It reminded me of Jon Hollins’ ‘Dragon Lords’ which I unfortunately didn’t like as much but if humorous fantasy is your thing you might give it a go.
Absolutely fantastic! Kings of the Wyld is full of action, wit and monsters. Cool, well-rounded characters that you get attached to all too easily. It’s gory at times but never grimdark and there is always hope on the horizon even though it mostly is hidden behind yet another atrocity waiting to tear Saga to pieces. 10/10 would recommend.
- Author: Nicholas Eames
- Pages: 492
- Publisher: Orbit Books
- Release Date: February 2017
- ISBN: 978-0-356-50902-2