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.
“Pfffft! The fuck is this!?”
Eames is up to his old tricks again. Tricks that, by now, we know and love, yet still creep up on you and scratch you on the cheek in the dark … like harmless cats do (you’ll understand). To say that I wasn’t roaring with laughter from the very first chapter would be a downright lie. I loved this book. I loved getting back to this world and I goddamned loved the characters … though I missed the first Band, the second did their very best to exceed the bar that had already been set.
The humour in this is masterful, but Eames knows when to buckle down and get serious as well.
We’re introduced to a new band, but with some characters that I recognised from the first: Bloody Rose, the storm of violence that is Golden Gabe’s daughter and Freecloud, joined by Brune, a Shaman that can shift into a bear; Cura, an inkwitch; Roderick, their manager … so to speak, he likes eating socks? (Just read it.) and Tam, our main character, who is employed as Fable’s bard (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t think Fable have the same reputation with bards as Saga did). Anyhow, they start off on a secret adventure in the form of one final contract … one final go at fame for Bloody Rose, in the hope to eclipse Saga and her father. Though, of course, it doesn’t run smoothly and all goes tits up.
The fact that there’s a lot of new characters along with those that we know from the first didn’t turn out to be as clustered as I thought it could be, Eames is a master at controlling large groups of characters in and outside of fights; despite the large cast, we have time to get attached to all of the characters, each gets their own character arc, small or not, and you end up all the more close to them for it.
One thing I particularly enjoyed about this novel was that the characters might have been very famous, very formidable warriors, but they were just as fallible, just as broken as ordinary people. This served to ensure that the characters were both relatable and real; characters deal with addiction, loss and many other themes in here. It speaks volumes for Eames’ talent that he can weave these themes into a story that is goddamned funny at the same time.
Finally, there is an overarching storyline of acceptance here. And that’s not just for your own kind, but for everyone – the characters face a dilemma where they must let go of their old prejudices and give everyone a chance not to be a monster … if they want to. It really all melts down into something quite remarkable. From a story about mercenary bands, and the monsters they fight, I take away life lessons, and serious things to think about. A book of our time.
Just go and buy this one. That’s all I need to say on the matter.