Saturday, December 10, 2011

Phantasmal Tomes

By Dale E. Rippke

In 1970 a new fantasy character strode onto the stage of Heroic Fantasy. He was an immortal anti-hero called Kane, and his adventures were written by fantasy/horror author Karl Edward Wagner. Wagner wrote five actual books about Kane, three novels called Darkness Weaves, Bloodstone, and Dark Crusade and two short story collections, Death Angel's Shadow and Night Winds. What isn't as widely known is that at least four (and possibly as many as six) other books about Kane were in the planning stages by Wagner, but never completed. What follows is a look at those phantasmal tomes.

Black Eden

This book would have been the first novel in a trilogy examining who and what Kane actually was. This book would have been the story of Kane's origin. From information gleaned from the published saga it appears that it probably would have contained the creation of Mankind by its creator-god and it's placement in Paradise, Kane's rebellion and his murder of Abel, the aftermath (mankind scattered across the Earth) and Kane's recreation into the Bane of Man. The novel also would have possibly dealt with the rebellion of the Angels and Kane's role in the revolt, in large part a retelling of Milton's Paradise Lost. It would have ended with Kane's escape to Earth in a flying saucer, although this part may have actually been a part of the beginning of In the Wake of the Night. There are no written parts of this book in existence.

In the Wake of the Night

This book would have been the second novel in the trilogy examining who and what Kane actually was. Planned to be about 150,000 words, it was primarily concerned with Kethrid's voyages of discovery aboard the Yhosal-Monyr. Kane, for the first time, would not be the lead character in the book; Kethrid took that honor. He sailed around the oceans of Earth's dawn, searching for the ruined cities and lost technologies of the vanished races of Elder Earth. Kane, who has recently crashed on the Earth in a spacecraft, joins Kethrid on his voyages of discovery. Kane has decided that he must leave the Earth, find and kill his creator. The book was going to end in the (unsuccessful) launching of mankind's first spacecraft from the city of Carsultyal. Occasionally during sci-fi fantasy conventions Wagner would tell his friends one of several differing versions of the tale. Though at least several chapters of the book were written, all that remains today is an excerpt from the preface of In the Wake of the Night and a poem called Kethrid's Dream.

Silver Dagger

This was to have been a collection of revenge-themed short stories and novelettes that take place during several periods of history over Kane's immortal lifespan. Only two tales originally targeted for this proposed book exist, The Other One and the excellent Misericorde.

The Midnight Sun

This is a conjectural book. While a book of this title was never actually planned by Wagner, it would have eventually existed due to its contents. It would have been a collection of all of the modern-era horror tales featuring Kane. This collection probably would have taken its title from a poem within it by the same name. Besides The Midnight Sun there are several published short stories that would have appeared in it. There are two psychodramas, Lacunae and Deep in the Acme Warehouse. Another story called The Gothic Touch, which featured Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné would have been part of this collection.

At First Just Ghostly

This book would have been the third and final novel in the trilogy examining who and what Kane actually was. Planned to be about 100,000 words, only the first fifth of it was ever written. The book would have revolved around a war between Kane and the hostile forces of evil lead by Sathonys (Satan), as seen through the eyes of a man named Cody Lennox. Presumably at some point in the novel we would have learned how Kane was able to kill his creator. A novelette also called At First Just Ghostly comprises all that is left of what should have been the coda to the Kane Saga.


Not much information is known about this book. A publishing contract was made with Wagner in the early 80's commissioning this Kane novel. The book was never started and the content of it was never made clear. It's entirely possible that it is simply the work-in-progress title for Black Eden.

Phantasmal Tomes essay Copyright 2001-2012 by Dale E Rippke

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