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Kings of the Wyld: The Band, Book One Paperback – 28 February 2017
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Manages to be a comedy, an adventure tale, a consideration on growing older, and a sendup of fantasy conventions, all at the same time. It also has heart. In short: it rocks . . . I finished this book in one night. If I could, I'd see the tour, and buy the t-shirt. Instead, I'll have to content myself with waiting for the sequel, and reading it again -- B&N SCI-FI AND FANTASY BLOG
An outstanding debut which will make you laugh and cry and hold your breath. This is a book that has it all -- K. J. Parker
Absolutely awesome. If the Beatles held a concert tomorrow (with all the necromancy required for that to happen), it still wouldn't be as good a 'getting the band back together' story as this. Full of heroes, humor, and heart. -- Jon Hollins, author of DRAGON LORDS: FOOL'S GOLD
It was a fantastic read, a rollicking, page-turning, edge-of-your-seat road-trip of a book. Great characters, loveable rogues that I genuinely cared about and all manner of fantastical monsters. All spiced with a sly sense of humour that had me smiling throughout. Wonderful -- John Gwynne, author of MALICE
A promising, fast-paced debut that balances classic quest fantasy with modern sensibilities and liberal doses of humor. Huzzah! -- Alex Marshall, author of A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER
Kings of the Wyld took me back to my Dungeons and Dragons days. It has well-crafted characters long past their best but still fighting, non-stop fantasy action and welcome touches of humour. Great reading! -- Ian Irvine
Nicholas Eames brings brazen fun and a rock & roll sensibility to the fantasy genre -- Sebastien de Castell, author of TRAITOR'S BLADE
I had a brilliant time reading this book. Kings of the Wyld is escapism of my favourite type - noble quests, edge of the seat action and well-rounded, likeable characters that carve out their own unique definition of "family" -- FORBIDDEN PLANET
Kings of the Wyld is awesome, and quite possibly one of the best debut novels I've ever read . . . This is, without a shadow of a doubt, unmissable -- TINY REVIEWS
An extremely entertaining debut . . .Thoroughly recommended -- SFF WORLD
Joe Abercrombie meets Terry Pratchett, and that is not praise I would give lightly -- FANTASY REVIEW BARN
I only have two questions that remain unanswered - (1) Where do I get my Saga tour t-shirt? (2) When does the second book come out? . . . A highly recommended debut, I can't wait for more -- THE ELOQUENT PAGE
Kings of the Wyld does everything right . . . Nicholas Eames knows how to write and, more importantly, he knows how to pace and structure a novel. He mixes action and humor in equal measure, and weaves genuine emotion into the heroics. It's a fun novel, but one where sorrow and melancholy are always lurking just under the narrative . . . I loved the characters, loved the journey and even loved the climax . . . Kings of the Wyld is a fantastically fun read, from beginning to end, and I am already looking forward to the sequel. -- BEAUTY IN RUINS
Kings of the Wyld is rollicking, explosive fun from cover to cover . . . written with exuberance and elan. Always assured, Eames strikes the same balance as Pratchett at his best, drawing humour from the conventions and tropes of high fantasy while also clearly loving them -- BLUE BOOK BALLOON
This will be one of THE books of 2017. Brilliant, innovative, immersive and just pure fun to read. -- THE BOOK PLANK
There are gladiatorial arenas, aerial battles, pissed off dragons, crazy portal-hopping madcap assassins . . . It is goofy and silly and fast-moving and explodey. And it does all those things well . . . Wyld also works hard to make its characters meaningful - you're not just along for the craaaaazy ride, you actually care about the other passengers -- PORNOKITSCH
I absolutely loved this book -- Anna Stephens, author of GODBLIND
Amid all the airship battles and forest chases there's a vulnerability, a charm born from affection and nostalgia -- SFX, five star review
An entertaining, brilliantly crafted adventure . . . You'll fall in love with the members of Saga and want to cheer them on every step of the way . . . From the first page to the last, Kings of the Wyld is a rollicking fast-paced novel with just the right amount of grit and wit -- BIBLIOSANCTUM
Fantastic . . . Eames is an author that has the potential to set gene trends with this book -- BOOKWORM BLUES
Readers will not be able to put this book down -- BOOKLIST
This is a fast-paced, excellently written and extremely enjoyable fantasy story . . . could very well be the debut of the year -- FANTASY BOOK REVIEW
Kings of the Wyld is, quite simply enormous fun . . . a splendid rollercoaster of the most rollicking kind . . . I adored this book. It's gone immediately onto my Books of 2017 list and I will pester you mercilessly to read it -- ESPRESSO COCO
It's superbly written, full of action, has a really solid plot line that never lets up, some of the most awesome characters I've ever read, and a really well built world full of all kinds of mythological and legendary creatures . . . This book is a hilarious romp from start to finish. I laughed my ass off. What a great debut from Nicholas Eames -- SUPERSTAR DRIFTER
We grow to care so much about these men who once fought for glory, but now do so for each other, and for what is right. There were moments where I cheered, moments where I laughed, or held my baited breath as the book took that roller coaster-like lurch over the hill into a giant set piece battle or brawl. I love these characters, their camaraderie, their sense of duty, their love for one another. I love that I haven't had this much fun reading in a long, long time. . . .You will want this debut. Very. Very. Much. Long live the Kings of the Wyld -- SERIAL BOOKSELLER
Eames' debut was one of the most fun times I've had in a long while, and I honestly cannot wait to see what he's going to write next -- SPECULATIVE HERALD
From a trek across dangerous lands to a massive final battle intermingled with unyielding humor, this felt like GRRM plowing into Terry Practhett at a ridiculously fast pace. Nonstop entertainment in a rare and beautiful form, this book will tackle and capture the heart of fantasy and adventure lovers alike. Be prepared to traverse the Heartwyld with the most rambunctious collection of characters known to man and find yourself loving every minute of it -- BOOKS, VERTIGO AND TEA
This book kicks ass! It's downright funny, adventurous, exciting, touching, heart wrenching, and engaging! . . . Give Kings Of The Wyld a try, just be prepared to set aside all your other books for it! This reader can't wait for more from the author -- RED STAR REVIEWS
Fantastic, funny, ferocious. Hugely recommended. Read it now -- Sam Sykes
Eames cranked it all the way to 11. So f*** it, you know what? 11 out of 10. As the saying goes: They don't make 'em like they used to. But Eames did. And he made it better -- Michael Everest
The best debut I have read in awhile, Nicholas Eames' Kings of the Wyld has everything I love in the fantasy genre with some original twists and angles -- THE QUILL TO LIVE
A cheeky, warm-hearted romp through a D+D monster compendium with a memorable (mostly pensionable) band of mercenaries being pinballed from one crisis to another. Nick delivers a sharp, funny and satisfying page-turner -- Adrian Selby, author of SNAKEWOOD
George R. R. Martin meets Terry Pratchett -- BUZZFEED BOOKS
An absolutely outstanding debut . . . [It has] all the heart and passion that great fantasy can bring in the hands of a master -- Myke Cole, author of THE ARMOURED SAINT
- Publisher : Orbit; 1st edition (28 February 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0356509028
- ISBN-13 : 978-0356509020
- Dimensions : 13 x 3.3 x 19.6 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 22,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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I enjoyed the writing - clever. I enjoyed the characters, mostly - likeable. I sniggered at the humour, though no really laugh out loud moments. I may even read the next - which is a commendation of sorts.
I just didn’t really feel invested. It was almost like it was all too much. It seemed to have every monster imaginable, which made creatures meant to be extraordinary all too ordinary. It seemed to have a plethora of magical items, which made the priceless seem worthless. The plot kept bouncing along, but never seemed to have me invested, or caring about the place or the people who were the reason for the rescue. And the characters were strong, but maybe just too incredible and so never really at risk.
Maybe, I’m just in a funk at the moment, and a reader shouldn’t write a review when in a funk. 3.5 stars.
It's a fun book, with the idea that Mercs get treated like Rock Stars. That they tour "in the wild" or perform in "Arenas", and in a Spinal Tap parody, their bard is always getting killed. There are several villains of differing varieties, and epic battle scenes, funny reminiscing, flying ships, and even a magical Viagra potion. All in all, I'm really looking forward to the next book.
Top reviews from other countries
A quick note: If you are offended by the frequent use of the "F" word and similar, this book is not for you. It comes up a lot in character dialogue. Considering the setting and characters, it does not feel excessive.
Kings of the Wyld presses my buttons on many levels. Let me start by saying I'm 47 and a portion of my youth was spent playing and "dungeon mastering" the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. I have a few minor aches and pains, and I'll never fit in those clothes I wore as a teenager again. This is relevant because...
Kings of the Wyld is about a band (Dungeons and Dragons style adventuring party) of middle-aged overweight and often drunk ex-mercenaries that emerge from what passes as normal retirement to get the band back together.
Their mission - rescue their frontman Gabriel's daughter from inevitable evisceration by almost the entire contents of the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual besieging the city of Castia where she is trapped.
The monstrous ensemble is called the Heartwyld Horde led by the sympathetically tragic Lastleaf - a Druin who seems to be a bit like an elf except with bunny ears. And he rides a Wyvern. I should point out here that this book does not take itself at all seriously except for a few genuinely poignant moments (wipes tear from eye at the memory of the closing scenes). This book has given me so many laughs!
Who are the band?
The hero of this tale is Clay whose inner monster was tamed by a loving wife and a darling daughter. He has long since hung up Blackheart – a wooden shield made out of a Treant – and retired. Then Gabriel comes calling.
Gabriel – divorced father of the damsel in distress and would be wielder of a potent magic sword except that he sold it to the cad now married to his ex-wife.
Then there is the wizard Moog who mourns the loss of his husband to the incurable “rot” disease from which he also suffers. One of the hazards of wandering the Heartwyld. He makes a living as an alchemist selling “Phylactery” which is best described as Viagra in gaseous form. And he lives in a tower that is almost exactly the same shape as a “thingy.” If you wonder what I mean by “thingy” just go back to that Viagra reference and I’m sure you’ll get it. The knocker on the door to his tower is a particularly amusing character named Steve who struggles to speak due to the brass ring in his mouth... and I thought I was cool having a brass dolphin on my front door.
Matrick is the band's drummer, sorry, knife-wielding warrior thief that somehow became King. The Queen has managed to produce 5 heirs to the throne, none of them fathered by Matrick himself and, oh yes, the Queen wants him dead. Extracting him from his former life to reform the band is trickier than you might think…
Lastly, there is Ganelon who is remarkably forgiving of the fact his former bandmates left him in a quarry turned to stone by a Basilisk for 20 years.
Other characters help and hinder them on the way, and I shall always remember the Ettin, Dane and Gregor with fondness. (An Ettin is a two-headed giant in case you’re wondering).
After suffering the indignity of being robbed by a band of girls named the Silk Arrows (twice!), the band’s expedition takes them through the Heartwyld that is still remarkably full of trouble considering so many of its denizens surround Castia for the whole story. The trip is complicated by the fact Matrick’s wife (the Queen) hired a bounty hunter to assassinate him. Is the bounty hunter a shadowy figure in a hooded cloak? Bobba Fett's twin brother? Nope. A bad-ass Daeva - false god nightmare of a winged woman with her own band of red-robed monks held in her thrall all riding in a skyship!
This story is chock full of humour, monsters, magic and magical weaponry, more monsters and touching moments. And touching moments with monsters (some of them wielding magical weaponry). If you’ve ever wished you could read a story with a wondrous variety of monsters all doing their worst, Kings of the Wyld is like a bowl of every flavour ice cream with a chocolate flake stuck in it plus syrup and those little coloured sugar tubes on top (I know them as hundreds and thousands). There are probably some marshmallows jammed in there somewhere too. Pure indulgence.
Of course, none of this would be worth our reading time or the 5th star if it were not woven into a compelling story. Make no mistake; this is not a regurgitated video or role-playing game. As a student of story craft myself, I know a well-structured story when I read one, and they are not found in the fantasy genre often enough. Nicholas Eames knows his stuff – the story twists, turns and pinches in all the places it must to cast its spell over any fantasy fan even if they never played Dungeons and Dragons. It's been a very long time since I last enjoyed reading a book this much. Count me in for the sequels.
If all this were not enough, Kings of the Wyld asks one of life’s most compelling questions. The answer to which the wizard Moog and every child under the age of 8 already knows…
Do owlbears actually exist?
There's one joke, that it's a world where D and D adventure parties are treated like old school rock stars, which runs out of steam by about 20%.
It never fully grasps the comedy nettle. There are a lot of po-faced fantasy tropes served straight, including what should have been a highly parody-able, none more creaky fantasy cod religion.
I like being in on the joke, and once I'd spotted that point of view character Clay lives in a village called Coverdale I realised the book is an Easter egg hunt. There was - ironically - something about rain on a wedding day, and a bit with a bloke selling rats on a stick. I spent the whole first night lying chortling up at my kindle. Sadly, this feature goes on hiatus for a long stretch and when it comes back at the end it's just a highly arbitrary carpet bomb.
As a story it's what youthful indiscretions in the David Eddings canon led me to call a "then they went" book. It follows what's now known as the “save the cat” structure - derived from bad movies, but now applied relentlessly to books. A McGuffin character in danger sparks a long, plot free plod through a series of sideshows on a journey. Kind of like a D and D campaign. One real weak spot, especially if you’ve read “Bored of the Rings” – and if not, then track it down – is the repeated arrival of Deus Ex Machina airways.
There’s a very heavy debt to Discworld, mainly from all the obvious fantasy fiction jokes, plus a cloying layer of the STP schmaltz that other reviews have described as “heart”. For a book that trades a lot on old school rock references, the character development is a lot more Michael Bolton than Whitesnake.
S,o from 20 per cent to the end the book got harder and harder to push uphill, and truthfully I don't think I could eat another whole one.
Plus, it’s an Orbit book, so only 95 per cent of it is actually this book, with 5 per cent of some other writer’s book I’m not interested in. Can I get my 4p back?
Nicholas Eames has seemlessly blended the "after years" of a rock-and-roll band, long past their prime with the fantasy world of magic and dragons.
The titular Kings of the Wyld were once the greatest mercenary band in the world, but now their name can go completely unknown as the world of bands has changed. No longer is glory wrought from lives in danger, in this modern age of mercenary bands, glory is won in structured combat - arenas and the like. However, threat is looming and the world needs someone to step up and once again put their lives on the line - step in Kings of the Wyld, a lot older and now with something to lose.
This is a pretty good book. Clay is a pretty well written hero, he's cool headed, pragmatic and fights his battles defensively looking after his friends. The rest of Saga is fairly diverse too each with their own history, their own reasons for being there. The world is well realised if a little generic for my liking in some regards though the characters do raise the bar. I think I actually like the idea of the book rather than the actual book itself, that said, the writing is decent, at times it's genuinely laugh out loud funny and it's certainly a page turner. My biggest problem I think was the ending felt pretty rushed with a quick run down of what happened to various characters, it was a bit disappointing.
Overall it's pretty good and i'll give the recently released sequel a go when I get the chance but it didn't blow me away. It has some nice ideas, some funny lines and was certainly entertaining but I doubt i'll really remember it much in a year or so. Worth a read if you like fantasy with a slight twist.
+ The idea of old overweight, drunken mercenaries getting together for a last outing is pretty cool.
+ Clay is a decent protagonist.
+ Fairly well written, sometimes laugh out loud funny.
- The world feels a little fantasy generic.
- Ending was a little bit TV character round up for my liking.
I was a bit wary of this going in, as though I had heard a lot of good things about it I thought the gimmick might get a bit much after a while and take away from the story. I was wrong. Though some of the band names made me roll my eyes a few times, at heart this is an old school swords and sorcery novel with magic, monsters and battles galore. Magic is of the old school unexplained variety and generally takes the form of objects. The battles are short and intense (except for the end which is long and intense) but what really stood out were the characters. The whole book is told from the POV of Clay, the rock steady shieldman (bassist) of the company and his is a nice head to inhabit. All of the band are done well, and though conforming to some archetypes (of both fantasy novels and rock bands) they are so likeable that it just all adds to the story.
I'm notorious for not noting the writing much when reading but I did notice it here, there were some beautiful paragraphs of description and observations and it fitted well with the story. This book is definitely tongue in cheek in places but I was surprised by how emotional parts of it were, I was expecting full on parody but half the time I forgot about the whole 'band' thing and was just reading a really good book with all the moments you want from one. It takes half the book to get the band back together but in no way does it feel drawn out, it moves well and the action scenes are really well done. I recommend this to anybody looking for something a little different, a little same, and while not deep it has depth and is just plain fun.