Kings of the Wyld Book Review – Ogre’s Book Club

Kings of the Wyld Book Review Cover Image

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I’ve decided to start Ogre’s Book Club, a series of book reviews of books I’m reading and would like to recommend (or tell you to avoid). I’m kicking this segment off with the Kings of the Wyld book review–and it’s definitely a recommendation.

First, a note about spoilers: I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible. I don’t want to ruin the suspense or the surprises for readers. However, a brief summary of some events, plot, or premise is necessary. I’ll do my best to make it less revealing than a modern movie trailer.

Kings of the Wyld is Pretty Great

I’ll get right to it. Kings of the Wyld is fantastic. I read it in a day and a half, including the epilogue and author interview at the back.

Discovering Kings of the Wyld

A week ago, I meandered through my local book store and a book cover, featuring a twin-sword-wielding red-head, caught my attention. I picked up Bloody Rose, by Nicholas Eames, read the back cover and some of the first few pages, and decided to buy it. However, just to make sure it wasn’t a sequel, I looked for other books by Eames and sure enough, his first book, Kings of the Wyld, was also on the shelf. I bought both.

Cover Art by Richard Anderson is Striking

Book covers are important. They are the single largest factor that converts people browsing books to people that buy a particular book. In this case, Richard Anderson did a great job capturing my attention with the cover art of both books. I particularly like the style of both illustrations. Richard Anderson has a sort of blotchy, or sloppy, style with broad brushstrokes and very little fine detail. However, the details he chooses to draw or paint in are well placed. I can say with certainty that the only reason I stopped to look at Bloody Rose on the shelf is because Anderson’s cover art caught my eye. Since this is an art blog, and I imagine you might be an artist interested in art processes and such, you can check out Anderson’s work at flaptrapsart.artstation.com

Kings of the Wyld – Medieval Rock Stars

Nicholas Eames takes a huge departure from the typical fantasy novel. There are thousands of fantasy novels featuring adventurers and mercenaries and monsters, but after a while, many get very formulaic. That’s definitely not the case with Kings of the Wyld. First, Eames patterns mercenary bands after rock stars. The ‘bands’ act like bands. They ‘tour’ when out seeking glory or riches or both. Old ‘bands’ are better than new ‘bands’ and young people and old people argue which is better. It’s refreshing and hilarious.

This book is both serious and funny at the same time. The characters are serious, deep, and well developed. I found myself liking all of them, even the villains. In parts of the book, you’re really not sure who to root for. Would it be so terrible if the ‘bad guy’ won? For me, that’s the sign of a well done villain or antagonist.

And it’s funny. You will laugh out loud. Some of the shenanigans are exceptionally amusing, as is the dialogue.

The Wyld World

The world is also well realized. Eames paints a picture of a world dominated by human civilization but surrounded by a very wild Wyld. The beasts, monsters, and other characters the protagonists face throughout the story are also very well done. Nature itself is the adversary in many ways and as the characters traverse their many challenges, you feel the tension of the environment. You get a little on edge when the characters are plunged into an unpredictable wilderness. There were several ‘wild things’ that I wanted to read more about because I thought they were so cool, like the troll witch doctor.

Not everything is completely new. There are plenty of fantasy staples both in environments and monsters, but these are treated with a refreshing approach. I won’t spill any details here, but I promise you’ll really enjoy reading about Gregor and Dane.

I’m Looking Forward to Bloody Rose

I enjoyed reading Kings of the Wyld so much that I’m really excited to read Bloody Rose and I’m glad I bought both at the same time. If Bloody Rose lives up to its predecessor, I’m in for a treat. I will post another review when I finish the book.

Kings of the Wyld Book Review – In Closing

Thanks for sticking with me this far. If you enjoyed this Kings of the Wyld book review, take a look at some of my other book reviews. And if you think you might buy the books, please consider doing so through my Amazon links. It makes this site possible. Thanks!

Great Find: Tales From The SpacePort Bar

talesfromspaceportbarcover

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I stumbled into my local used bookstore yesterday and found this little gem of a book: Tales From the SpacePort Bar, by George H Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer.  is a collection of short stories. Each short story involves bar patrons spinning tales. The entire collection has a science fiction theme, as you’d expect based on the title.

The author list is a veritable who’s who of science fiction authors and includes: Larry Niven, Henry Kuttner, Isaac Asimov, Darrell Schweizer, Roger Zelazny, Spider Robinson, Janet O. Jeppson, and others. There are 22 stories in the book. You can pick up a used copy here. Unfortunately, it is not available as an e-book.

I ordered the sequel, Another Round at the Spaceport Bar, this morning–also used and unavailable as an ebook. If you like classic science fiction, I’d recommend picking up both while you can.

Amazon Links: Tales From The Spaceport Bar, Another Round at the Spaceport Bar

Book Review: The Sensuous Frazetta

The Sensuous Frazetta Front Cover
The Sensuous Frazetta Front Cover

I’m a huge Frank Frazetta fan. I’ve been a fan of his work since i was a teenager and bought my first Frazetta art, the art plate set from Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice animated film  in ’92 with $50 borrowed from a friend. If you haven’t seen it, you can stream it on Amazon Prime and I highly recommend it.  In the intervening years, I’ve built up a collection of Frank Frazetta art books like this one–The Sensuous Frazetta (hard cover) from Vanguard.  I will review my book collection on this blog and hopefully help readers make buying decisions.

Table of Contents of The Sensuous Frazetta
Table of Contents of The Sensuous Frazetta

So far, I don’t have any regrets about the Frazetta books I’ve bought, but I do have my favorites and this book is one of them.  This book focuses on Frank’s work from the 1960s when he was illustrating for risqué paperbacks and men’s magazines.  Frank wouldn’t achieve popularity for his barbarians and other fantasy work until years later.  However, one constant in Frazetta’s work, is the appeal and sensuality of his figures, particularly his women. With that in mind, It’s important to remember this was the 1960s and the intent was for publication in men’s magazine’s of the time and much of this work might not be commissioned today given modern norms.

Chapter One “Between The Sheets”

This chapter focuses on his paperback interiors and features multiple full page reproductions as well as behind the scenes material. The full page reproductions are very well done. Additionally, I appreciated the section about Frazetta’s use of photographic reference. Frank had a well known visual encyclopedia in his brain and could create very dynamic illustrations from memory without the aid of photographic reference materials. Therefore, it’s nice to see that he did, once in a while, use photographs.  It gives the rest of us artists hope.

Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Chapters Two and Three, “Romance & Cigarettes” and “Pretty Funny Women”

The chapters spend their pages on Frazetta’s sequential artwork.  These sections are fantastic if you like sequential art and give you a glimpse at Frazetta’s early work that you don’t  often see or read about.  The chapters are a reproduction of sequential stories with inked pages and colored pages opposite each other. This is great if you want to analyze Frank’s line work without the effects of early comic color reproduction.  For most Frank fans, this will be a study effort well spent.

Two-page sequential art spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page sequential art spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Two-page sequential art spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page sequential art spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Chapter Four “Saucy Stories”

This chapter contains sketches and full page reproductions of Frazetta’s illustrations for men’s magazines of the time. I particularly like the pen and ink illustrations. Frazetta had a great sense of humor and, of course, the characters in his drawings are magnificent.  The man resting on the giantess’s breasts on page 157 pictured below is one of my favorites for both the humor in the illustration (which is for a story by Charles Baudelaire published in Cavalcade magazine, November 1964) and the expression on both faces, but also the exquisite line work and details. I looked at this illustration many times before I noticed the cow and farmhouse in the frame. Did you?

Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Chapter Five “From Casting Couch to…”

This chapter is only seven pages, but full of illustrations that Frank did for movie studios. These are easily some of my favorite Frazetta works. His ability to catch perfect, slightly caricatured likenesses of the biggest stars of the time was marvelous.

Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Chapter Six “Stars in Her Eyes”

Chapters Six is very brief at a total of eight pages. The good news is each of the eight pages is more illustration than text with each of the zodiac signs imagined as a woman.

Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta
Two-page Spread from interior of The Sensuous Frazetta

Chapter Seven “On Top of the Covers”

Sadly, I don’t have the slipcased edition and therefore don’t get Chapter Seven  “On Top of the Covers” — this edition is out of print, so if you’re a die hard fan, take a look around the used market. At the time of this writing there is a new, unopened copy on eBay for about $110.  The extra chapter isn’t worth it to me, but might be to you.

The Sensuous Frazetta Back cover
The Sensuous Frazetta Back cover

Thanks for reading!  I hope this review was useful to you. Please support my page by clicking through to Amazon if you’re going to buy this book. Amazon throws a few pennies my way when you do — at no cost to you, of course.

If you’re so inclined, feel free to drop me a note on the Ogre Mail page with your thoughts.