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KANEThe Mystic Swordsman Becomes The Living Link With The Awesome Power Of A Vanished Super RaceIn The Dark Swamp Where Toadmen Croak And Cower, Slumbers An Ancient Relic Of The Days When Creatures From The Stars Ruled The Earth In The Booty Captured In A Savage Raid, Kane Discovers A Ring, A Bloodstone, Which Is The Key To The Power That Lies Buried, Inactive But Not Dead, Within The ForestNow Kane, Whose Bloddy Sword Has Slashed And Killed For The Glory Of Other Rulers, Can Scheme To Rule The Earth Himself KANEis A New Super Hero Part Savage, Part Savant Whose Diamond Sharp Sword Cuts Through Time And Darkness To Reveal A Mindbending New World As I understand it, this was the first Kane novel that Wagner wrote, although not the first published The character seems to still be developing somewhat here and I didn t think the book was quite as good as some of the later novels Still, it was very enjoyable. 5.0 to 5.5 stars This is the first time I have read a Kane novel by Karl Edward Wagner and I am kicking myself for not having read him sooner This is sword and sorcery action at its best and Kane has instantly become one of my favorite characers Best way I can describe Kane is to call him Robert E Howard s Conan if Conan were immortal and completely amoral This lack of morals okay let s just call him a bad guy is largely the result of Kane immortality Kane is VERY, VERY OLD and his extended life has left him unable to form lasting attachments to people Plus, having long experienced all that life has to offer, many times over, has left him bored and jaded Thus, he spends his time trying to keep himself entertained, which usually involves fighting, starting wars, hatching evil schemes and generally causing a lot of death and dismemberment to those around him I found it very cool to be able to follow around the bad guy as the main character and finding yourself both cheering for and against him In addition to Kane himself, the world he inhabits is rich with history and peopled with diverse races both human and non human This world building is superb and could be the source of endless tales I am certainly going to read the rest of the Kane stories and HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one I enjoy KEW s writing each time I read it He quickly sketches the world, diving right into the action keeping it up throughout It s amazing how well he describes the fantastic I can easily envision the horrible swamps almost feel the flies biting The characters are really well drawn with impeccable motivations yet there is nothing simplistic about them, especially Kane What a fantastic character He s got a line on something new, a very big deal to the immortal He s lived so long that the hope of anything new is a great draw as is power I d say his schemes are Machiavellian, but Kane is the elder probably gave him lessons I m reading this after the first 3 stories in the Centipede Press edition of Night Winds so I can read all the stories in chronological order You can find them in my review here makes very fine books, sheer pleasure to read Great illustrations.If this is your first Kane book, go ahead read it Not a bad introduction, although I like the short stories the best There s not a real need to read them in chronological order. What are you, Kane man or demon I ve been called both, though both races have damned me often enough And I claim neither although once men called me brother Note this is my first try to insert an image into a review I hope it works, because Frank Frazetta did a great job in capturing the essence of Kane the immortal hero cursed to leave destruction in his wake for all eternity.This is my third Kane book by Karl Edward Wagner I ve been trying to read them in order, but any one of these first three can be a starting point for new readers They are consistently good, in their pulpy adventure way This time the adventure is spiced up with slithering giant snakes, batrachian swamp waariors, chimaeras made of ectoplasm, virgins maidens tied naked on altars of sacrifice, bloody battles against supernatural enemies and evil entities coming out of slumber to conquer the world It doesn t sound very original or very enticing in synopsis, but Wagner is a real master at infusing the story with a brooding atmosphere, creating a mythical world rich in history and races, as dangerous and filled with adventure as The Hyborian Age chronicled by Robert E Howard or the world of Newhon by Fritz Leiber.The epic journey of the bloodstone starts with a ring adorned with a precious gemstone of dark green veined with blood red streaks I have one of these in my gem collection, I hope it will not start controlling my mind any night soon Kane follows the trail of the stone through ancient manuscripts to a ruined city lost in the swapms Arelarty a collossal mausoleum to an ancient race destroyed in a war forgotten by history books The theme gives the novel a post apocalyptic vibe, unearthing the misteries and technologies of what appears to be an alien people who have regressed back into savagery Kane contemplates from this the possible future of human civilizationI wonder how mankind would fare, should some cosmic disaster blast our civilization into forgotten rubble Perhaps we would return to the trees and caves of our bestial ancestors skulking apemen that a mad creator s folly transformed into men and not even legend would remember the dead majesty of our race While the chapter dealing with the re discovery of the ancient city and its dark secret is one of the best I ve read so far by Wagner, a lot of the book is told from the perspective of Teres a valkyrie maiden born and bred to the sword who is caught up in Kane s machinations of fomenting war between two neighboring kingdoms I liked the way her story arc developed, how she is not the passive scantily clad eye candy that looks good on the book cover and easily swoons into the arms of the brawny hero She is like Red Sonja than a damsel in distress Her interaction with Kane offers an opportunity for one of his best speeches when she mentions that immortality is not considered a curseWhat do mortals know Flesh can heal, but the soul can be scarred To be doomed to wander through eternity branded an outcast, no land to call home, no man to name friend Whatever he seeks to love to grasp slips through his embrace inevitably Age consumes the bones of his hope The loneliness Only memories, cold phantoms to torture his dreams And the hideous, smothering boredom that creeps stifling with each decade, as the taste of life s frantic delights and transient interests grows stale and dry upon his spirit When she is shocked by Kane s amoral atitude and bloodthirsty temper, he replies with one of the most revealing quotes regarding why Kane is the focus of the epic he is meant to challenge us to think for ourselves and not accept blindly archaic notions about good and evilAnd by what sanctity do your cherished values stand pristine from the tide of challenging ideas Even than Conan the Barbarian, Kane is a Force of Nature, beyond good or evil, right or wrong He is not driven by an intrinsic sense of justice, but by the need for survival in a cruel world, and by the call of adventure and new experiments to relieve the boredom of immortality.Karl Edward Wagner may occasionaly go overboard in saturating his text with lurid adjectives bufanoid and rubrous had me diving for a dictionary but I am looking forward to my next sword and sorcery offering from him.