I received an advanced review copy of the well sought after Bloody Rose from Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Nicholas Eames and the awesome Nazia.
Even Eames himself said that the success of Kings of the Wyld was like a guillotine to his neck. Metaphorically of course. With an exceptional, original award-winning debut there will always be doubts about where to go next and if it can be better. I’m happy to say Bloody Rose blows Golden Gabe, Moog, and Slowhand’s adventures out of the water!
Rose, Gabe’s daughter who he adhered to rescue from the bloody and horrific horde siege of Castia is stepping out of her father’s shadow. She is the frontwoman for Fable, the most popular band in the land. She also flaunts two legendary swords. Events commence on their tour starting at Ardburg. The bands here are essentially mercenaries or gangs who join events to pocket a pretty coin by battling drugged droogs in arenas. Originally, the esteemed bands were legendary folks who would traverse the Heartwyld and other grotesque places to put demons, beasts and even dragons to the sword. Like the siege of Castia in Kings of the Wyld there are the rumours of an uprising coming to attack headed by the giant Brontide!
Rose and her untouchable and picturesque companions in Fable decide to fulfill their tour dedications that oppose the oncoming threating invasion from the horde which Rose is all too familiar with, with her incarceration at Castia a few years before. Instead, they have a greater goal. She wants to step out of her father’s shadow in a majestic way by taking on and destroying a legendary beast that is infamous for its notoriousness and the fact it is rumoured to be impossible to kill. The last band of warriors who tried lasted only 17 seconds prior to their ultimate demise.
One of the finest elements of Kings of the Wyld was the camaraderie of the band. The closeness, loyalty, friendship, and dedication to each other – so I was surprised when Eames surmised that the second entry in The Band trilogy would feature mostly all new players.
It’s written from one point of view perspective. Tam’s, who is, in the third person, a wannabe bard. She works as a barmaid at The Cornerstone which is the main establishment where all the bands or warriors in town frequent, drink and fight. They have a rule, as a respectable establishment, there are no fights allowed before 12 o’clock! She had famous parents in the mercenary and band scene and after a potent and exceptional musical performance at the inn she ends up joining Fable and the adventures begin.
The greatest thing about Eames writing is the humour. I laughed my face off a few times but I will acknowledge that this sort of humour in fantasy is not for everyone. Honestly, though, it perfectly fits what I enjoy and I can see why this gentleman won a Gemmell award. When you have lines such as “as crazy as socks on a centipede” you know it is pretty awesome. 🙂
This is a standalone novel, however, about 20% more enjoyment can be given if you’ve read The Band #1. A few players return who are as hilarious as ever and OWLBEARS! (Anyone who has read the first book knows that that is a reason to purchase this novel!)
There are so many new amazing colourful and complex characters. The lead ticks the LGBT boxes and is someone who is worth following. The gang incorporates a witch who can summon her tattoed demons into the field of battle, a legendary immortal rabbit-eared warrior and a shapeshifter who can turn into a bear. The first half builds up the amazing relationships and character personalities.
This has an amazing fist-bumping ultimate excellent finale but I did have a few negatives. Occasionally I got a little disorientated with the action. Occasionally, scenes during the middle seemed like a slight mess to me but wow, the ending was one of the negatives I had in Kings of the Wyld. In Bloody Rose, the build-up, culmination, and the eventual ending is perfectly composed, performed and written. I’ve read most of the top new authors in the last few years and Eames is the one to watch who will end up in Rothfuss, Lynch, Martin territory for excellence. Keep up the great work Nick. You’ve got a huge fan in me. Recommended.