These books were must-reads for me as soon as I saw them! A fantasy series set in a world where mercenary bands are like rockstars? Yes please!
And I really wasn’t disappointed for the most part! I’ve never read anything like this before, and I can’t recommend it enough to other fantasy fans. Check out my reviews for more details!
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
‘Clay pushed his body off him and mumbled another apology – because, enemy or not, when you hit a man in the nuts with a magic hammer the least you could say was sorry.’
Clay Cooper and his band of fellow mercenaries were once a big deal. As the infamous ‘Kings of the Wyld’ they were know as some of the toughest, meanest and most badass fighters this side of the Heartwyld. These days however they’re scattered has-beens…that is until Clay’s ex-bandmate Gabriel turns up at his door begging for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a besieged city, and he needs help rescuing her…it’s time to get the band back together.
This is easily the best book I’ve read in a long time, combining all the things I love so much about the fantasy genre – quests, monsters, epic fights and battles and badass characters – with lashings of irreverence, hilarity and feels. The concept – a fantasy world where mercenary bands are the equivalent of rockstars – just worked, and even more so than that, the characters were amazing.
Clay Cooper as the main character in particular felt like a good choice, as he was very much the grounded Everyman of the group (not in a bad way), and the most relatable character. He simply wants to help out his friend, and then return to a quiet life with his family.
Some of the other characters were a bit more larger-than-life, and it definitely kept things interesting. Moog the wizard was my particular favourite: he was hilariously barmy (you’ve got to love that he went off on an epic quest wearing a onesie!) and had some of the best dialogue in the book. He was also responsible for more of the laugh-out-loud moments of the book than any other character.
I also loved the other members of the band though, from the washed up golden boy Gabriel, to runaway King Matrick and brooding Ganelon. And more than a anything I loved the relationship between the band members – it was one of the most genuine friendships I’ve seen in a book recently, even if they are always ripping into each other. They just have so much history together!
This really was one of the most original and most fun books I’ve read in a long time, and a very refreshing addition to the fantasy genre. As much as I love fantasy, a lot of it can feel a little samey, but not this one! It’s also been quite a while since I’ve genuinely laughed-out-loud at a book, but this one had me constantly chuckling, and even a little teary at points, as it wasn’t short on heart-warming moments. I seriously can’t recommend this book enough to fantasy fans!
Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
‘”Death or glory,” she said. “Death or glory,” they echoed. “But preferably glory.”‘
Her parents might have been legends, but the closest Tam Hashford ever gets to famous mercenary bands is when she serves them at the local tavern. However, when the legendary Bloody Rose and her band come into town she jumps at a chance to join them, and embark on her own quest for glory.
I was so excited to jump back into this world after devouring Kings of the Wyld that I immediately went out and got Bloody Rose from the library. I wasn’t sure about the fact that the original characters were no longer going to be the main focus – Gabriel’s daughter Rose and her band would step into the spotlight – but I couldn’t not give it a go!
Unfortunately, for me, this didn’t quite have the same magic as Kings of the Wyld, but it was still a decent fantasy book, even if the level of humour I’d loved so much in the first book wasn’t there.
I think part of the problem with this one is that I just didn’t connect to the main character of Tam as much as I connected to Clay Cooper. She was also a newbie in the band, which was both a good thing and a bad thing: I like seeing characters step out of their comfort zone and start to make new friends that improve their life, but I also love seeing characters with a long and complex history. Part of the charm of the first book was seeing old friends get back together, but at the same time, I can understand the author not wanting to do the exact same thing as the first book.
The band members were all very different and interesting though, and I particularly liked Freecloud as the grounded centre of the group. Rose,
The world of the book still felt incredibly vibrant, and I loved the whole ‘bands aren’t what they used to be’ vibe of this book, as mercenary bands are tending more to fight monsters in arenas rather than out in the wild. I thought this was an interesting background to the story, and definitely impacted Rose, who has always been in her father’s shadow. I thought her drug problem definitely added another dimension to the story, even if I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rose as a character.
Overall, this was definitely a decent fantasy book, and probably one I would have enjoyed more, had I not just read the first book, which was honestly one of the best books I’ve read in ages. It felt a little different tonally, and whilst I preferred the first book personally, I’ve seen a few people around the internet saying they preferred Bloody Rose. So definitely give this book a try, whether you loved Kings of the Wyld or not! I’d be interested to hear what other people thought.
So have you read Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose? What did you think? Which book did you prefer and who was your favourite character?