I’ve recently read Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames and wow, it’s honestly one of the best fantasy reads that I’ve read for a while (probably since Shades of Magic), so of course I couldn’t help but share it. However, rather than writing a full book review I thought I’d share some of my favourite quotes from the novel, as they’re a good mix of both powerful and inspiring, as well as downright hilarious. But before we get into the quotes, I thought to give you a summary of the plot and few of my thoughts, just so you know what you’re getting in for.
Kings of the Wyld follows Clay Cooper, a retired member of Saga, a band renowed as one of the best to have ever existed containing some of the dirtiest, most brutal mercenaries around. However, now their glory days have past, Clay enjoys quiet life at home with his wife and daughter, until ex-bandmate Gabe turns up at his door begging for help – his own daughter Rose (now in a band herself) is trapped in a city surrounded by hordes of monsters the other side of the Heartwyld. Once Clay is finally enlisted, the two of them trek across various cities, attempting to get their old band members back: Ganelon, Moog and Matrick, and then head off to bring Rose back home.
The main aspect that I like about Kings of the Wyld is the world-building. Eames illustrates this beautiful land in which the novel takes place and fills it with various monsters, characters and cities, all of which are revisited by the characters throughout the novel, not only on their physical journey but also through their memories, letting the reader see how the people and places have aged and changed.
The characters themselves are endearing in their friendship and loyalty to one another, sometimes beyond logical sense, and whilst often the pages are filled with casual banter, they also have thought-provoking and sincere discussions. In addition, the same is communicated through Clay’s own narration containing yet more humour and deeper reflections on both himself and his companions.
Anyway, that’s probably enough of my thoughts, onto the quotes, which although are much better in context, stand quite well by themselves. I’ve sorted them into 3 categories: Inspiring, Funny and Thought Provoking.
“But what does a mirror know? What can it show us of ourselves? Oh, it might reveal a few scars, and perhaps a glimpse—there, in the eyes—of our true nature. The spirit beneath the skin. Yet the deepest scars are often hidden, and though a mirror might reveal our weakness, it reflects only a fraction of our strength.”
“As individuals they were each of them fallible, discordant as notes without harmony. But as a band they were something more, something perfect in its own intangible way”
“And so it goes, thought Clay. Life was funny, and fickle, and often cruel. Sometimes the unworthy went on living, while those who deserved better was lost.
Or not lost, he considered, since they lingered on in the hearts of those who loved them, who love them still, their memory nurtured like a sprig of green in an otherwise desolate soul. Which was, he supposed, a kind of immortality, after all.”
“But life, Clay knew, didn’t work that way. It wasn’t a circle; you didn’t go round and round again. It was an arc, its course as inexorable as the sun’s trek across the sky, destined at its highest, brightest moment to begin its fall.”
“Judge them for what they wished to be,” he begged the Father of Gods, “not what the world made of them.”
“he had long since learned that harbouring regrets was akin to stashing embers in your pockets: it was pointless and bound to hurt.”
“The druins were brilliant craftsmen and powerful sorcerers, who ruled with the liberty of gods over the then-primitive tribes of men and monsters. But as with anything that grows too big for its own good—ambitious spiderwebs, for instance, or those giant, late-harvest pumpkins—it became something altogether monstrous, and eventually collapsed on itself.”
“Be careful of making friends out of enemies, lest they remember why they didn’t like you in the first place.”
“Because even a misspent life, he reasoned, was worth remembering.”
“Clay pushed his body off him and mumbled another apology – because, enemy or not, when you hit a man in the nuts with a magic hammer the least you could say was sorry.”
“Well, you see how big he was. Apparently he broke through a latrine seat and drowned in the sewage below.” A shitty way to go,”
“Despite this, his prejudice against helmets remained unchanged. You had your pride, Ganelon had told him once, or you had nothing.”
“The ship, which appeared to belong to another band, was just passing by for a look. She was bigger than the Old Glory, but not by much. The words Lucky Seven had been painted on her belly, but the seven had been crossed out, as had the six below it. The word five was scrawled underneath, but Clay only spotted four people at the rail and wondered silently if the ship was due for another paint job.”
“A battle, as relayed by a poet, is a glorious thing, full of heroic stands, daring charges, and valiant sacrifice. But a battlefield, as experienced by some poor bastard mired in the thick of it, is something different altogether. The word clusterfuck came to mind.”
“Clay considered offering up the fact that it wasn’t just Saga coming to her rescue, but a wine-swilling ghoul, an amnesiac daeva, and a half-blind ettin were along for the ride as well. Then again, if something sounded ridiculous in your head, then voicing it aloud rarely did it any favours.”
“What’s that, honey? What was I doing while Uncle Gabe was dueling a god with all of civilization at stake? Why, I was wrestling in the muck with an exceptionally tenacious cow.”
“We were giants, once,” he said. “Bigger than life. And now …”
“Now we are tired old men,” Clay muttered, to no one but the night. And what was so wrong with that? He’d met plenty of actual giants in his day, and most of them were assholes.”
“This day,” said Gabriel, “this moment, is when you step out from the shadow of the past. Today you make your name. Today your legend is born. Come tomorrow, every tale the bards tell will belong to you, because today we save the world!” Clay sighed in relief. There’d been a hammer, after all. Gabriel tore Vellichor from its scabbard and leveled it at the encroaching Horde. “This is not a choice between life and death, but life and immortality! Remain here and die in obscurity, or follow me now and live forever!”
So there you have it, that concludes my favourite quotes from Kings of the Wyld. If you have any favourites I’d love to know, equally, if you’ve either read it before or want to read it it’d be great to hear from you!