After her dramatic rescue from Castia by her father, Golden Gabe, and his band, Saga, Bloody Rose has formed a new band of her own. When a local tavern girl named Tam joins as the bard, the group sets out for one last tour of Grandual’s arenas. While every band in the land heads north to confront a hoard of monsters gathering in the mountains, Rose, Tam, and the rest of Fable head for a backwater duchy to fulfill a contract for a mysterious patron. Needless-to-say the stakes go through the roof and hijinks ensue.
Kings of the Wild and Bloody Rose are unquestionably high-concept stories. They are based around the premise that in the world of Grandual adventuring parties have the stardom of 80’s rock bands. I wouldn’t call this a gimmick, because honestly it’s a fucking delight in Kings of the Wyld. Of course, by the second installment, some of the novelty has warn off. Eames wisely dialed down the hair band puns in Bloody Rose, so while the book is missing a little of that X-factor that made Kings so popular, this installment moved forward on the best possible footing.
Bloody Rose is well plotted and fast paced. Despite a page count on the hefty side for most genres, the story develops quickly and takes a few turns, that while not really plot twists, are enough to keep things from being too predictable.
The strength of this novel is in the characters. One might expect that a humorous novel tying together Dungeons and Dragons with rock bands might bank on the concept at the expense of great characters. Not at all the case. Tam has a believable and interesting arc, and each character has a meaningful relationship not only with her, but the rest of the band too. The group is stronger together, and their quirks and collective journey form the real meat of this novel.
Bloody Rose is an epic adventure told with humor and heart. Readers who enjoyed Kings of the Wyld will surely enjoy this book too. In the end I think Kings is a better book overall, but they are both a delight. I love this series. It’s just a fun read. On a personal note, I read these books after two separate lay-offs due to the covid pandemic. These books were exactly what I needed. So if you are looking for a chunky fantasy series that will keep you smiling page after page, Eames is your guy.