Okay, I was going to attempt to wait to let my love of this book out on the world, but I can’t. I can’t hold it in. *spews rainbows* – sooo… this review is just going to be 1500 words of me squeeing into my computer screen.
I’ve been waiting very uh…. patiently, yeeessssss…. for this book, and when I managed a NetGalley, oh boooy I was on that thing. Immediately!
I was 8% into this thing and had more stuff highlighted than I do for an average over 4 books, lol.
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.
“We all have our rituals,” he said, without taking his eyes off the action below. “Necessary vices that enable us to conquer our fear. Or, if not conquer it, then to at least pile furniture against the door while we duck out back. It’s not enough to survive what we do, Tam. We must also endure it.”
I sat there and I said to myself, before I even started this thing. “It can’t… it just can’t be as good as KotW was.”
Welp. Here we are.
This is the story of Tam, who is seventeen, and the daughter of a well known mercenary and a very well known bard who were once in a band back in the day. Unfortunately, her mom died, leaving her with a father who is now over-the-top overprotective of her, and all she wants to do is go out and find adventure in the world.
And she does manage to break away from her sheltered life… and somehow ends up as the bard for Fable, one of the most famous bands that are touring. Fable is lead by Bloody Rose – Golden Gabe’s daughter, and the reason that he got Saga back together in Kings of the Wyld. Rose is joined by Freecloud, a swordmaster and one of the last of the druin; Cura, a summoner who summons creatures from her tattoos; Brune, a shaman who turns into a bear; and their booker Roderick, who is… a little more than meets the eye.
Most of the bands in the world are generally heading towards the Brumal Horde, a host of monsters like Lastleaf gathered six years previously, but Fable isn’t going that way. They’re finishing their tour, and then they have a contract to complete. Their journey brings them to many different places, where they meet many different kinds of people, and deal with many different kinds of shenanigans. Everything from huuuuge monsters, to undead monsters, to bar brawls, to some very strange animals.
SHENANIGANS – DUN DUN DUNNN
There are a thousand reasons that I loved this book. It is amazingly well put together, and well written. It’s funny as hell and it makes me laugh, yes, but it also has serious moments. Some of those moments got me in the feels pretty good too. The characters became friends of mine, in a way. I really liked Tam as a character, and I liked the journey that the band made. I didn’t start off really liking Rose but she really grew on me as we went… but the real star here, for me, was Freecloud. After Lastleaf, I don’t know what I was expecting from a druin, but I don’t think it was this. I wanted all the good things for him because he deserves good things. He’s just a good dude, full stop. He’s got the prescience, the grace (usually), and sometimes the sort of… otherworldly agelessness that druin do, but at the same time he’s so down to earth and easy to talk to. He’s one of those characters I just latched onto, so as the story went on, and things came to pass… well… feels. The feels happened. Brune and Cura were also fun, and the banter between them made me laugh. Roderick is also a fun dude who is unexpected and yet… he is what he is, lol.
Some characters from KotW make appearances, and the first of which that made me break out into a giant grin was Tiamax (who still reminds me of Garrus Vakarian, there I said it), the arachnian former member of the band Vanguard. He’s a bartender now, in the bar where Tam works, and… y’know, having 6 arms, he’s pretty great at it. 😀
“What is this?” asked the woman he’d made it for.
“Pink?” She sniffed it. “It smells like cat pee.”
“Then order a fucking beer next time,” said Tiamax.
And then there are the subtle and sometimes not-as-subtle references to various games, books, and pretty much everything else that I will always love. A couple of Cura’s summoned creatures reminded me very much of aeons from FFX – one of which is a rather electric horse, and the other of which is my favorite summon in the entire franchise. There was another character who was awfully reminiscent of a very common enemy in the same franchise, and named very appropriately. There was a reference to Shadow of the Colossus. There’s a ‘Winter is Coming’ in there somewhere (and it fit really well. It wasn’t just totally random). I was not-so-subtly geeking out the entire time, for reals. ^_^
The majority of the things I caught were obviously music related though. There’s a band in this one called Men Without Helmets, which immediately got the song Pop Goes the World stuck in my head. If you’re not Canadian, you might not know that one, but you might know Men Without Hats’ other hit song – The Safety Dance. It was on my playlist right after Pop Goes the World, and my childhood of sitting on the floor in front of the TV in the 80s watching nothing but shitty music videos came right back. Yeep. There’s also a pretty clear reference in this one to another song that was famous in Canada but pretty much nowhere else – and here is a link to the music video, and you are so welcome for this, my friends. BASK IN THE GLORY THAT IS MY CHILDHOOD.
I didn’t really realize this until pretty far into this book but… after a reference to Men Without Hats, then Duran Duran, then Whitesnake, and even a minor character whose name was a very subtle but fucking brilliant Van Halen reference… Bloody Rose… takes place in the 80s.
Kings of the Wyld felt like it was representing all the greatest classic rock bands. Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, etc… but not really in a specific time frame. Bands who are, perhaps, past their younger days at this point in the story, but not necessarily out of the game. They can still rock. That feeling is still present here too.
But, as Rose and her band are pretty much the next generation after Saga, their manager, their groupies, and their afterparties definitely reminded me of the brightly colored, platinum-blonde, sometimes utterly ridiculous 80s. And since I was born and spent a good deal of my formative years within the 80s…. I FUCKING LIVED FOR IT. <3<3<3
Ahem, back to business. Like I said, there are a thousand reasons that I loved this book, but I can’t point them all out to you or what fun will you have? So let me just say that if you loved Kings of the Wyld, you’re going to love Bloody Rose.
And, I mean, if you haven’t read Kings of the Wyld yet… then drop everything you are doing. Right now. GO.
This was a fantastic sequel. It was a fantastic book all on its own (but I think you’d probably benefit from reading KotW first although this follows different characters on a different journey). I loved every minute of it. Well… there were a few minutes I could have done without… but all the same, I can’t wait for more!
KotW got 7 stars as well. 6 because it’s one more than 5 (because it went up to 11, which is one more than 10), and a bonus one because Nick Eames is Canadian and I was feeling extra patriotic that day.
This one gets one extra for nostalgia-ing me in the face then making me cry (fucking twice), and then a bonus for making a fucking GOWAN REFERENCE, lol.
OMG… is the next book going to be the 90s? Nirvana, and Tool, and RHCP, and Soundgarden and on and on and on…. 😮 CLEAR MY SCHEDULE!
Thanks again to Orbit via NetGalley for the review copy!