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  • Writer's pictureD.S. Ritter

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames


Cover of Kings of the Wyld book

Kings of the Wyld had been on my radar for a long time, mainly because of how people talked about it in fantasy reading groups on social media. It's not exactly a mash-up, per-say, but it's definitely something. Like A Knight's Tale, makes stars out of its knights, Kings of the Wyld treats its Dungeons and Dragons-esque questing parties as rock bands. To his credit, Nicholas Eames leans into this concept and gets some great effect.

The result is a really fun, kind of silly swords and sorcery novel that utterly entertains.


Synopsis

Clay "Slowhands" Cooper has been enjoying his retirement, having settled down and started a family, when "Golden Gabe," the front man of his old band, Saga, shows up begging him to help rescue Rose, Gabe's estranged daughter. Begrudgingly, Clay agrees. Together, he and Gabe endeavor to get the band back together, storm the castle (more like a besieged city) where Rose is trapped with her own band.


Whatever this is, it works...

I seriously don't know what to call this literary device, but I love it. Implementing modern sensibilities on medieval settings is so much fun. This is the same magic that's at work in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, it's what gave A Knight's Tale its flare. If you like those flavors, you're probably going to love this.


Kings of the Wyld paints fighters and wizards as rockstars with a fame almost reminiscent of rockers from the 70's, with tours and bands selling out packed arena shows, complete with groupies and shitty managers. The juxtaposition of monsters and magic and this particular flavor of celebrity and nostalgia works incredibly well.


Owl... Bears? Owl Bears!

Tiny spoiler, but there are owl bears! Bear bodies, owl heads. Big claws. Deadly. So cute though! Why are they so cute if you're not supposed to hug them?! Moog definitely hugs them. But Moog's a wizard. Don't you hug them, unless you also want to feed them. Owl bears are absolutely the best!


Vibe Check

While I had a ton of fun reading this book, I did notice something kind of off-putting. The women are pretty much all awful, and if they aren't awful, they're an obstacle or a problem. Clay's wife and daughter are mostly fine (but are also barely in the book) and other than that, the women Saga run into are either trying to rob them, kill them, or both. Gabe's ex-wife ends up being slightly less shit than you initially think, but that's the best I can say for her. Keep in mind though, I didn't really pick up on this on my first read and the sequel, Bloody Rose, which focuses on Rose and her band, more than makes up for this.


Conclusion

This is a really fun read full of great world-building, loveable characters (Moog is so many kinds of awesome) and it has owl bears, so how could it possibly be bad? Generally, you probably didn't know you need a book that reads like if Freaks and Geeks or Almost Famous had a baby with a D&D campaign, but you absolutely do need that book in your life.


Betchdel Test: Fail


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