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DanSchwent

Dantastic Book Reviews

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Gods in Darkness: The Complete Novels of Kane - Karl Edward Wagner If you have a craving for pulp style fantasy, look no further. Gods in Darkness is a good set of stories, a delightful blend of Howard and Moorcock, and Kane is what would happen if Conan and Elric were able to mate successfully.

Later:
Kane's a red haired immortal barbarian, cast out of a garden paradise-prison by a mad god, destined to wander the earth until he dies by violence.

I'll review Bloodstone since it's the one I remember the most:
The story starts out with a bang. Kane's a member of a gang of bandits. The Bloodstone of the title appears in the Bandit's haul one day. Kane winds up slaying most of the gang of bandits after the leader rejected his offer of foregoing his share of the treasure in exchange for the ring.

The larger back story of Bloodstone is that two kingdoms are at war. Kane's dealing both sides and not playing honest with either. Without giving too much away, after a few betrayals Kane's true intentions become known, as are the powers of the Bloodstone and why Kane was so keen on possessing it. Unfortunately for Kane, he gets a little more than he bargained for. That sums it up nicely without giving too much away.

Now for the writing. I thought Karl Edward Wagner's writing would be breezier, ala Fritz Leiber. It's more like Robert E. Howard's; dense and robust. It's like eating a steak rather than the salad that comprises a lot of fantasy these days. The settings and monsters feel more like Moorcock and Lovecraft than Howard's but that just lends to the overall creepiness. Twists abound and you find yourself wondering how things are going to play out, a far cry from the usual "Slay the big baddie and/or destroy this artifact" sprawling quest you've all read so many times already.