PUBLISHED: AUGUST 2018
PAGE COUNT: 510
GENRE: FANTASY / ADVENTURE / HUMOR
Plot at a Glance:
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.
I always go into sequels to books I loved with a bit of trepidation. The fear is real that the next book in the series isn’t going to be as great, or that I’ll be let down in some way – but I can happily begin this review by stating outright that this book did not disappoint!
In Kings of The Wyld Nicholas Eames crafted a wonderfully vibrant and unique world with the land of Grandual. I found the writing and characters so compelling that I actually ran right out and bought Bloody Rose before I’d even finished the first book!
Set six years after the events that saw Clay Cooper and his bandmates set out across the Heatwyld to rescue Golden Gabe’s daughter – the titular character of this novel – this book centers around Rose’s band and a new quest, though it stays true to the humor and emotional heart Eames established in the first book. The reader gets familiarized with Rose and the new characters of the novel through the POV character, Tam, who I found so wonderfully endearing from start to finish.
Whereas facing the evils of the Heartwyld in and out of the arena is old-hat to Bloody Rose and her band, Tam provides a different perspective. She’s driven at the start to do well by her new role, but her integrity and protective mama-bear nature towards the people who quickly become her friends made me fall in love with her. I think it works really well because Rose especially is emotionally closed off, Tam proves a great lens for readers to really delve into the secret heart of what motivates Rose just through her observations of her.
Unlike book one, where the narrative is driven by the band’s urgency to reach Rose, this novel – at least at its outset – is more of an examination of Rose: who she is behind the armor and the twin scythes that she uses to wreak havoc on the battlefield; how growing up as the daughter of one of the world’s most famous mercenaries has forged her into the woman she is today, and how all these things have led to the darkening storm which naturally she feels that only she can face.
I’d describe the plot in this book as a bit quieter than the plot in the first book. Whereas book one has a very clear narrative arc start to finish (reaching Rose) it takes awhile for the actual meat of the story to start here because the main quest is one that reveals itself as the band moves through the world.
Thematically, this is a story of one character (Rose) and the call for glory that was forced onto her at the moment of her birth. She doesn’t particularly enjoy being Bloody Rose, but at the same time it is all she has ever known and that urge to live up to the glory of her name is all she can comprehend.
Fans of book one are sure to appreciate the ways in which plot threads established there are picked up once more. I find the main plots of these books really so compelling because of the way they’re tied directly to the world-building and history of Grandual. As the story progresses and the danger grows, so too does the reader’s understanding of the world and the character’s place in it.
Speaking of the characters, I’ve gotta give a shoutout to the ancillary cast again in this one. I just love the way that Eames writes his side characters. They’re allowed to grow, and expand over the course of the story, rather than laying it all out for the readers at the beginning. Cura and Brune (I love him lots by the way) respectively both received really gorgeous character growth as the story moved along, confronting childhood trauma so that they could better handle the present dangers in the world.
It was also so much fun to see Eames include so many callbacks to old favorites from the first book. There were so many cameos, but I never felt like they were cheaply done or done only in the name of fan-service. They each have their place and continue to be important to the ongoing larger story of the world, and the movement of power within it.
Also, I’m calling it now: Tally (Clay’s daughter) is the focus of book 3 in her own band – set 3 or 4 years in the future. Here’s hoping anyway!
If you loved all of the fantasy creatures and lore from book 1 – you will be doubly impressed with Bloody Rose. The magical creatures are out in full force in this book, and in many ways they’ve been upgraded to be bigger, badder and more deadly than ever! The Simurg (Dragoneater) was such a cool concept brought to life. I’d love to see much of the sequences involving it played out on a big screen some day.
Filled to the brim with unique world-building, compelling characters and basically everything that I look for in fantasy, Nicholas Eames continues to impress me and has landed the next book in this series directly on my “must read asap” list!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5 stars and a new favorite for me!
Have you read this? What did you think of it? What other fantasy tales are a must for you?