Title: Bloody Rose
Author: Nicholas Eames
Publisher: Aug. 2018, Orbit books
Blurb: Live fast, die young.
Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.
When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.
It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.
**The most sincere and utmost thanks to Orbit for the ARC, given in exchange for an honest review**
First off, before I can truly begin this review, I must say hello to an old acquaintance: hey there, Terry. How’s it been, it’s been what, a year since we’ve last chatted? How’s the wife, how’s the kids, how’s–actually, speaking of kids, I just finished the latest novel one of your sons wrote: Nicholas Eames, Bloody Rose. You know the one. I finished it and then texted my boyfriend, saying, “I think it broke me.”
And I mean that as the highest compliment ever.
There is no book, I think, that had higher expectations set upon it than Bloody Rose–for me, at any rate. Kings of the Wyld was my favorite book of last year and, quite honestly, might have risen to be one of my favorite books of all time, if not *the* one. Waiting for this sequel was a wait I was willing to do, no matter how long it took, even though there was nothing I wanted more. Getting a copy from Orbit (and also spawning my relationship with them as one of their reviewers, thanks to this magnificent book and a brave email on my part, asking what I had to sacrifice in order to obtain a copy of this book) a month early was one of the most surreal things to ever happen to me. The willpower I exercised to wait and stay on top of my ARCs for August and not start it until a week ago still blows my mind.
The next text I sent my boyfriend, after reading the epilogue and then the acknowledgement page and then the author bio, trying to make this book last as long as possible, was: Like, I feel numb but warm at the same time. My heart is heavy and it hurts but it also feels whole. And I could easily cry buckets here at any moment.
Fuck, that was a great book.
Let me attempt to explain how Bloody Rose didn’t disappoint, not even a little bit; how it is on par with Kings of the Wyld and, some could argue, might even surpass it. I don’t think I’ll truly do such an explanation justice, because, as you can gather, my emotions are kind of…everywhere, at the moment. Those last one hundred pages seriously took me for a ride and destroyed my emotions, wrecking me in a way that every author wants to wreck their reader, because you know that you made them care. Based on how my heart feels right now, I think caring about these characters is a massive understatement. Page 495 had me stubbornly wiping away tears at my desk at work, struggling to conceal everything I’m trying to hide, how expertly this book ensnared me, destroyed me and then put me back together again.
This book was incredible, fantastic, inspiring, heart-wrenching and completely and utterly perfect.
But it didn’t start out that way.
Oh, at first, I was angry.
Not because the book was poor. It was wonderful! No, I’d argue for, perhaps, the first half of the book, I was nothing but defensive. My loyalty is to Saga (particularly to Clay Slowhand Cooper) and it always will be. It’s unquestionable and unbreakable. So when we are suddenly in the throngs with Fable and the next generation of mercenaries and bands and there are comments being made about how Saga “wasn’t actually that great” or how people have forgotten–fucking forgotten–Clay Cooper, you’d better believe your girl was ready to come to blows with anyone and everyone who dared make such a ridiculous claim, including Bloody Rose herself.
You don’t mess with Clay f-ing Cooper.
Yet, even though I was dealing with seeing Saga in a different light, going back into that world felt like coming home and I didn’t want to leave. Hell, I still don’t. Yet, it also showed the world in a much different light than I was ever used to seeing it; the more realistic one, perhaps. I shared a lot of Tam’s emotions and sentiments regarding the touring, arenas and treatments of the “monsters” the longer she toured with Fable and some of those descriptions and treatments were truly hard to read. It didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the novel at all. In fact, I believe it heightened it, because I felt the world moving forward. Following Fable and seeing how the next generation interacted with the world truly felt like the nice juxtaposition Bloody Rose is to Kings of the Wyld, being sequel yet standalone.
Though my loyalty to Saga will never wane, my love for Fable will also never disappear. I fell in love with them like you do a family, where a wide range of emotions are felt: admiration and adoration for Freecloud; pain on behalf of Cura and an intense desire to protect her, even though she doesn’t need it; an intense love for Brune and a willingness to do anything to help him; a fondness for Tam that I could never shake, as I continually saw myself in her, even though we’re completely different; an annoyance towards Rose as she continued to chase after breaking out of her father’s shadow unrelentingly, yet I’d follow her command no matter what she asked for me.
Fable started out as a band who I was curious to see what all the hype was about and if they could live up to the version I’d created of them in my head, as a curious fan of a past generation of bands. By the end, they became family, despite of and because of unveiling their truths behind their legend. And they became greater for it, in my eyes.
Obviously, the end of the book wrecked me. Without spoiling anything, on multiple occasions, my heart stilled because of what happened, because of what you did (*looks directly at the author*) and every time, I hoped I was wrong, but I knew I was right, even before later chapters confirmed it. Eames wields emotions like magic and I don’t think I can accurately describe how he ensnared me so utterly, as he did–or how he does it, to be honest–but there is no question that, once again, a book by his pen has risen to the top of my favorite books and I’m left waiting for the next installment; one that, truly, I have no idea where it’s going to go, but I am completely ready for the ride, nonetheless.
If you’ve read Kings of the Wyld, then you already have an inkling of what’s in store for you here, in Bloody Rose (but I truly am not sure if your heart is ready for it, because mine sure as hell wasn’t). If you haven’t, stop waiting. You’re missing out on two of the greatest books of our time and why would you delay that any longer than necessary?
Now, if you excuse me, I need to go find some chocolate to nurse this massive book hangover. Lots and lots of chocolate.
Until next year, Terry. Take care.