Kings of the Wyld,
Kings of the Wyld is the debut novel from Nicholas Eames, and it follows Clay Cooper, a retired mercenary, who was content to settle down and live out his old age in peace until his old band-mate shows up with a desperate plea for help that he just can’t refuse.
“Golden” Gabe, the front-man of Clay’s old mercenary band, Saga, had settled down too. Found a wife, had a daughter – Rose -… only now that daughter is all grown up and in a great deal of trouble. The way she’s described, Rose sounds like the character you would play in a fantasy RPG – uncommonly good at sword fighting for a small town girl, raised on stories of a famous mercenary father; cuts her teeth in sparring matches; rids the town of a cattle-rustling Cyclops squatting near by and a few nests of giant spiders, then marches off to war and glory.
Except the war didn’t go so well. Rose is trapped in a city under siege and her famous mercenary father, now old and somewhat worse for his years on the sidelines, wants to get her back. To do so, he needs to enlist the help of some old friends and comrades-in-arms. Naturally this novel brought to mind RED – the humour is more in line with the film version than the graphic novel – and Blues Brothers, but it really is its own monster.
Eames’ sense of humour is part of what makes this book so enjoyable, but at times I did find it a little too self aware for my tastes. While I enjoyed the puns and nods to nerd culture and pop culture alike, it made it difficult to get too invested in the story. And actually, I was in real danger of getting invested. These are some really likeable rogues that Eames has put together and, though often absurd to picture, the scenarios he puts them through often pluck at the heartstrings too. Though if Eames perhaps goes a little easy on his heroes at times, lending Clay a hand when necessary, I can certainly forgive him for that.
All in all, I had a brilliant time reading this book. Kings of the Wyld is escapism of my favourite type – noble quests, edge of the seat action and well-rounded, likeable characters that carve out their own unique definition of “family”. If you like your fantasy gritty and your humour dark then this is the next book for you.