Kings of the Wyld
By Nicholas Eames
Paperback, 494 pages
Clay Cooper is a retired mercenary who’d like to spend the rest of his days running a cozy little inn with his wife and daughter. When “Golden” Gabe, frontrunner of Clay’s old band, shows up on his doorstep, bedraggled and pleading for help, Clay is torn. Gabe wants to rescue his daughter who is trapped in a castle under siege by a hoard of thousands of monsters. To do so, he needs to reunite the band and cross the The Heartwyld – a massive forest full of creatures of unimaginable horror. It’s a suicidal mission, but if there’s any band to tackle it, it’s the Kings of the Wyld.
This book had me chuckling by page two. Literally. After that, I pretty much never stopped.
Comedic fantasy is my new favorite sub-genre. I had a hunch I would enjoy this book, based on the feedback I’ve seen on Instagram, but I didn’t know how deeply I’d love it or how friggen funny it would be! This book has a lot of sarcasm, swearing and heart.
Washed up up mercs getting together again to save the day is definitely a theme I can get behind. I think having Clay, the reluctant kicker-of-ass and all-around gentle-hearted man as the voice of the story was a smart move. He’s a man of few words but strong feelings and the unofficially (ok, or maybe officialyl) second-in-command. It’s Gabe’s time of need, but it’s Clay who really reunites the band. His weapon of choice is also a shield (made from a giant treant the group killed in the past), which is interesting and says a lot about his character.
This book has badass weapons, crazy creatures (like, every fantasy/mythical beast and then some), mercenaries galore, magic, murder, and a villain with furry bunny ears.
I’m not going to go into the plot – it’s fairly standard fantasy fare. The characters and the world-building are what make this book. And the tone. You know what I’m going to do? I’m just going to bombard you with the funny quotes I highlighted until you agree to read this book.
“Who didn’t enjoy the glassy stare of a severed animal’s head gazing down at them as they ate supper?”
“’Really?’ Gabriel sounded skeptical.
‘Really!’ Matrick said proudly.
‘Really…?’ Moog stroked his chin, intrigued.
‘Really?’ snapped the queen. “I swear by the Summer Lord’s beard, I have laundry maids who talk less than you three.’ She gestured at Clay with a white-gloved hand. ‘Kale, at least, knows when to keep his mouth shut.’
‘It’s Clay, actually.’
Lillith pouted haughtily. ‘And you were doing so well.’”
“…he’d never met a villain (or villainess, in this case) without impeccable taste in wine. It was a prerequisite, he figured, to being rich and evil.”
I know that last one isn’t really a quote, but it’s a great new addition to my swear vocabulary!
This book isn’t all humor though. The boys (ok, old men) of the band all have dark and sometimes sordid pasts. Not to mention the quest they embark on is basically hopeless. There are definitely some heavy hitting chapters in the latter part of the book. Just enough to solidify the characters and story, so they don’t become too farcical.
I’ve only one sin to hit this book with: the accursed line!
“Clay let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding…”
Damnit, Eames! Clay’s too good for that!
All jokes aside, this book is kickass and hilarious with a dash of feels for good measure. Easily one of my favorite books of the year and definitely one of my favorite fantasy novels. Can’t wait for Bloody Rose in August!
Bonus quote if you read this far:
“’You two hit the pool. I’ll have some grub ready when you’ve had time to freshen up a bit.’ When his guests made no move he gestured towards the pond behind them.
Clay glanced over his shoulder and back. He shrugged.
‘The pool,’ said Kallorek pointing. ‘The pool right there.’
‘You mean the pond?’
‘I mean the pool,’ growled the booker. ‘Get in. Swim.’ He accompanied these words with effusive gestures that set his jewellery ringing.
Clay examined the pond. ‘Swim to where?’ he asked.
‘What do you mean swim to where?’ Kallorek’s brow deepened.
‘Is it a healing spring?’ Gabe asked. He flexed his arm, wincing as he extended it fully. ‘Because I think my elbow-‘
‘Listen, fuck your elbow!’ Kallorek blew up. Clay had forgotten how short the booker’s fuse was. That big toothy smile one moment, and the next…’It ain’t a spring, or a pond, or a godsdamned sea nymph’s bathtub. It’s a fucking pool. Just a pool! You swim around in it to relax.’”