Having only a few hours left to finish Bingo, and not yet quite having a bingo, I’m using Reader’s Choice in lieu of True Story–because I’m not the sort of person who enjoys reading True Stories anyway. So, Bingo! (Bingo across the top row: Remix, Reader’s Choice [for True Story], Far and Away, Youths!, Reading the TBR).
Several months ago, I read the highly-recommended-online Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (also with Aquillius from my previous review, AKA my husband). We both love fantasy, and he introduced me to metal, so it seemed rather fair that we explored together a newish fantasy book that played with the idea of rock stars and rock bands. Because the premise of Kings of the Wyld is simple: a once-famous mercenary band of great fame gets together for a final ‘tour’, fighting off monsters in the great and dangerous Wyld. The thing is, they’re older now, with bad backs and beer bellies and something that makes their lives rather more complicated: families (some more dysfunctional than others).
We’ve got Gabriel, the front man, whose idea it is to bring the Band back together. We’ve got Moog, the kooky wizard; Mat, a rogue-turned-king; and Ganelon, emotionally damaged but the only one still fighting fit. And of course there’s Clay: our hero, the one through whose eyes we experience the story, who is solid and dependable, whose greatest weapon is his shield. (Some of the ‘band’ roles as they relate to music are obvious: Gabe’s the singer, Mat’s the drummer, Clay’s the bass player. Ganelon’s probably the lead guitar, and Moog is… I dunno, keyboard? Synth player?) Their goal: fight a ridiculous number of monsters to try to save Gabe’s not-so-little girl, who’s gone off and formed her own mercenary band.
The story is often episodic and relies overly much on lucky breaks or chances. But the Band themselves are fantastic, and Clay is especially likable (Though I enjoyed Moog and Mat most, especially together). Overall, the book can be a little bro-y at times (I think my husband was won over more quickly than I was). But actually, Eames doesn’t shy away from the emotional, and some of his authorial choices seem deliberate to undermine that sense of bro-ness. For example, Moog is gay but it never seems a big deal (his partner has died from a terrible disease, and the sense of loss is always with him, but the fact that he was in love with another man is never really even remarked on by the characters.) Ganelon has a pretty messed up childhood and is emotionally stunted but has some fun moments nonetheless. There’s a pretty sweet minor subplot with an Ettin. And Clay truly loves his bandmates, even when they drive him mad.
If you’re looking for something humorous that plays with some stereotypes and has some fun rock-and-roll references, you can’t go wrong with Kings of the Wyld. I enjoyed it, though I think it was overhyped–but I don’t think I was really the target audience in some ways (and that’s okay with me). The sequel, Bloody Rose, is on my TBR list, and I think my husband’s looking forward to it too. It’s between 3 and 4 stars for me.