Kings of the Wyld Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
A retired group of legendary mercenaries get the band back together for one last impossible mission in this award-winning debut epic fantasy.
Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.
Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help - the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. It's time to get the band back together.
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|Listening Length||17 hours and 49 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 21, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #3,919 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#19 in Humorous Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
#44 in Dragon & Mythical Creatures Fantasy
#72 in Humorous Fantasy (Books)
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Top reviews from the United States
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This is a darkly funny tale with plenty of twists, turns, narrow escapes, and outrageous action adventure. You find yourself laughing out loud and at times choked up by the raw emotion of these life long friends coming back together for one last time to save the day.
The story is set in a world that feels as if someone took humor from The Book of Unwritten Tales and Discworld, groups of players from MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft or Everquest (you have groups of a few people with one being the leader, each party member having a distinctive role etc.), creatures from pretty much every imaginable source possible, grittiness of Abercrombie's Before They Are Hanged or Polansky's Low Town, magical equipment of Baldur's gate and Diablo and a bunch of fantasy stereotypes and blended all that together.
End result feels more like a computer game walk through. The author keeps introducing new things in it, new creatures, new so called monsters, over and over. Feels as if you're in a MMORPG or a single player role playing game and you're guiding your party from one part of the world to the other and of course on the way you meet something new trying to kill you every few meters with something neutral or helpful thrown in every now and then.
For me, the world building and story's mixture of seriousness and humor just didn't click. The magic felt unexplained, political structure was ok for a funny book and ridiculous for a serious book. It felt lacking on all sides. The only redeeming quality of the book is the way the bad guys are described. Bunny ears aside, the author managed to create monsters and villains that are anything but that. You can't help but root for them and hope, beyond all hope, that one of them will manage to get the upper hand. The way they are portrayed makes them feel the real victim and that is what saves the story.
I removed one star because I dislike the jumbled up mess that is the world. It feels as if it contains pretty much every fantasy creature and race the author ever saw, heard about or googled with a few invented added in just in case everything wasn't enough.
I removed two stars because for me the dynamics of humour and seriousness in the story doesn't work. For example, you have a meeting of main characters. Confrontation between good and evil. And then you have a pillow between legs penis joke thrown in. It completely removes the gravity of the situation. There is more like that in the story. Lots more but it’s too erratic and it ruins the mood.
I then added back one star because of the way the description of the monsters made me feel throughout and at the end of the story.
All in all it's a decent book to read but I did not lose any sleep over it. I might read the next one in the series but this one didn’t leave me with any anticipation worth mentioning. It did make me think of the monsters though.
On its face a simple story - a man asking his old friends to help save his daughter from what they all know, is an impossible situation.
And it remains a simple story.
A funny, sad; sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting story where hard men demonstrate simple acts of humanity that convey more compassion than paragraphs of flowery language. I didn't need a thesaurus next to my bedside to read this book, and when you might, the author made fun of himself.
Don't let this review confuse you, this is a band of fat, old, drunk, womanizing mercenaries- who just happened to live long enough to make a choice of who and what they want to be when the grow up, when glory isn't enough..
I would recommend this book to anyone I know.
Edit: Ok I lied The one thing I would change would be adding a chapter for the antagonists. The bones of his motivation are there but some flesh, his conflict, the compromises he needed to make - what he lost to assemble his mosh pit.
Top reviews from other countries
A quick note: If you are offended by the frequent use of the "F" word and similar, this book is not for you. It comes up a lot in character dialogue. Considering the setting and characters, it does not feel excessive.
Kings of the Wyld presses my buttons on many levels. Let me start by saying I'm 47 and a portion of my youth was spent playing and "dungeon mastering" the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. I have a few minor aches and pains, and I'll never fit in those clothes I wore as a teenager again. This is relevant because...
Kings of the Wyld is about a band (Dungeons and Dragons style adventuring party) of middle-aged overweight and often drunk ex-mercenaries that emerge from what passes as normal retirement to get the band back together.
Their mission - rescue their frontman Gabriel's daughter from inevitable evisceration by almost the entire contents of the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual besieging the city of Castia where she is trapped.
The monstrous ensemble is called the Heartwyld Horde led by the sympathetically tragic Lastleaf - a Druin who seems to be a bit like an elf except with bunny ears. And he rides a Wyvern. I should point out here that this book does not take itself at all seriously except for a few genuinely poignant moments (wipes tear from eye at the memory of the closing scenes). This book has given me so many laughs!
Who are the band?
The hero of this tale is Clay whose inner monster was tamed by a loving wife and a darling daughter. He has long since hung up Blackheart – a wooden shield made out of a Treant – and retired. Then Gabriel comes calling.
Gabriel – divorced father of the damsel in distress and would be wielder of a potent magic sword except that he sold it to the cad now married to his ex-wife.
Then there is the wizard Moog who mourns the loss of his husband to the incurable “rot” disease from which he also suffers. One of the hazards of wandering the Heartwyld. He makes a living as an alchemist selling “Phylactery” which is best described as Viagra in gaseous form. And he lives in a tower that is almost exactly the same shape as a “thingy.” If you wonder what I mean by “thingy” just go back to that Viagra reference and I’m sure you’ll get it. The knocker on the door to his tower is a particularly amusing character named Steve who struggles to speak due to the brass ring in his mouth... and I thought I was cool having a brass dolphin on my front door.
Matrick is the band's drummer, sorry, knife-wielding warrior thief that somehow became King. The Queen has managed to produce 5 heirs to the throne, none of them fathered by Matrick himself and, oh yes, the Queen wants him dead. Extracting him from his former life to reform the band is trickier than you might think…
Lastly, there is Ganelon who is remarkably forgiving of the fact his former bandmates left him in a quarry turned to stone by a Basilisk for 20 years.
Other characters help and hinder them on the way, and I shall always remember the Ettin, Dane and Gregor with fondness. (An Ettin is a two-headed giant in case you’re wondering).
After suffering the indignity of being robbed by a band of girls named the Silk Arrows (twice!), the band’s expedition takes them through the Heartwyld that is still remarkably full of trouble considering so many of its denizens surround Castia for the whole story. The trip is complicated by the fact Matrick’s wife (the Queen) hired a bounty hunter to assassinate him. Is the bounty hunter a shadowy figure in a hooded cloak? Bobba Fett's twin brother? Nope. A bad-ass Daeva - false god nightmare of a winged woman with her own band of red-robed monks held in her thrall all riding in a skyship!
This story is chock full of humour, monsters, magic and magical weaponry, more monsters and touching moments. And touching moments with monsters (some of them wielding magical weaponry). If you’ve ever wished you could read a story with a wondrous variety of monsters all doing their worst, Kings of the Wyld is like a bowl of every flavour ice cream with a chocolate flake stuck in it plus syrup and those little coloured sugar tubes on top (I know them as hundreds and thousands). There are probably some marshmallows jammed in there somewhere too. Pure indulgence.
Of course, none of this would be worth our reading time or the 5th star if it were not woven into a compelling story. Make no mistake; this is not a regurgitated video or role-playing game. As a student of story craft myself, I know a well-structured story when I read one, and they are not found in the fantasy genre often enough. Nicholas Eames knows his stuff – the story twists, turns and pinches in all the places it must to cast its spell over any fantasy fan even if they never played Dungeons and Dragons. It's been a very long time since I last enjoyed reading a book this much. Count me in for the sequels.
If all this were not enough, Kings of the Wyld asks one of life’s most compelling questions. The answer to which the wizard Moog and every child under the age of 8 already knows…
Do owlbears actually exist?
There's one joke, that it's a world where D and D adventure parties are treated like old school rock stars, which runs out of steam by about 20%.
It never fully grasps the comedy nettle. There are a lot of po-faced fantasy tropes served straight, including what should have been a highly parody-able, none more creaky fantasy cod religion.
I like being in on the joke, and once I'd spotted that point of view character Clay lives in a village called Coverdale I realised the book is an Easter egg hunt. There was - ironically - something about rain on a wedding day, and a bit with a bloke selling rats on a stick. I spent the whole first night lying chortling up at my kindle. Sadly, this feature goes on hiatus for a long stretch and when it comes back at the end it's just a highly arbitrary carpet bomb.
As a story it's what youthful indiscretions in the David Eddings canon led me to call a "then they went" book. It follows what's now known as the “save the cat” structure - derived from bad movies, but now applied relentlessly to books. A McGuffin character in danger sparks a long, plot free plod through a series of sideshows on a journey. Kind of like a D and D campaign. One real weak spot, especially if you’ve read “Bored of the Rings” – and if not, then track it down – is the repeated arrival of Deus Ex Machina airways.
There’s a very heavy debt to Discworld, mainly from all the obvious fantasy fiction jokes, plus a cloying layer of the STP schmaltz that other reviews have described as “heart”. For a book that trades a lot on old school rock references, the character development is a lot more Michael Bolton than Whitesnake.
S,o from 20 per cent to the end the book got harder and harder to push uphill, and truthfully I don't think I could eat another whole one.
Plus, it’s an Orbit book, so only 95 per cent of it is actually this book, with 5 per cent of some other writer’s book I’m not interested in. Can I get my 4p back?
Nicholas Eames has seemlessly blended the "after years" of a rock-and-roll band, long past their prime with the fantasy world of magic and dragons.
The titular Kings of the Wyld were once the greatest mercenary band in the world, but now their name can go completely unknown as the world of bands has changed. No longer is glory wrought from lives in danger, in this modern age of mercenary bands, glory is won in structured combat - arenas and the like. However, threat is looming and the world needs someone to step up and once again put their lives on the line - step in Kings of the Wyld, a lot older and now with something to lose.
This is a pretty good book. Clay is a pretty well written hero, he's cool headed, pragmatic and fights his battles defensively looking after his friends. The rest of Saga is fairly diverse too each with their own history, their own reasons for being there. The world is well realised if a little generic for my liking in some regards though the characters do raise the bar. I think I actually like the idea of the book rather than the actual book itself, that said, the writing is decent, at times it's genuinely laugh out loud funny and it's certainly a page turner. My biggest problem I think was the ending felt pretty rushed with a quick run down of what happened to various characters, it was a bit disappointing.
Overall it's pretty good and i'll give the recently released sequel a go when I get the chance but it didn't blow me away. It has some nice ideas, some funny lines and was certainly entertaining but I doubt i'll really remember it much in a year or so. Worth a read if you like fantasy with a slight twist.
+ The idea of old overweight, drunken mercenaries getting together for a last outing is pretty cool.
+ Clay is a decent protagonist.
+ Fairly well written, sometimes laugh out loud funny.
- The world feels a little fantasy generic.
- Ending was a little bit TV character round up for my liking.
I was a bit wary of this going in, as though I had heard a lot of good things about it I thought the gimmick might get a bit much after a while and take away from the story. I was wrong. Though some of the band names made me roll my eyes a few times, at heart this is an old school swords and sorcery novel with magic, monsters and battles galore. Magic is of the old school unexplained variety and generally takes the form of objects. The battles are short and intense (except for the end which is long and intense) but what really stood out were the characters. The whole book is told from the POV of Clay, the rock steady shieldman (bassist) of the company and his is a nice head to inhabit. All of the band are done well, and though conforming to some archetypes (of both fantasy novels and rock bands) they are so likeable that it just all adds to the story.
I'm notorious for not noting the writing much when reading but I did notice it here, there were some beautiful paragraphs of description and observations and it fitted well with the story. This book is definitely tongue in cheek in places but I was surprised by how emotional parts of it were, I was expecting full on parody but half the time I forgot about the whole 'band' thing and was just reading a really good book with all the moments you want from one. It takes half the book to get the band back together but in no way does it feel drawn out, it moves well and the action scenes are really well done. I recommend this to anybody looking for something a little different, a little same, and while not deep it has depth and is just plain fun.