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January 28th, 2006

I recently finished Karl Edward Wagner's Nightwinds (NY: Warner Books, Inc.; 1978; July 1983 reprint; ISBN: 0-446-30812-9; mass market paperback; 286 pps.), a book of five short stories and one novella featuring Wagner's left-handed, red-headed, red-bearded, ice-blue-eyed anti-hero Kane (yes, he's the biblical Cain; his "killer eyes" are his mark); aside from the fact that the pieces all feature, to one degree or another, Kane, they are otherwise only loosely related to each other: indeed, one isn't quite sure that they even take place within a few years of each other, as Kane is immortal in the Asgardian manner (i.e., he doesn't age or ages verrrrrry slowly, but can, one presumes, be killed by sustaining enough physical damage).

The short stories are: "Undertow" (far and away the worst piece collected here), "Two Suns Setting," "The Dark Muse," "Lynortis Reprise" and "Sing a Last Song of Valdese;" the novella is Raven's Eyrie, and in this collection it falls between "The Dark Muse" and "Lynortis Reprise."

Some of the pieces are diverting enough, but, on the whole, I enjoyed it far less than I did Bloodstone (and I didn't give Bloodstone an unqualified thumbs-up either); I was irritated in several spots by the amateurishness of Wagner's prose, particularly as regards his over-reliance on exclamation points. He is evidently someone who can't write up to the strength of some of his concepts.

Full rundown, with some spoilerage.Collapse )

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