I had high expectations before I started reading Kings of the Wyld. It had been recommended to me numerous times, and sounded like a fun ride. Many people I follow have had it in top 10 lists and so I had high hopes, which often leads to disappointment.
In Kings of the Wyld, mercenary bands are celebrities, ala rock bands of the 70’s in our world. The plot follows ‘Slowhand’ Clay Cooper and the members of Saga, his band. This band however broke up twenty years ago, they are legends old, fat, and well and truly past their prime. When Golden Gabe, Saga’s front man, comes to town to ask for Clay’s help, they decide it’s time to get the band back together for one last legendary tour.
Eames managed to make me laugh on more occasions than any book has a right to, and that with me missing most of his seventies rock references that were so lovingly worked in.
By about halfway through Kings of the Wyld I was having a good time. It was an enjoyable, light hearted fantasy romp. It didn’t take itself too seriously and was doing a good job at introducing us to interesting characters. I knew how this was going though, it was going to be like one of those film comedies that pass the time and are enjoyable enough, but ultimately are just fine.
Now please don’t read fine there as bad. It was fine. Enjoyable. Had given me a few chuckles and a nice time. It just lacked a little substance. Or so I thought.
As I passed the halfway point however, I started to enjoy this book more and more. With about 100 pages left I suddenly realised that I really cared. I cared about these characters, I cared about their mission, and I cared about Clay getting home safe. I suddenly understood the first half of this book. It hadn’t just been getting the chuckles in and having a fun romp, it had been laying character groundwork and setting up relationships that I felt invested in. With very little time these characters had become my guys, Saga felt like my band as much as Clay’s or Gabe’s.
There is one particular moment just as the story is climaxing where Gabe makes a rollicking speech. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, don’t worry. What I will say though, is that it made me want to be there, to be on the edge of glory with Saga, and to earn it with them. That’s not a feeling I can honestly say many books have made me feel.
So, while this is in many ways a comedy, I want you to know this is not just a comedy. It’s not even just a brilliant comedy. It is much, much more. Kings of the Wyld is a brilliant fantasy tale in every regard. I cannot recommend it enough to any fantasy lover, it will make you laugh and it will make you cry, unless you are an extremely manly man like me. *cough*
Currently it is 10th January, and I know this sounds silly to say, but I think this will probably be one of the best books I read this year. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a perfect book, but it’s close enough to make it impossible for a ten point rating scale to differentiate.
Go forth and read.