Book Review: Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames (published by Orbit)
This is a fun fantasy full of action, rock and roll references, humour and LOTS of strange, bloodthirsty creatures. Kings of the Wyld tells the story of an old mercenary band who reform nineteen years after they disbanded to save the daughter of one of the band members. She set off to start a band of her own, only to be caught in a siege by a great, angry horde of aforementioned creatures.
Gabriel, whose daughter Rose is trapped, is the frontman of the band, Saga, otherwise known as Kings of the Wyld. His first port of call is to his close friend and ex-bandmate Clay Cooper, and the story is told from Clay’s point of view. Clay, now with a family, is reluctant to go, but eventually Gabriel persuades him and they set off to get the other members on board. One of whom is a wizard, called Moog.
Once reformed, they must set off across the Heartwyld forest to get to where Rose is holed up, avoiding certain people from their past, bounty hunters, as well as monsters of every shape and size.
Clay is a pragmatic and funny narrator and I particularly liked the clever and slightly nuts wizard Moog. Each band member has a well-constructed and believable back story, although I wasn’t quite on board with Matrick and I wanted to know more about Ganelon. Also, the bad guys were interesting – the winged female bounty hunter Larkspur was a great character, and I loved the evil druin’s rabbit ears. But not all the creatures are evil, and I now want an owlbear for a pet!
The action rushes along at a fast pace. The first third of this book is the band reforming, then the journey across the wild forests and eventually arriving in the besieged city of Castia. There’s plenty of taverns along the way and a turn in one of the new fancy arenas, where all the new bands are ‘playing’.
The worldbuilding is solid, deftly brought to life through the non-stop action. There is a sense that this book is touching on a parody because there are plenty of clichés (like the wizard and his magic bag) but that is what made this book a great read for me. It’s not taking itself too seriously and is pure entertainment, rather than requiring a reader to think too hard or deeply.
I did find a couple of plotlines to be repetitive and therefore predictable which dampened my enjoyment slightly, and I felt that the ending at Castia was over in a bit of a rush. But otherwise this is a hilarious, whirlwind of a novel which made me laugh out loud in places, which is a rare feat!
My rating: 4/5
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