"Clay had the bright idea to block his attacker's next strike, shortly after the next strike." That's how battles typically go for Clay "Slowhand" Cooper, so nicknamed because he was never fast enough to land the first blow in a fight. Clay Cooper is the main PoV character and a member of the retired band of mercenaries, Saga. In a world where bands of adventurers are the equivalent of modern day rock stars, Saga was the OG band of mercs and the best of the best, before the whole industry became a side show. None of that matters though, since Clay is married now and all he cares about is his wife and daughter. So when Saga's old front man, Gabe, comes knocking on his door and explains why the band needs to get back together, Clay flatly refuses him and sends him away. Sure Gabe's daughter's life was in danger, but Clay has a daughter of his own, so what kind of father would he be if he just up and left?
If you are you tired of the main protagonist in your fantasy stories being a young "chosen one" who is just coming of age, then perhaps this is the book for you. With their glory days well behind them, Saga is a bunch of over the hill adventurers that needs to answer the call one more time to save the life of Gabe's daughter. They are a group of five very flawed men, making a series of unwise decisions, but doing so for all the right reasons. Yes this book is a bit male-centric as Saga is made up of all men, but there are also some badass, and equally flawed female antagonists. One of my favorites is Jain, leader of Lady Jain and the Silk Arrows, who manage to rob Clay and Gabe twice before they even get the whole band back together. Despite being a thief, Jain is one of the more honorable characters in the book, and I hope she re-appears later in the series. Supposedly the second book in the series, Bloody Rose, does a better job of female representation, but according to the author, you can expect those characters to be just as flawed as this time around.
This book does not take itself very seriously, and there are plenty of laughs and running gags throughout the story. One of which is that whenever they are reminiscing and talking about the glory days, Saga is often composed of six members, with the final member being a different bard each time. This is because the bard dies in just about every tale they tell, and Clay can never remember the bard's name, only how they happened to die that time. So if you are looking for a fantasy tale that is a little different from the typical YA "chosen one" coming of age, then this is work your time for sure.
The audiobook version is narrated by Jeff Harding and he does a good job with all the different voices, especially Clay Cooper. Definitely worth listening to.