Kings of the Wyld – Nicholas Eames

About the Book


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.

544 pages (paperback)
Published on February 21, 2017
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When Kings of the Wyld showed up, I was interested. What captivated me about this book first was the fact that this very much seemed like a book that toys with the idea of what happens after these hardcore adventurers hit their prime. That’s not something that isn’t really something that I see very often in novels. Yes, there are a few grimdark books I can think of that have protagonists that aren’t quite young, but very few of them deal with what happens to these guys/gals after they retire, live a slower, quieter life.

So I was interested in that angle, and I was rather excited that Eames decided to have some time tested characters with a vivid, notorious past who have slowed down and spread out in their time apart. Then I started to read the book, and the humor just sucked me in. Basically right here you have a book that smashes together humor, and characters with a rich, entertaining past, and it worked. It really, really worked.

I pretty much devoured this book. Grimdark is a (sub)genre that really takes some concentrated effort to suck me in these days. It’s not that it’s a bad genre, I just get kind of burnt out on it. Instantly I was aware of the fact that Kings of the Wyld is going to be a brand new take on things, and that brand new take worked.

I’m kind of a sucker for wry, sarcastic, slightly dark, self-depreciating humor, and this book has it in spades. This book gets rolling pretty fast, but as I mentioned above, it doesn’t really start out the way that I expect books of this stripe to start. The characters are older. Their glory days are behind them, and their adventures are remembered by many. They are older now, and they have all moved on, married (or not), had children (or not), and found other jobs/ways of living.

Clay Cooper, the protagonist, has a daughter, a wife, a comfortable life, and works as a guard in the town he lives in, when he is approached about a problem that someone else in his once-group approaches him and asks for Clay’s help for his daughter Rose, who has found herself in some trouble.

Eventually the band gets back together, and onto another adventure they go. Age has had its way with all of them, and when they get together, the dialogue really flies and its absolutely fantastic.

However, this novel isn’t all laughs and humor. Kings of the Wyld balances things out nicely with some deeper examinations of monsters (the literal kind and the figurative kind) and how people treat those monsters, of both the figurative and the literal strip. It also explores relationships and love, and how bonds can stretch and change with time.

The world is fantastic. This book felt pretty character driven to me, but the world is just as nicely fleshed out as the larger than life characters. The magic system is well done, and I absolutely loved all of the fantasy creatures that manage to make their way into the book either by mentions or actual personal experiences with said creatures. It manages to blend the campy elements of traditional fantasy with the unique spin on fantasy and grimdark that carries Eames personal brand.

There is an undertone of darkness that hides behind all of the humor and fun in this novel, and I really ended up enjoying that aspect of the book quite a bit. Eames doesn’t shy away from darkness, whether it is in the form of emotions, personal experiences, or events.

Kings of the Wyld is a novel that really surprised me. It’s rollicking fun, with unforgettable characters, and a ton of action, but all of this is balanced by a dark undertone. In fact, this book is nearly perfectly balanced, blending an entertaining adventure with deeper thoughts on monsters (both figurative and literal), and relationships.

Kings of the Wyld was fantastic. It was a lot of fun, and left its mark on me. Eames is an author that has the potential to set genre trends with this book. This book is a breath of fresh air.


4/5 stars


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