Kings of the Wyld: Getting the band back together

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Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames epic fantasy book reviewsKings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames fantasy book reviewsKings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

When Clay Cooper returns home from work to find his old friend, Gabriel, waiting on him, he knows something is wrong. He learns that Gabe’s headstrong daughter has run off to be a mercenary and ended up in a city besieged by an overwhelming horde of monsters. Gabe is now desperate to get their “band,” Saga, back together and go save her. Saga used to be the most famous mercenary band ever. Tales of Slowhand Clay, Golden Gabe, Arcandius Moog, Matrick Skulldrummer, and Ganelon are still told in the pubs throughout the kingdom to this day.

However, that was many years ago, and they’re no longer the young men they used to be. Clay, in particular, has happily retired to a quiet life in the country with his wife and daughter. So, with great reluctance Clay turns his best friend down. But later, when Clay’s nine-year daughter, Tally, asks,”…But you would come if it was me, right Daddy? If I was trapped by bad guys far away? You would come and save me?” thus Saga’s reunion tour begins.

Nicholas Eames asked, “What if Dungeon & Dragon adventurers were like rock bands?” And his answer is: Kings of the Wyld. Saga were real mercenaries, from back when fortune and glory was earned on the battlefield. Nowadays, with the wars are all won and the monsters beaten back, the young badass-wanna-be’s just tour arenas as gladiators or take the occasional gig of handling insignificant incursions from the cursed Heartwyld forest.

The premise alone is enough to sell most sword & sorcery or grimdark nerds — especially the ones with an inclination for head-banging. Kings of the Wyld also has enough combat, mystical creatures, wizardry and/or deviltry, to push the boundaries of polite company. Plus, there are many laugh out-loud moments too — think Joe Abercrombie-Lite, but not too light. Then Eames has to go and mess with his readers’ emotions. If you have a tendency to get attached to fictional characters, prepare to fall in love and have your heart broken by these people — and even a creature or two, but if you’re a cynical old bastard like me … prepare to fall in love and have your heart broken by these people — and even a creature or two.

Personally, Eames had me at the conversation between Clay and his daughter. I know firsthand that there is nothing that a father won’t attempt in order to avoid disappointing his little girl, even if it means risking his life for a friend’s child. Eames proves in Kings of the Wyld that he gets that. He has a deep understanding of human nature and he knows how to exploit it for great storytelling. For my money, that’s what separates the great writers from the good ones.

Published February 21, 2017. GLORY NEVER GETS OLD. 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.

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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2 comments

  1. This sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for putting it on my radar!

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