Steve's Reviews > Night Winds

Night Winds by Karl Edward Wagner
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Apr 15, 12

bookshelves: pulp, sci-fi-and-fantasy
Read from April 10 to 14, 2012

Not quite the home run I was expecting from this hard-to-get classic, but still pretty darned good. Kane, to date, is the best post Conan type I've run across. He has his own distinct personality (even though that can be hard to pin down, since he's a bundle of paradoxes), as well as a very distinct look: flaming red hair, relatively shore (6 ft), and built like a refrigerator (300 lbs!). The stories in this collection (the first Kane stories I've read), are apparently the last in the series. Wagner creates a number of memorable characters beyond Kane, and leaves hints that at some point they may show up again. It's too bad Wagner died, because the possibilities for Kane (since he's sort of immortal) are endless.

My edition contains 6 stories. A few brief comments.

Undertow. I had some trouble getting into this, due to Wagner's choppy delivery. The story is circular in its telling, and involves Kane's lover, Dessylyn, who is not what she seems. Love hurts. The ending is really sad, and I felt redeemed the structure of the tale.

Two Suns Setting. Kane and a giant go digging in a cave for Giant treasure and glory. But something else is in the cave. This straightforward story was one of my favorites in the collection. Reminded me a great deal of Howard.

The Dark Muse. This one also struck me as a bit choppy, but it's also revealing in that it shows Kane as anything but a thug. In this one he shows himself a friend of literature, willing to help out a struggling poet. Sounds very un-Kane, but there's more than enough carnage. This story is probably the collection's central story, for it's here that the title "Night Winds" is found. The payoff in this one was excellent, and also reminded me of Howard -- at his best.

Raven's Eyrie. This might be my favorite in the collection. Kane is wounded and on the run. He finds himself returning to the scene of one his crimes, to find a daughter he didn't know of, and a woman with a serious Hate. Thrilling, and sad.

Lynortis Reprise. Kane saves a woman fleeing across an old battlefield that sounds like Verdun! You'll see. The WW 1 vibes are deliberate, and Wagner's imagination is outstanding here.

Sing a Last Song of Valdese. Meh. Kane is barely present, and compared to the other stories in the collection, this one comes across as slight.



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