Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Golden Gabe’s daughter has run int battle and is trapped in a besieged city. His only hope to save her, is getting his band (read group of mercenaries) back together.
Clay “Slow Hand” Cooper leaves his family and home to help his friend out. Together, they must steal back the magical sword Velacor, kidnap a cuckolded king, and turn a stone statue back into a man. All the while, a horde of demons threaten Gabe’s daughter, a manhunter is on the trail of the kidnapped king, denizens of the Heartwyld forest want to kill them, and their old glory days have brought out old enemies.
My rating: 5 stars
Ever seen the movie Red? Old assassins come out of retirement for a final gig that only they can pull off? Yeah, well, this is the fantasy version, and I love it. Clay, Gabe and the boys hit their prime, raised hell, and got out of the game. They settled down with women and homes of their own. Clay is a city guard, avoiding the bars to avoid tales of the old days. Yet, when they need to, each one of the old men comes together and charges into battle.
The story has a lot of humor to it. This isn’t a fancy polished tale full of the pure glory of these men. Instead, it is full of dark humor like the band’s horrible misfortune with bards and gritty details like the putrid smells of piss puddles outside the tavern. I’m not going to lie, there were times when references to wenching or phalic phylactories made me roll my eyes and want to skip a few words, but I never wanted to skip more than a few words or I might miss something important.
As far as characters go, there wasn’t much of the standard character arcs. No one grew tons wiser during the journey. Clay did not magically find a new goal because we knew from the second chapter that his only goal was to get back home to his wife and that Gabe’s only goal was to find his daughter. There was more typical character development in the side characters than the main ones, yet Clay is my favorite. It is his story after all.
I enjoyed most of the world building as well. There is lots of lawless mercenary camps and men voluntarily throwing themselves into the gladiator pits. The men travel through the typical fantasy environs of forests, cities, and mountain passes. The swords, armor, and other sundries are magical. The standard monsters like trolls, mermen, cyclopes, and wayverns are there, but so are new and interesting beasts. Of course, there are air ships to battle the flying monsters.
Then there is the mixture of fighting mercenaries and bands. They are getting the band together and going on their final tour. They run into their own booker, who gets a cut of band business. Bands have screaming fans and act as headliners in arenas. There is definitely a cheeky feel to some of the comparisons, but I didn’t mind.
I really liked this one. It was a good mix of funny and fun. The characters were wild but believable. The world gave me the old standards I am used to but expanded into new territory. I definitely recommend this one.