Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Kings of the Wyld
The Band, book 1
by Nicholas Eames

Clay Cooper was once a member of Saga, the most renowned mercenary band in the world, but has since retired to live in peace with his wife and young daughter–until the night his old bandmate Gabriel shows up on his doorstep, desperate for help.  Gabe’s daughter, Rose, is trapped in a city half the world away, besieged by a host of monsters known as the Heartwyld Horde.

Clay reluctantly agrees to go along, and together they set out to reunite the disparate members of their old band: Moog, an absent-minded wizard; Matrick, a cuckolded king held prisoner by his own wife; and Ganelon, a deadly warrior who has spent the decades since Saga disbanded encased in stone.

Reunited, they set out across the vast, monster-infested forest called the Heartwyld, clashing along the way with feral cannibals, vengeful gods, and a relentless bounty-hunter named Larkspur.  The Horde awaiting them at Castia, however, is the greatest threat of all, and to overcome it Saga must convince both their aging peers and a generation of restless youth to risk everything in pursuit of a mercenary’s most valued currency: everlasting glory.

It’s time to get the band back together.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. It’s a big quest story with lots of modern music references sprinkled in. I personally didn’t mind all these little easter eggs, and probably missed a fair few. It didn’t feel gimicky to me, nor did anything I may have missed take away from my enjoyment. They’re little bonuses if you want them, and ordinary names and dialogue if you don’t. There’s a great balance of action and humor with plenty of battles and serious moments to keep the lighthearted tone fairly grounded.

I liked all of the characters. They felt well-developed, with their own personalities and individual motivations for going on this adventure, and they also had a good dynamic between them. They’re not the young, prime of their lives characters that are oftentimes the heroes. They’re mostly old and out of shape and it has been years since they’ve all been together. They’ve been married, had children, been locked up and turned to stone. They’re the adult friends whose lives have all taken them in different directions, but they still have a bond that they haven’t let go of.

A lot happens on this journey, and I thought it was interesting that certain events are skipped over within the narrative. They just happen off page and we catch up with Clay after they’ve ended. There are so many encounters throughout the book that I neve felt cheated when this happened, and honestly probably kept it from getting too tedious to hear every little thing that happened on the way to Castia.

With plenty of obstacles, side characters, and development along the way, this was a great debut. I definitely recommend if you like a good quest story featuring friendship, fatherhood, and rock bands – I mean mercenaries.