I didn’t even have to read the entire blurb for this one to know that this book was right up my alley. Much like Jonathan French’s The Grey Bastards, any book filled with a group of dudes just fighting and cursing up a storm is something I’m actively interested in reading. This particular romp been getting good reviews and I have heard and fully absorbed the hype. The hype is now my hype. FULL HYPE ASSIMILATION! But really, how could I not?
GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.
Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared 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. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is 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 for one last tour across the Wyld.
“Gods, your very own inn! I can see it now: Blackheart mounted on the wall, Ginny pouring drinks behind the bar, and old Clay Cooper sitting by the fire, telling any with an ear to listen how we had to walk uphill in the snow to slay dragons back in our day.”
You’ll notice in the blurb there that Eames uses the word Band as in mercenary band in the same way that one would use Band as in rock band. This is fucking amazeballs, first of all, because the entire book has this theme. It’s clever AF, because this is used in a way that makes the whole thing so much fun. Sort of like Spinal Tap meets a really good D&D campaign. It’s pretty goddamn great, really.
Clay Cooper, right from page one, is a snarky motherfucker and I love it. He’s living the simple life with his wife and daughter. He’s a watchman who does his job, has a drink or two at the pub, and then goes home. But once upon a time, Clay was a member of Saga, the greatest band in all the Heartwyld. Youngsters are awed by stories of their badassitude. They were legends! They would have posters of these guys on their college dorm rooms, if they had college dorm rooms.
Saving princesses, killing dragons, manticores, ogres, giants, chimeras, centaurs, and whatever else this crazy world can throw at them is what bands do, but Clay has retired from all that. Until his old bandmate Gabriel shows up at his house one day begging for his help. Gabe’s daughter is pretty much up shit creek without a paddle, and it’d be an act of sheer lunacy to try and save her.
So of course they set off to reunite their band to do just that. What are friends for, amirite?
I highlight a lot of stuff in my kindle books, most especially things that make me laugh. So I have pages and pages of clippings from various novels that are either pretty deep philosophical stuff, or (mostly) bits of hilariously sweary dialogue between characters that I love simply because they make me laugh. This one has some of the former, and a lot of the latter. I mean, I wish I could just highlight the entire first quarter of Chapter 25. It seamlessly goes from channeling Sir Terry, claiming one character is the ‘chairman of combustive sciences’ at the University, to channeling Samuel L. Jackson in the very next paragraph, pointing out that ‘even the forces of good must sometimes enlist the service of big, bad motherfuckers.’ Then, a line will come up like Clay’s declaration that ‘you can’t always get what you want’ to which, at 2am, Kristen randomly chirps ‘BUT IF YOU TRY SOMETIME YOU JUST MIGHT FIND YOU GET WHAT YOU NEEEEEEEED!’ (Yep, still married, ladies and gents. I expect pillow-related death by suffocation at some point). Was that line intentionally a Rolling Stones lyric? Christ, I dunno, but this whole book makes me want to listen to classic rock and metal bands either way.
It’s superbly written, full of action, has a really solid plot line that never lets up, some of the most awesome characters I’ve ever read, and a really well built world full of all kinds of mythological and legendary creatures.
And it has a Portal reference in it, FFS. That wins on levels that are only accessible via the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device® – have I mentioned that this is a fantasy novel?
From Magic Moog and his Magnificent Phallic Phylactery, to kidnapping and feigning the death of an unhappy king to a last-minute arena gig and and more, this book is a hilarious romp from start to finish. I laughed my ass off. What a great debut from Nicholas Eames. He’s Canadian too, so, y’know, extra points for that as well. 🙂
7/5 stars!!!!! – I fucking loved it! I can’t wait for the next book!