Book Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

kings-of-the-wyldKings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Band

Publisher: Orbit (February 21, 2017)

Length: 544 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Humor can be a tricky beast, as I often say. What works for one reader might not work for another, and what works one day might not work the next. Picking up something labeled “fantasy humor” is therefore always something of a crapshoot because I never know how it’s going to play out, and unfortunately the last couple of years have seen more misses than hits. When I started Kings of the Wyld though, I had a feeling it was going to be special, and I’m glad that my instincts didn’t steer me wrong.

This book has it all: gritty anti-heroes and twisted villains, epic battles and heart-stopping fight scenes, exotic locales and all manner of fantastical creatures. If this sounds like your kind of story, then you’re in for a treat. Nicholas Eames has reworked the classic quest narrative and presented it to us in a fun and refreshing package. You might even find yourself laughing out loud along the way.

Kings of the Wyld follows a motley crew of aging yet charming mercenaries as they reunite to rescue a bandmate’s daughter trapped behind the walls of a city under siege. After years of questing and brawling, Clay Cooper is ready put his past behind him. He’s married now with a young child, and he’s looking forward to retiring to a life of quiet and leisure. Fate, however, has different plans. One day, his old bandmate Gabe shows up with a desperate request for help. It seems Gabe’s daughter Rose has run off and gotten herself into trouble again, only this time it’s a matter of life and death.

At first, Clay is reluctant to get involved. He has his own fledgling family to think of now; no longer can he drop everything to traipse across the world on dangerous missions. But seeing Gabe’s distress, and recalling all the good times he’s had with his friend, he finally relents. Leaving the comfort of home behind, Clay joins Gabe to round up the members of Saga, their old band. This includes Matrick, their resident rogue who is now a drunken cuckolded king; Arcandius Moog, a wizard who has turned to a life of research trying to find a cure for a deadly disease; Ganelon, who has spent the last nineteen years trapped in his own private prison; and along the way, they even meet a Daeva named Larkspur who is in fact more foe than ally.

What follows is an entertaining, brilliantly crafted adventure that takes us across the Wyld by land and by air. If you’re a fan of video games or tabletop RPGs, you’ll feel right at home in this world with these characters who feel like they’ve stepped right out of a D&D campaign. Kings of the Wyld reads like a loving tribute to these types of classic narratives, while giving it heart—which I feel is the secret ingredient that sets this one apart. Somehow, Eames made it possible and even easy for me to relate to this band of mostly drunk, fat and jaded old men by turning their faults into endearing traits. These are genuine characters who have very real hopes and dreams, as well as values and principles that are important to them. After all, the entire premise of this story is driven by Gabe’s love for his daughter, and also by Clay’s loyalty to his old friend. You’ll fall in love with the members of Saga and want to cheer them on every step of the way.

And of course, humor is another huge selling point. Kings of the Wyld is a fantasy novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and there are elements in it that are unabashedly tongue-in-cheek. The author might have taken a gamble on the style, but in the end I think it paid off. Still, one of the more common criticisms I’ve seen when it comes to fantasy comedy is the use of modern language, slang, or pop culture references. Personally, it doesn’t bother me when it’s second world fantasy, but if such anachronisms aren’t your cup of tea, then you might find it problematic. For me though, what matters more is the tone of humor; I prefer my comedy on the subtler side (as opposed to more overt styles, like slapstick) and this is where Eames struck the perfect balance. Without going overboard, he kept the story light and entertaining while still adhering to epic fantasy traditions.

From the first page to the last, Kings of the Wyld is a rollicking fast-paced novel with just the right amount of grit and wit. Nicholas Eames is definitely on to something here with his impressive debut. Bottom line, read this book if you’re a fan of good old-fashioned quest adventure narratives, epecially if you think you might enjoy one as seen through a modern humorous lens. I’ve tried a lot of books that match this description in recent years, and I have to say this is the best. Already I find myself craving the sequel.

4-stars

Mogsy 2

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32 Comments on “Book Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

  1. Humor, quest, adventure, this book is on my waitlist forever! Couldn’t find a pre-order option in India :(. Your review is going to keep me sane till I get my hands on the actual thing.

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      • Importing books can be very expensive. Amazon will bring it here few days after US and EU. That’s how it is with movies too. :). Meanwhile, enjoying all of your awesome reviews.

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  2. I love this book too. (Although Feb/March are not good reading months for me, way too much going on and I’m still reading it) I’m super impressed by his humor, it’s my kind exactly. And I don’t say that very often. Most humor falls flat for me, but this guy is making me laugh out loud!

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  3. Great review – glad you enjoyed it! You’re right, the humor was fantastic and the adventure suitably over-the-top, but heart was certainly the secret ingredient.

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  4. When I heard about this one, I immediately thought, “That sounds like Mogsy’s kind of book,” haha. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

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  5. You know what your review of this book made me think of? The 2010 movie “Red”, the one about the retired spies who get together to “save the world” once again 🙂
    From your words, I believe this book will be in the same style and mood, and I might quite enjoy it. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I didn’t realize this has so much humor in it. That’s nice, and I LOVE the idea of aging mercenaries having to come back. I generally like my humor subtle too, not the slapstick variety, but I might take a chance on this one. I think you talked me into it! 🙂

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    • I hear ya about the humor – I’m so particular about my comedy. I just can’t do over-the-top slapstick or juvenile humor, it just wears on me after a while. Eames’ humor on the other hand is mature, subtle, and well balanced. I think you might really enjoy this 🙂

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  7. This has been receiving such great reviews that I feel I must add it to my tbr. The thing is – I love The Grey Bastards so much that I’ve got a grimdark hangover at the moment.
    Lynn 😀

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  8. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  9. I am definitely sold on this one. I’ve gotten to where I’m disappointed if a book doesn’t have humor, and I think grittier, grim-darky books are perfect actually to include the laughs. It helps either flat out, provides relief from the grim, or fleshes it out and makes the story more poignant and for me, more enjoyable.

    Great review!

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  10. Pingback: Best of 2017: Notable Debuts | The BiblioSanctum

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