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Bloody rose by Nicholas Eames

Bloody rose (edition 2018)

by Nicholas Eames

Series: The Band (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
16510114,044 (4.22)11
"A standalone adventure featuring a band of female mercenaries in the world of Kings of the Wyld from author Nicholas Eames, who has been hailed as "the voice of modern fantasy" by Michael R. Fletcher. Live fast, die young. Tam Hashford has always dreamed of living through glory days of her own. With a renowned mercenary for a mother and an illustrious bard for a father, battles and adventure seem the only way to really live. So when she learns that the most revered mercenary crew in Grandual is in need of a bard, she grabs her lute and goes on tour. Led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam and her new band embark on a mission that will earn them everlasting fame -- or certain death"--… (more)
Title:Bloody rose
Authors:Nicholas Eames
Info:New York : Orbit, 2018.
Collections:Your library
Tags:audiobook, fantasy, fantasy-bingo-2018, i-might-try-it-again-some-time

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Bloody Rose (The Band) by Nicholas Eames



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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
After the breath of fresh air that was Kings of the Wyld, Nicholas Eames' second book descends disappointingly into the more clichéd writing of the contemporary fantasy genre. It seems like it has been rushed to meet a publishing deadline, and panders to the book-blogging crowd rather than building intelligently on the strengths of the first book. The eager-to-please Eames might have been listening to the wrong sort of feedback; the whole thing smacks of YA, and the more I think about the book, the less I like it.

It was entertaining for the most part, as I had a lot of goodwill left over from Kings of the Wyld, but I was already dulled to Bloody Rose's charms long before the drawn-out battle which consumes the final hundred pages or so. The comedy is less relaxed and the camaraderie is more artificial, more (yes) YA. Put simply, the band dynamics are not there, and none of the characters are as interesting as those from the first book. The men are usually hapless oafs who need to be bailed out by the women, who are all lithe and beautiful yet able to out-fight and out-talk the men, while rolling their eyes. Kickass women and emasculated men seem to be what the audience demands these days, sadly, but it's becoming a hackneyed cliché in our increasingly pathological culture. There's even an absurd push for 'social justice for monsters' building throughout the book, with Eames sabotaging his own concept (good old monster-fighting in the Heartwyld) to make a superficial point. Plenty of people like to chug on YA do-goodery, and it's done wonders for Eames' standing among the bloggers, but it's just not, well, very rock 'n' roll.

Even leaving aside the playing to the gallery and the misfiring characterisation, the averageness of the book looms. The sex talk is all of the clumsy, wink-wink nudge-nudge variety, and Eames' intermittent attempts at profound writing fall flat because of their own importance. The plot chunters along predictably, with some of the major plot pivots (I'm thinking the opening of Chapter 54 here) being almost insulting. The two major character deaths in the book are both disappointingly cheap; I could see the one at the end coming as early as Chapter 25 (and when it comes, it is very poorly done), whilst the one in Chapter 43 was so limp, at first I thought it was a fake-out with the Bard's magic juice thing from earlier (the potion that made people look dead). Characters from the previous book who appear in this one are treated rather shabbily, and the world-building is less inspired (drawing heavily on some of its more narmy contents, such as the skyships).

Bloody Rose deserves, to be honest, more good words said about it than I have given it in this review. But, as I said, the more I think about the book, the less I like it. It is less original than its predecessor, with some underwhelming story choices, but it is still a good adventure. The pages turn easily and, despite its idiosyncrasies, it is easy to keep track of everything. Hopefully Eames can rediscover his Kings of the Wyld mojo, and if the tame Bloody Rose was what he needed to kick out the jams, so be it. ( )
  Mike_F | Feb 1, 2020 |
Though a good successor to King's of Wyld, I could not find the same chemistry between the characters evident in the first novel of the series. It was also lacking the word play, the panache, the humour of the first installment.

That said, Nicholas Eames has carved out a niche for himself in this genre and the series is here to stay. ( )
  jaeger84 | May 26, 2019 |
A worthy sequel when most sequels disappoint. ( )
  muwaffaq | Mar 20, 2019 |
4 & 1/2 STARS

I received this novel from Orbit Books through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review: my thanks to both of them for this opportunity.

Bloody Rose's predecessor, Kings of the Wyld, was one of the best debuts I read last year, and one I still think about with great fondness, so that I was looking forward to its sequel, especially since I knew it would not feature the same characters as the first book in the series and therefore I could look forward to meeting a totally new set of people, which made this story even more intriguing.

Tam Hashford has heard of the epic feats of traveling bands all her life: her own parents were part of one, and her mother died at the hands (or paws, or claws, or whatever…) of one of the monsters her band faced. Because of this, Tam's father chose to lead a quieter life, trying to erase from his daughter any yearning for adventures and heroic gestures, being tragically aware of the kind of price exacted by those 'adventures'. But it's difficult to steer away a young person from dreams of heroic deeds: on the contrary, any kind of interference can only manage to steel their resolve, so that when Fable, the band led by Bloody Rose, comes to Tam's village, she manages to get enrolled as their bard.

The members of Fable are a mixed and intriguing bunch: there is Rose of course, whose fate in besieged Castia caused her father Gabe to reunite his old band Saga to save her; Rose's right hand and lover is the druin Stormcloud, while the rest of the group is made up by Roderick (a satyr trying to hide his nature under outlandish clothes), Cura (an inkwitch, able to summon the most incredible creatures from the tattoos drawn on her skin), and Brune, the shaman (meaning he can sham into an animal shape, apparently a bear - even though the story is more complicated here…).

The world changed considerably in the years after the events depicted in Kings of the Wyld though, and the exploits of bands don't concern the removal of dangerous creatures anymore: the bands now fight only in the arenas, and more often than not it's more of an act than a true fight, where the "monsters" are mostly underfed mongrels, all bark and almost no bite, captured for the purpose of making the bands look good, especially through the bards' retelling and embellishments. This makes for a very different kind of tone in respect of the previous book: where Kings of the Wyld was a delightfully weird romp focused on putting the members of Saga back together, and their adventures always had a patina of tongue-in-cheek fun despite the seriousness of their goal, here the story is pervaded by a creeping sense of melancholy, of the awareness of a world gone forever that tries to cling to its past glories but only manages to show the surface appearance of it, without real underlying substance.

It takes only a few days on the road to start divesting Tam of all her starry-eyed notions about the life of a band, and soon enough the days all seem like a boring repetition, just like the story seems to move at a very slow pace, in what felt for me like a very different experience from the previous book: Iittle by little, however, I started to get to know these characters, and to perceive their strong bond, the sense of family that kept them together. I believe that the sense of detachment I experienced at first came from Tam's p.o.v.: she is of course the outsider - just as the reader is - and she needs to integrate in the group, to know them and to be known by them in turn. That's the moment when I became truly invested in the story, and that was also the moment when it took a very serious turn, a deadly serious turn, indeed…

I've come to believe that with the slow-burn beginning the author choose quite craftily to lull his readers into a false sense of sameness, so that he could better spring his surprise, a terrifying surprise that imbued the story with such a sense of inescapable doom that I literally flew through the rest of the novel in the attempt to relieve the anxiety I felt for the fate of the characters - therefore realizing that I had come to care for each of them deeply. That's why it was so hard for me to come to terms with the high price that some of the events entailed - I will not say more about it, since it's a huge spoiler, but I confess I did not expect it, and it still hurts…

Bloody Rose probes into several important issues, like perception of self and the need to fulfill one's goals irrespective of whatever kind of pressure (parental or otherwise) is exerted on an individual; or again the concept of courage and the necessity to find it inside us rather than trying to borrow it from external sources. But where this story truly excels is in depicting the sense of family, of a group of people who are each scarred in their own way by past experiences, and yet manage to turn their flaws into a useful tool for the good of the group, understanding that the family they found among themselves is worth any kind of sacrifice, no matter how high.

In the end, everybody is transformed - either because they have changed in the course of the story (like Tam, who goes from a self-effacing village girl to a more assertive person), or because they have changed in the eyes of the reader, who comes to know - and appreciate - them better, and if that development takes a harrowing journey that leaves too many casualties along the way, it's a trip worth making thanks to the skills of the storyteller. Which is the reason I will forgive him for bringing tears to my eyes with the final surprise at the end of the book….

Originally posted at SPACE and SORCERY BLOG ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Dec 25, 2018 |
Two books into his career and it’s safe to say that Nicholas Eames is one of the most exciting new voices in fantasy. Bloody Rose takes us back to the Wyld where mercenaries are treated like rock bands and fight monsters in arenas as well as take on contracts to kill monsters in the wilderness.

Tam Hashford is bored with life in her sleepy little village and dreams of adventure. When the mercenary band Fable comes through town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam sees her chance. Fable just happens to need a bard and Tam is the daughter of one of the Wyld’s most famous ones. Rose agrees to take her on, but Fable isn’t headed to fight the new horde which has once again gathered to threaten the country. Instead, they are headed in the opposite direction to take on a mysterious contract that Rose will divulge few details about. Tam will either get the adventure and glory she has been seeking or she won’t live long enough for it to matter.

Eames has a special talent for creating compelling characters with real depth. His world-building is outstanding and his plot is always moving forward. The real skill is balancing an exciting plot with significant character development. The story doesn’t just plunge from battle to battle but includes reflective moments that shine a light both on the characters internal development as well as the morality of the world in which they live. One of the most interesting themes of this book is, what really makes a monster? That these characters have to overcome both external and internal obstacles really elevates this book to another level.

Eames brings a rock music sensibility to these books along with a nice mix of sarcastic humor and real drama. Much like actual rock stars, their stories are often told by those around them. In this case that includes not only Tam but the other bandmates, Cura, Brune and Freecloud. He takes the time to let you get to know all his characters so that even those bent on complete destruction stir up at least a little sympathy. Bloody Rose is a must read for any lover of fantasy and Eames is an author whose every book is one to look forward to.

The audio version is narrated by Katherine Fenton who absolutely nails the wide variety of characters. Mood is an important part of this book and Fenton conveys that with her inflection and pacing. She also captures the humor inherent in the story. Narrating this book is a tall task as it ranges from battle scenes to music to humor to contemplative reflection. Fenton navigates this all unobtrusively, complementing the story but not overpowering it. Highly recommended.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. ( )
  tottman | Dec 11, 2018 |
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For my brother, Tyler.
If this book is worthy of you,
it's because you made it so.
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Tam's mother used to say she had a Wyld Heart.
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