“What is this, beef? I can’t eat this! Have you got a salad or something?”
“No, I haven’t got a fucking salad,” said Roderick.
The minotaur stared flatly between the bars of his cage. “Be a lot cooler if you did.”
Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames is the highly anticipated sequel to Kings of the Wyld, the breakout fantasy novel of 2017.
Kings of the Wyld was one of the most-fun books I’ve ever read, custom-designed as it was to tickle my nostalgia-bone and my deep abiding love for callback humor and wit. I described it in my review as “a mix of This is Spinal Tap!, Blues Brothers, The First Law Trilogy, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with your best friends from high school that you haven’t seen in a long time.”
Bloody Rose doesn’t quiiiiiiiite match up to its predecessor, but it’s a strong book that’s sure to please fans of the first one.
Bloody Rose follows the same format as Kings of the Wyld. Groups of adventurers – or “bands” – are the biggest celebrities in the world. Kings of the Wyld followed the band “Saga,” the biggest and baddest band of them all. Saga broke up years ago but reunited in for one last quest. They went on sidequests and had individual character arcs and heroes journeys and stuff. Bloody Rose follows a different band, who are also on one last quest, with individual character arcs and heroes journeys and stuff.
You don’t NEED to have read Kings of the Wyld before you read Bloody Rose. Bloody Rose has different characters going on a different adventure, with a more-or-less self-contained plot. You SHOULD read Kings of the Wyld before you read Bloody Rose, though. Characters from Kings repeatedly pop back up in Bloody Rose, and their relationships will make more sense if you read Kings first. Events from Kings are also commonly referred to in Bloody Rose. And, while both books are self-contained, there is an over-arching storyline that connects them. You might as well start at the beginning.
Bloody Rose is a good time. It’s an epic fantasy adventure. It was terrific to revisit some of my favorite characters from Kings of the Wyld, and the band that’s the focus of Bloody Rose has some cool members.
Buuuuut….I felt more removed from these members. In Kings of the Wyld, the POV character had known the other members of the band for years and years, so I was provided with a ton of knowledge about all of the other band members (just from a slightly biased perspective). The point-of-view character in Bloody Rose, however, has just met the band. She only knows them by reputation. Artistically, it’s a fine choice that allows the writer to explore reputation vs. reality, the nature of fame, the formation of legends, and other themes that could not have been explored in Kings of the Wyld. Unfortunately, it also placed me in the same sort of outsider shoes such that I never really felt like I got to know the members of this band, certainly not as well as I did the members of Saga.
I’m still extremely happy that I read this book, and I’m certainly looking forward to Book 3. Seriously, if you like fantasy novels and/or D&D and/or stuff that rocks, check out this series. It’s good stuff.
My rating: 5 stars