Monday, January 1, 2018

Reflections on the Winter of My Soul

Cover art by Frank Frazetta

Wolves, werewolves, madness. A bard, a visitor, deep snow, and a baron's family. On New Year's Day, I finished the Kane novella, "Reflections on the Winter of My Soul" by Karl Edward Wagner. The story evokes Beowulf, with its great hall under siege by a great beast. But unlike Beowulf, the siege also contains a mystery or two: the household slaughter may be an inside job.

As with my previous Kane readings, I am using the recent five volume collection of Kane novels and short stories published by Centipede Press. This novella is in Death Angel's Shadow, which in its Centipede edition collects both early and late Kane stories. Since I am reading the Kane stories in the approximate order of Kane's life, I will be reading two more stories in this collection, and then switching to the third and final Kane novel, Darkness Weaves.

But back to the story. "Reflections" builds a bit slowly, although perhaps I am just distracted by other things I'm reading, and having a bit of reader's fatigue from having already read around 1,000 pages of Kane content (two novels, numerous short stories) over the last month. But that being said, around page 80, the novella really takes off, and maintains that pace for the last 30+ pages.

The story involves both investigation and combat, and could easily be adopted as a scenario for an RPG set in a far northern lands with isolated manors. I can already think of a way to use it with Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

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