Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (The Band # 1)

 If Terry Pratchett decided to write a tale about a bunch of oldies going up in arms against ALL the bloodthirsty monsters you have ever read about, to save one girl and in that process, maybe the world too (A trivial side- benefit of course) all the while tripping on the sounds of Rock for Ages, then it would have sort of ...become Kings of the Wyld. I know it totally doesn't do justice to the genius of
Nicholas Eames - But hey, I so totally loved this book.



Celebrating rock and epic fantasy in a totally inscrutable mash-up that nevertheless turns out to be a runaway platinum jubilee record hit, Nicholas Eames gives us the opening act of The Band - in Kings of the Wyld. This is a rollicking tale of backslapping bromance borne out of the sort of wild road-trip undertaken by a bunch of ageing rockstars, dragging themselves out of retirement for that one last-ditch all-out  effort to revive the glory of old and to experience the unbeatable high of that unadulterated adrenaline-rush of being in the thick of action (literally, like fuck!)

So as far as the story goes - we follow the quiet Clay Cooper living the boring, mundane but a perfectly acceptable life as a guard in a sleepy hamlet of a town. Happily married to the love of his life with a daughter. Retired. But his pretence of a perfect life goes out the window, the moment his best friend Gabe - ex-frontman of his mercenary band, Saga comes crying for his help. To rescue his daughter Rose, stuck behind an impossible enemy line. A city called Castia beyond the dangerous Wylds, on the edge of the civilization where the greatest monsters of the world have all gathered to lay siege. It seems like impossible odds but Saga was the greatest band that ever was. And this was the perfect opportunity to hit the roads back again to go out smoking in that last stupid attempt at becoming legends.
Majority of the story follows the band getting back together – because this in itself, is one hell of a saga. A druid, obsessed with finding a cure for a disease that killed his husband, their in-house rogue who was an artist with his knives and one of the best thieves that was, is reduced to being a cuckolded King suffocating under his responsibilities – and their main warrior, well is incapacitated in his current form – trapped in stone.

Nicholas must have thrown the rule book right out of the window for this one. He hits the strides pretty boldly early up in the book, taking his time to build out the fascinating world that makes rockstars of the fighting mercenaries, complete with touring vehicles ( sky-ships!) booking agents, gladiator arena matches, drunken orgies, glorious songs and fisticuffs in tavern all included. As a reader, I was transported to this bizarre world of monstrous creatures (And this is really where Nicholas’ genius turned from gentle candle-fire to a blazing inferno!) of all shapes and sizes, that push the boundaries of your own imagination. There are two-headed giants, friendly cannibals, an arachnid bar-tender, snake-women just off the top of my head. It’s a wondrous world that makes you pause as you wait to decide the level of danger, fun or wonder.
The reason apart from of course the rib-tickling humour which is both understated and sometimes, so blatantly in-your-face and the well-crafted fight scenes that pepper the narrative, why the book reads really well is of course the relationship between the characters. There is so much history binding all five – their banter, their moments of quiet solitude or their rock-solid loyalty to each other, it just is the secret sauce of the narrative that is so delightful. Each of the five characters are well fleshed out but my favourite, like many others I suspect, is Clay Cooper – who really is the glue that binds the band together. Quiet, thoughtful and displaying copious amounts of cautious fortitude, this here is a man who would lay down his life for his brothers without a question asked but would prefer to keep things alive and kicking. Not given to eloquent speeches, he gets the maximum mileage through just a casual shrug of his shoulders.

Nicholas Eames possibly set out to have fun with this book – and while yes, rocking to the tunes of some of the greatest hits of the world, this book delivers the fun element in spades, for all fans of this genre. Be it the action, or the humor or the mindblowing elements of the worldbuilding or the brilliant characterization. This amazing first book in this series also delves into the more serious aspects of friendship and relationships without being preachy. I just cannot wait for the exploits of Gabe’s daughter Rose now, coming out in April. Rock on!

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