Karl Edward Wagner - Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane (Night Shade Books 2003, 439 p., hc)
Cover by Ken Kelly
Stephen Jones: Raising Kane - (2003) - essay Death Angel's Shadow (1974) poem Undertow (1977) Two Suns Setting (1976)
The Dark Muse (1975) Sing a Last Song of Valdese (1976) Misericorde (1983) Lynortis Reprise (1974) Raven's Eyrie (1977) Reflections for the Winter of My Soul (1973) Cold Light (1973) Mirage (1973) The Other One (1977) The Gothic Touch (1994) Midnight Sun (1974) poem Lacunae (1986) Deep in the Depths of the Acme Warehouse (1994) At First Just Ghostly (1989) The Treasure of Lynortis (1997) In the Wake of the Night (1981) (variant of In the Wake of the Night: An Excerpt) The Once and Future Kane (1975) essay
This has been talked about a few times, so it is time to give it its own thread. This is the complete short stories and novellas of Wagner's fantasy hero Kane. As with all of the Night Shade books I have this is a nice and well-made hardcover.
Kane as a character is described as a really big guy with red hair and a cursed immortal. And he broods a lot. It is never really spelled out in one of those boring origin stories, but it is implied that he was cursed by God to wander the earth because he is a killer and a sorcerer. (Basically he is the biblical Cain.) Kane's world is a mythical world and the stories have no easy to recognize chronology. Often Kane is a leader of bandits or a mercenary.
Undertow: this short story is told from the perspective of the young girl Dessylyn, Kane's ex who wants to escape from him, and her lover Mavrsal, who wants to help her. It ends badly for them, but the story ends with a great and unforseen grim twist.
The Dark Muse: Opyros is a decadent poet (in the vein of a Clark Ashton Smith character) who would die for his art. He hangs out with Kane, who his one of the crime bosses of the city. When he finds an idol of Klinure, the muse of dreams, Kane is interested. But he has all hands full with a gang feud, and his opponent summons a demon. Opyros in the meantime tries to summon the dark muse and succeeds. He writes his master work called Night Winds, but it doesn't end well for him.
I was always fascinated by the idea that a piece of art or writing really is too much for a mortal mind to bear; it is an old lovecraftian trope. This is clever and IMHO successful variation of the idea.
Reflections for the Winter of My Soul: Kane is on the run from same hunters out for his blood. It is the midst of winter and wolves are about. He seeks shelter in a fortified manor house. Here Baron Troylin of Carrasahl has gathered his family and retainers. Basically he is protecting his mad son from his peers. While a blizzard rages, a werewolf seems to stalk the manor and Kane is in the midst of the bloody fighting.
This is a long novella and one of the best Kane stories.
Here is another original edition with half of the stories.
Night Winds (Warner Books, 1978, 286 p.)
Cover by Frank Frazetta
Undertow Two Suns Setting The Dark Muse Raven's Eyrie Lynortis Reprise Sing a Last Song of Valdese