The Nitty-Gritty Details
Title: Kings of the Wyld
Author: Nicholas Eames
Publisher: Orbit, Feb. 2017
Blurb: Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.
Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.
It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.
First off, before I write anything further, I need to apologize to Terry (Hi there! *waves*), Kings of the Wyld author Nicholas Eames’s dad. He reads these reviews when they pop up and this one…well, it’s going to go a lot of different directions at once, I’m afraid. So, if you want the quick version without attempting to follow my brain through this one, dear readers (and Terry!), here’s a review of Kings of the Wyld in one sentence.
It has been, hands down, the best book I’ve read in 2018.
(I might even be so bold as to say of 2017, too. Top five of 2017, easily.)
Now, if you want to know why, sit back, make some popcorn and try and multitask while you read this review, so you can simultaneously also purchase this book wherever books are sold (or, get it from the library, like I did, which will then result in you turning it back in, only so you can go and purchase a copy to own yourself from wherever books are sold).
So, where do I start?
I had only read the first chapter before falling in love with this book. Like, heads over heels in love with this book.
Perhaps it has something to do with the premise, with taking a band of heroes so amazing, they became legendary, and looking at them now that they are old and tired and had moved on in their separate paths, only to see them come back together again and try to not live up, but I’d daresay surpass, their own legend on a quest to save the daughter of one of their own. That premise alone was just so darn neat and I loved every second of it.
Perhaps it was the characters themselves. Each of the five members of Saga–Clay Slowhand Cooper, Gabriel, Arcandius Moog, Mattrick Skulldrummer and Ganelon–has a distinct personality that makes them very hard not to root for and completely adore. Their friendship is one of the most real things I feel I’ve ever read, which I think is what drew me into the story so much to begin with. I would read books (yes, plural) about Saga’s adventures alone. BOOKS. (Terry, sir, if you do decide to pass this review along to your son, if you wouldn’t mind letting him know there is at least a market of one for every Saga book he can think of, you would have my gratitude). Yet that’s just our main cast. Bring in characters like Jain and the Silk Arrows (man, I loved them), Larkspur (um, talk about badass awesomeness), Kit the Unkillable (yeah, loved him too), The Ettin, Gregor and Dane (I mean, I didn’t really need a heart, so go ahead and break it, please), and the entire crew of the Vanguard…I mean, these characters carried the plot and made this book such a joy to read in every capacity, it floored me.
Perhaps it was the worldbuilding. And let me tell you, what a completely, totally and utterly rich world this is. From the wide range of creatures and horrors that Saga have to face from the really neat progression of culture, i.e., what touring was like when Saga was in full glory compared to how bands are treated and what expectations they have now, there was nothing that drew me out of this book and I was completely convinced it was real. Part of me wishes it was.
Perhaps it was the humor. And goodness me, did I absolutely love the humor within this novel. I was laughing even just pages in and I laughed more than I have in while. I laughed often enough–from giggling to full-annoying-belly-laughs–that my coworkers at work continually asked me what was so funny (or gave me really dirty looks, which I pretended not to notice). I turned to them and asked, “How long do you have?”, but before they could respond, I basically just shoved the books in their faces and told them to read it.
Perhaps it was the heart. Because don’t let the amount of laughter fool you, this book is chalk full of it. For as many times as I suppressed (and failed) a giggle, I felt my heartstrings tug and twist (and occasionally rip), oftentimes with just a single sentence to do me in. It got to the point where I had two chapters left, including the epilogue, and I both didn’t understand how it could end already and I absolutely dreaded the fact it was going to do so, because I was not ready to leave this world. Not ready at all. I came to care about Saga too much to want to leave the world where they existed.
Perhaps it was the mixture of awe and I won’t lie, a little bit of jealousy that I felt, writer to writer. I hadn’t even read half of the book when I was already so enamored, so entranced, that I actually sat back, during my dinner break, in complete awe. Kings of the Wyld is everything I could want in a book. It has everything I want to write within a novel. Yet I don’t believe I could ever write something so fulfilling, so fantastic, as what Eames did here. If writers were placed in bands in reality, I feel like Pip, while Eames is Clay Cooper.
I want to be Clay Cooper.
I guess, when it comes down to it, when asking why Kings of the Wyld has been my favorite book of 2018 to read, saying “everything” would have been a lot simpler (and shorter) to write. Or just shoving a copy of the book in your face and saying, “Read it. See for yourself.”
Personally, I hope you choose the latter option, because this book isn’t a book you don’t want to miss. This is a book you can’t.