Algernon's Reviews > Darkness Weaves

Darkness Weaves by Karl Edward Wagner
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's review
Dec 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read in December, 2011

Superb Cover. I've been meaning to read this ever since I saw a Kane illustration gallery on a Frank Frazetta site. while the florid language feels at times dated and I miss the humor from Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and Grey Mouse series, I must admit that Karl Edward Wagner has style and can weave a truly disturbing tale in a rather tight package.

I don't generally respond well to cynical world views and bloodthirsty heroes, but Kane has made a strong impression after only one book. While he is in some ways related to Conan or Fafhrd as a brawny barbarian killing machine, I think he should be considered separately for his special abilities, including magical talents and for his biblical backstory that is only hinted at in this first showing. I also think Tempus from Thieves World and Logen Nine fingers may have been inspired by Kane.

The actual events in Darkness Weaves start as a classic sword and sorcery tale, with a meeting in a disreputable tavern between a drunken assassin and a nobleman in disguise, go from here to a tale of island empires in turmoil, love, treason and plots for revenge. Magical forces come to play a greater role in the second half of the book, builting up to a cataclysmic final confrontation that curiously made me think of Shakespearean tragedies, where wars decide not who wins but who is left to contemplate the desolation and to meditate on the darkness inherent to human nature.

I would recommend this as required reading for any student of sword & sorcery and horror genres.
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Quotes Algernon Liked

Karl Edward Wagner
“Men told that Kane was a giant in stature, more powerful than ten strong men. In battle no man could stand before him, for he fought with a sword in either hand - wielding easily weapons that another warrior could scarcely lift. His hair was red as blood, and he feasted on the still-beating hearts of his enemies. His eyes were the eyes of Death himself, and they cast a blue flame that could shrivel the souls of his victims. His only delight was in rapine and slaughter, and after each victory his banquet halls echoed with the tortured screams of captive maidens.”
Karl Edward Wagner, Darkness Weaves

Karl Edward Wagner
“In their castle beyond night
Gather the Gods in Darkness,
With darkness to pattern man's fate.

The colors of darkness are no monotonous hue -
For the blackness of Evil knows various shades,
Full many as Evil has names.

Vengeance and Madness, inseparable twins,
Born together and worshipped as one;
Nor can the Gods tell one from his brother.

In their castle beyond night
Gather the Gods in Darkness
And darkness weaves with many shades.”
Karl Edward Wagner, Darkness Weaves

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