Books That Made Us Cry: Kings of the Wyld
*Disclaimer: This article contains significant spoilers for Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. If you haven’t read it yet, go away, buy it, read it, and then, AND ONLY THEN, come back and read this article. You have been warned…*
‘The best stories make you feel, question or consider something about yourself’. I said this in passing, and ended up posting it on social media. At the time, it sounded like something reasonably bright and somewhat witty to my own ears, but the more those words have rattled around in my head, the more I’ve thought about them.
And why did I say them in the first place? Because Nicholas Eames made me cry.
It’s no secret, but his debut Kings of the Wyld stormed into my favourite fantasy books of all time. Besides how good a story it is, how familiar but fresh-faced the characters are, and how rich the world he introduces us to is, the fact that Eames made me feel, question and consider something not only about the world we live in, but also myself, is a testament to how great writing can impact our lives.
Sure, KotW is funny – every chapter is loaded with jokes, and I laughed all the way through. And like I said, I cried. Damn you, Eames, you made me cry for the first time in a long time. The last books that made me cry were Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson and John Gwynne’s Faithful & the Fallen series. Kings of the Wyld, though? I cried not once, but twice because of this damned book!
SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK YET, STOP! DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER! THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING.
The first time I cried was when Moog’s condition was revealed to Matrick. Moog, having contracted the rot is doomed to a slow, painful death, which cannot be stopped. Ironically, or tragically as I prefer it, Moog’s husband succumbed to the rot years ago, and Moog has been searching for a cure to the disease since then. In short, think of this as cancer.
Matrick is Moog’s very best friend. They’re the loveable buddy-comedy duo, quick-witted yet witless, full of love and life. They’ve been through thick and thin, but more importantly, they’ve been through everything. And because of that, Moog doesn’t want Matrick to find out that he has the rot.
So when Matrick does eventually find out…
I bawled, alright? I cried. And it’s not just because it’s a well written piece, it’s because Eames brought that scene to life. I read fantasy for the escapism it provides, but also because it can take the most fantastical things and make them real. Sure, Matrick and Moog might be fictional characters, one of which has contracted a fictional disease, in a fictional world – but for me, it was all suddenly very, very real.
This has happened to me – well, a group of friends and me. A close group of friends, some of which had been hiding a secret for another. The secret? The person in question, the one whose secret everyone was hiding? He had cancer, and he didn’t want to tell us because he didn’t want to upset us. And when we did eventually find out . . . well, it went down almost exactly how Eames wrote it. In the space of a page, Eames nails this type of revelation so, so, so hard. Even thinking about it again after reading it choked me up to the point that I had to ring those old friends.
And the second time I cried? The end. Oh god, how I didn’t want this book to end, but when it did . . . there are no words.
And before, between, beyond these tearful moments in the book, I smiled, laughed, shook my head and cursed. There’s a certain kind of magic in books, stories, words. As the saying goes: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones…’; but in this instance, words will always make me feel.
It might sound like I’m fawning over this book, and Eames as a writer. And you know what? I am. I fell in love with Kings of the Wyld and how it made me feel, what it made me think. Have you ever heard the phrase, as a writer, ‘write the book you would want to read’ (or words to that effect)? THIS is the book I want to read. And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t write it because that meant I got the chance to read it.
This article appeared on Fantasy-Faction on April 7, 2017.