Kings of the Wyld. Book Review

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Orbit, p/b, 528pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Joely Black

What happens when an author decides to mix Dungeons and Dragons adventure with rock and roll? Kings of the Wyld does. Eames’ debut is a delightful mixture of fantasy quest, rock and roll history, and an exploration of aging and father daughter relationships.

Clay Cooper is a former adventurer. As a member of Saga, he had become a legendary warrior, famous for his exploits with his band. Now he has settled down, embraced family life as middle age has reduced him to standing guard on a wall. All of this comes to a screeching halt when band frontman Golden Gabriel shows up on his doorstep, with a new quest for the band: rescuing Gabe’s daughter from the besieged city of Castia. Inspired by his own daughter, Clay agrees to throw aside his new life for the old, bringing the band back together and setting off on one last epic adventure.

Eames has done an excellent job at blending the worlds of fantasy and rock and roll. His style will bring to mind Pratchett and Adams, both humorous and insightful. Expects in modern music can enjoy picking out band references, but there’s a great deal for fans of traditional fantasy fiction as well. Besides all that, there are some hidden nods to the broader geek world, embracing everything from books to video games.

This is a delightful debut, and very easy to read. Eames is keenly aware of the many issues current in fantasy culture and has folded them subtly into a book that combines adventure with keen observation. His approach feels as though the classic model of the adventurer – the male warrior going into battle – is handing over to a much more diverse idea of what makes a fantasy hero. As the older men go in search of a daughter who is just as much a fighter as they are, we see the sheer variety possible in the fantasy genre.

This will appeal to fans of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, who are looking for something addictive they can really dig into, taking the same lovingly mocking look at some of the giant traditions of fantasy. Eames has made a great debut and promises to do much more with future books.