Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1)
By Nicholas Eames
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.
First of all, I want to extend a huge thank you to Orbit publishing who provided me with this copy in exchange for an honest review. <- I normally save that bit for the end, but it is well deserved and my enthusiasm is hardly containable as I attempt to share my thoughts with you on what has been on of my greatest reading experiences this year.
Clay Cooper is a quiet and settled man who now lives a contempt life with his wife and daughter in a small town. But “Slowhand” was not always your settling type. Once he belonged to a band known as Saga. Once he was part of one the toughest, craziest, and rowdiest group of mercenaries known to man. But that was once..
Until Gabe, a former band-mate arrives at his doorstep broken and desperate. The is a war raging as a vicious horde descend upon Castia. Plague and death ravage the land and Gabe’s daughter Rose, now a mercenary, is trapped within the city awaiting certain death. Only a fool would go, which means there is only one answer: the band is getting back together!
“People think the world has already been saved, that we don’t need mercenaries anymore. They say heroes are a dying breed!”
They haven’t met Saga, Kings of the Wyld. The fact that this is a debut novel is almost downright unbelievable. You will find nothing within these pages to convince you otherwise. Because once you open Kings of the Wyld, you embark on an adventure of grand proportions that can only leave you wanting more. I won’t hesitate to label this one of my new top five favorites. It is completely unlike anything I have ever encountered and yet so very much like everything I have come to love. If you are seeking the best of character creation, world construction and epic storytelling, let me introduce you.
Clay Cooper is the perfect collection of all ingredients one must use when creating the perfect anti-hero. He has an insane past that he is trying keep exactly there, in the past. He’s loyal, incredibly strong and at tad crazy. He also happens to be an enormous bear of a man who has unwavering heart that matches his size. And he kills shit.
“The truth, he knew, was that the world needed his kind of monster. It was a brutal place. It was unfair. And Clay Cooper, such as he was, was quite simply the right kind of wrong.”
“Golden” Gabe was once the leader of the band, but these days he is less than golden and a bit old. His wife has left him for their former booker, and his only daughter has run off to be a mercenary. Driven by sheer, unmitigated will alone, he must rely on the boys to help him resurrect their glory days in effort to save Rose.
Arcandius Moog is forever in search of a cure for The Rot while peddling his all so magical and life altering Magnificent Phallic Phylactery. Always comical and often questionable, he never fails to pull a trick or two out of the hat when the situation arises.
Matrick, King of Agria once a thieving member of the band has inherited more than a castle. He is now the proud owner of an adulteress wife and someone’s kids? along with some extra weight and a bad drinking problem.
“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.”
Ganelon was the very reason the band fell apart. Once the deadliest and fiercest southerner of them all, everything hinges on his willingness to return to the very group that abandoned him.
Kings of the Wyld is a nonstop riot of a ride that feels like an epidemic collision of high fantasy, pop culture and facetious wit. I found myself instantaneously committed to Saga and their quest. There is a well-balanced blend of character depth and world building happening that manages to fully engage the reader from all angles. It is a refreshingly clever play on some familiar tropes and nice array of fantastical creatures both familiar and new. At times I could even sense elements of the author’s appreciation for gaming seeping through.
“’Something tells me the cake was a lie,’ grumbled Matrick.”
From a trek across dangerous lands to a massive final battle intermingled with unyielding humor, this felt like GRRM plowing into Terry Practhett at a ridiculously fast pace. Nonstop entertainment in a rare and beautiful form, this book will tackle and capture the heart of fantasy and adventure lovers alike. Be prepared to traverse the Heartwyld with the most rambunctious collection of characters known to man and find yourself loving every minute of it.