A stand-alone epic fantasy adventure featuring a band of legendary mercenaries set in the world of Kings of the Wyld from author Nicholas Eames, who has been hailed as “the voice of modern fantasy” by Michael R. Fletcher.
Live fast, die young.
Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.
When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.
It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.
For more from Nicholas Eames, check out Kings of the Wyld.
Like a band releasing their sophomore album, Nicholas Wanes’ Bloody Rose both trods familiar roads and pushes the boundaries of its predecessor. If you enjoyed Kings of the Wyld for its humor and vibrant fantasy world, you will find more of it to love here!
Bloody Rose picks up a few years after Kings of the Wyld. While the story of that book is referenced and ends up being key to the plot, I feel like this isn’t a direct sequel in that you could probably enjoy this without reading Kings of the Wyld first.
The narration of this book is handled by a girl in her late teens, Tam Hashford, who starts a new life on the road with the titular heroine’s band of mercenaries, Fable. Tam is a fresh and naive voice for this story and contrasts in almost every way with the last book’s gruff and world-weary Clay Cooper.
Tam’s voice lends itself to humor and surprise, and that tone is used to full effect in the first part of this story which takes an almost episodic pace as we get to know the various members of Fable and their struggles. I found myself missing Clay and Saga at times, but there were enough cameos and sweet moments that it coalesced by the end into the familiar feeling of visiting old friends.
And therein lies my gripe, in Kings of the Wyld, where the connection and shared history of the characters was palpable and ran through the narrative, I found that Bloody Rose struggled at times to make the connection between characters as meaningful. There were tender moments, and I found myself tearing up by the end (Eames is damned brilliant with inspiring climax moments), but some characters felt more realized than others.
I found myself wishing for more time spent developing the interpersonal connections between the band members. Some connections were well done: Rose and Free Cloud, Brune and Kira, but some felt lacking. I felt like this was particularly true of Tam’s relationships and especially her eventual romance.
I found that some of the humor took away from the emotional impact of these character moments, but your mileage may vary. To get back to my sophomore album analogy: some people are going to eat this book up. It delivers on what makes King of the Wyld great in a big way, but that’s the problem with sophomore albums: everyone has their opinion of what made the first one great.
In my opinion, the humor in Kings of the Wyld was great, but I was able to overlook the times it became distracting. In Bloody Rose, I found myself wishing we could get back to what I loved about the first book—which while those moments of family and togetherness were there, felt like it took a backseat at times.
The funny thing is this may sound like a negative review, but this is an easy 4/5 stars for me. Look, expectations are hard. I routinely need to listen and read books multiple times to see how I feel about them, and this might be the case here. I also suspect the things I found as negatives won’t bother most readers because, at the end of the day, this book was beautiful, bloody, bold, and bombastic. It just wasn’t Kings of the Wyld.