Blog Archive

View My Stats
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Kings Of The Wyld by Nicholas Eames (Reviewed by D.C. Stewart)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Michael W. Everest's interview with Nicholas Eames

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: A retired group of legendary warriors must get the band back together for one last seemingly impossible mission in this rousing debut epic fantasy.

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.

FORMAT INFO: Kings Of The Wyld is 502 pages long divided over fifty-three named and numbered chapters with an epilogue. Narration is in the third person via Clay Cooper, the tank of a five-man mercenary band. This is the first novel in The Band series.

Kings Of The Wyld is available in trade paperback format, as well as e-book and audio versions. Cover design is by Lisa Marie Pompilo, with cover illustration by Richard Anderson.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: As if the fantasy genre and heavy metal weren’t connected enough, along comes Nicholas Eames to tighten the leather straps and forever marry two oddly similar forms of entertainment in Kings Of The Wyld, the first in a series that thrums like a Jimmy Page riff in a genre full of entry-level chord practice. What’s intriguing about Kings of the Wyld is that despite its hook, that mercenary bands are the rock stars of Eames’ imaginary world, the story is simple. You have probably read the plot of Kings a dozen times over if you have any fantasy novels under your belt. Eames proves with this debut that a song can be played over and over but never lose its appeal if sung right.

Eames' world in Kings Of The Wyld is the stuff of great Dungeons and Dragons adventures. The focal point of the land is a place called the Heartwyld, a dense, primordial forest full of snarks and grumpkins and every other nightmare trope of the fantasy genre. Bands make their fortunes by entering the Heartwyld, slaying or capturing said monsters and then gleaning all the fame and fortune that comes to them upon re-entry into civilization. Grand parades are thrown and money showered upon these mercs, who all bear the heavy metal names so common to the hair bands of our own 1980s.

The world-building has more depth than is probably needed but is better off for its scope. Eames’ world was once ruled by an alien race called the druins, who cleaved their way from another dimension with a special sword and founded what would be the grandest empire that the world had ever seen. Then, like humans do, humans eventually killed most of the druins. The Heartwyld is what is left of druin power, and thus becomes a focal point for the Kings’ adventure to both rescue a maiden and stop a rising druin power.

When I said you had likely read the plot of Kings Of the Wyld before, I meant it. It’s the classic save the princess story, only the princess is the hero’s daughter, and the hero isn’t the hero but the hero’s best friend who the hero is helping because he too has a daughter and…well it’s complicated but explained well within the context of the story. The Band’s adventure takes them from battle arenas to horror forests to snowy mountain tops and even on an airship. It’s like playing a Final Fantasy game set in The Forgotten Realms, and it works. It works so well that it’s hard to find fault with the simplistic nature of the tale. And why should we? Just because something has been done doesn’t mean it shouldn’t again be attempted.

Alongside what should have been a simple jaunt to rescue the princess, the Band must deal with a druin plot to take over the world, a side quest if you will, and slay lots and lots of monsters. These threads weave in and out of one another and are largely inextricable. [vague spoilers ahead] My only real complaint with the storytelling is the lack of real consequence for the Band. Every one of the characters seem to wear heavy, un-pierceable plot armor, and while I am not asking for main characters to be crossed off one after another in George R.R. Martin-like fashion, I never once felt that the Band was in any danger, and even when something grim did happen to one or more of them, they just had to find some kind of healing spell and all was made right. One could argue that there were character deaths, but those deaths felt more like mercy killings than character loss. To make a reader feel something approaching personal tragedy at the death of a character, that character must have a long build-up, like the members of the Band themselves received. Introducing someone and then a few chapters later tossing them off the page does not leave a deep enough impression for me to care, even if the character does happen to be delightful.

The titular mercenary group, The Kings of the Wyld, are the reason to read Eames' debut. Clay Cooper, Golden Gabriel, Matrick the King/Rogue, Moog the Erectile Dysfunction-curing wizard, Ganelon (who kills real good), and the rest of the rogue’s gallery of allies and villains that the band meets on its adventure come alive on the page in the way that the best literature does. Clay is the main character, an aging tank who begins the novel working guard duty at a tower in some backwater town. The band is retired, its members scattered, and it isn’t until Gabriel comes calling with a plea for help to rescue his daughter that the band gets back together. Matrick joins next, a rogue turned king turned fat cuckold, followed by Moog, a wizard who has lost more than his marbles. Ganelon, the ax-wielding murderer, joins last, and watching the five warriors work together is as fun as any fantasy I have read. Eames does a nice job making all the characters interact and play off one another without it feeling contrived or heavy-handed. He also writes a hell of a fight scene.

Add to the list a sultry, winged assassin, a two-headed cyclops that exudes more charm and gentleness than any character has a right to, and both rival and friendly bands, and there is hardly a character in the book that doesn’t sing. I am eager to see what Eames does in his next entry, which features not the Kings but a different set of characters who show up near the end of Kings. I think with his talent for characterization and a more serious plot, Eames might have a chart-buster coming.

CONCLUSION: I cannot recommend Kings Of The Wyld enough, even at the risk of hyping up an already hyped-up fantasy hit. There is something so refreshing about this book; a story that doesn’t pretend to be more than it is but then burrows in to a reader and feels both comforting and adventurous. I won’t forget Clay Cooper, the backbone and heart of the Kings Of The Wyld, and while I respect Eames’ desire to tell a new story with new characters, that old shield-bearing veteran will retain a special place in my fantasy-laden heart. And who knows, maybe we will get an encore?

0 comments:

Follow by Email

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Demon of Destruction” by M. R. Mathias!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Infernal Machines” by John H. Jacobs!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Skullsworn” by Brian Staveley!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “A Game Of Ghosts” by John Connolly!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Queen Of Swords” by R. S. Belcher!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “A Dragon Of A Different Color” by Rachel Aaron!!!
Order HERE