Keith Taylor: Still Going Strong


Keith Taylor's birthday has rolled around once again. Keith informed me today that he's enjoying the anniversary of his nativity in his sunny hometown of Melbourne, Down Under. Rather than reviewing one of Keith's books--as I did last year--this year I thought I'd apprise the Gentle Readers of the DMR Blog of what Mr. Taylor is working on now and what his fans can look forward to in 2019.

Of foremost interest here at DMR Books is this announcement from Keith:

A bit of news I’ve just received. DMR Books likes my short story “The Man with the Evil Eye” [a tale of Palamides the Thracian, who appeared in the first Bard novel] and has accepted it for an anthology coming out in summer 2019. Palamides is a younger son from a family of great landowners in fifth-century Thrace. The Huns were no longer a menace and Attila was dead a few decades, but the Bulgars, pagan Slavs and Alans were still around causing endless trouble, and the Eastern Empire was caught in a permanent face-off with its only real rival, Sassanid Persia. 

Palamides with his two pals Chiron and Michael has just entered the elite corps of Excubitores (‘those out of bed” or “the watchful ones”). ”The Man With the Evil Eye,” harks back to Palamides’s late teens, and his friends were the same age. For a while they were sort of like the three musketeers of fifth-century Constantinople, when Anastasius was the Eastern Emperor and you could get into a deadly street brawl at any moment, day or night, if a religious argument blew up or someone didn’t like your politics, or even felt critical about the cut of your tunic.

Palamides (originally, in Arthurian legend, Palamedes or Palomides) first appeared in the 13th-century Prose Tristan, which the author or authors claimed was taken from an earlier Latin document. Far be it from me to say that was just a literary device of theirs! Anyway, he was said to be a son of the King of Babylon and even after his conversion he was known as Sir Palomides le Saracen, under which name appears in LE MORTE D’ARTHUR. My version of Palamides lived and died before Mohammed was born, but actually the word “Saracen” was in use already among the Greeks in the fifth century. It comes from Sarakenoi, “People of the Tents” and it was used to describe the Arab nomads. I’ve assumed Palamides got that nickname in his young days while serving on the Empire’s eastern frontier, and did the Lawrence of Arabia thing a bit with the Empire’s Arab allies.

Sounds cool, indeed! As always, we can expect a hard-charging tale of bloody mayhem and darkest sorcery from Taylor. However, the Palamides story isn't the only iron Keith has in the fire. Not by a long shot.

Now I get back to that short story about Kamose the Magician [which takes place immediately after the events in Servant of the Jackal God], set in the ancient Egyptian pilgrimage city of Abydos. The year is 1200 B.C., give or take a couple, and Kamose’s age is about a hundred and thirty eight. It’s early in the reign of Rameses III. This won’t be a spoiler, because the reader knows it from very early in the yarn, but Kamose is trying to get a line on these enemies of his who are trying to discredit him with Pharaoh, or preferably, if they can, just destroy him. 

One of the things I like about working with the character is that he uses different identities and disguises, to get around and check on his minions — and his enemies. This time he’s on his own doorstep, really, the traditional burial place of Osiris and great pilgrimage center, Abydos, posing as a pilgrim himself. A barber named Nebne. Barbers, then as now, heard all the gossip. Kamose mastered the skills of the trade long ago, with a number of others. When he goes undercover he does it thoroughly, and with his extended life span he’s had time to learn plenty.

It's always great to hear about new tales of Kamose in the offing, but Mr. Taylor has yet another tale which has been signed, sealed, delivered and accepted by a publisher. This one stars a protagonist that Robert E. Howard mentioned only in passing, but who has a direct connection to one of the most beloved REH sword-slingers...


"Rogue Blades Entertainment just accepted my story set in the Second Crusade! The title is "Stain of Blood". I happen to like the story so much that I'm determined to write a second one with that character, but if and when I find a market.

“The main character is Geoffrey the Bastard, who later, in Ireland, became the father of Cormac Fitzgeoffrey. At one point he jousts with a German knight, Seward von Kalmbach, clearly an ancestor of Gottfried von Kalmbach ("The Shadow of the Vulture"). And he partners Miles du Courcey (from "The Lion of Tiberias") in the same tournament.

“Tournaments circa 1150 were a lot less organized and polite than they had become a couple of centuries later. The jousts were minor preliminaries, just, and they were done without the protective barrier down the centre of the field we see in Hollywood movies. The main event was a mock battle, or not so mock, since men died in most of them, and they were essentially godless, undisciplined melees… from which you could make a good living in ransom and wagers, if you survived.

“I was always interested in the throwaway reference to Cormac FitzGeoffrey's dad, Geoffrey the Bastard, that REH made in "Hawks of Outremer" -- "a renegade Norman knight... in whose veins, it is said, coursed the blood of William the Conqueror." There are no stories about Geoffrey and that's all we're ever told about him by Howard. I'm about to remedy that lack. He's quite a bit more sophisticated and civilized than Cormac, coming as he does from the Norman conquerors of Sicily, a very cosmopolitan place back then. But quite a rogue still.

“Real historical characters include Eleanor of Aquitaine and Shirkuh the Mountain Lion."

Right. On. But wait, there's more!

"I also completed the revision of the weird novel DAMNED FROM BIRTH, immediate sequel to the REH story "The Thing on the Roof" with its unnamed narrator. (Not unnamed in the novel; I've given him a background, a family, and a fiancee. And some nasty enemies.)

“With the holiday season coming, I can't expect any word on DAMNED FROM BIRTH before the New Year, but it may be a hopeful sign that my agent Cherry has advised me to finish work on the characterization and planning notes for the sequel. I'd better be careful to avoid spoilers, but it shouldn't give too much away to say that, if it gets written. the sequel will largely take place in Natchez on the Mississippi in the year 1912, and will feature one of those good old decayed plantations (well, not all that decayed, the family living there is still rich). Some of the action and a lot of the situations vital to the plot center on a fabulous Mississippi showboat that plies its course from New Orleans to Natchez.

“There's also an ancient mound, and I mean really ancient, older than any known Native American culture, which the hero (now married to his girl) has to investigate, for -- well, for reasons. His brash, brawny kid brother, Brad, who only receives a mention or two in the first novel, plays a part in this one, flatly refusing to let Robert Quinn face danger without his backing. Brad's a car enthusiast and likes pretty girls. Being skeptical of weird stuff, he has a shock or two coming..."

So [crosses fingers], Keith Taylor fans have not one, but possibly two, novels of Lovecraftian pulp horror-adventure to look forward to. 2019 is setting up to be a great year. 


In the interest of (relative) brevity, I won't quote verbatim any more Taylorian communiques. I'll just say that Keith is lined up to review REH's "Red Nails" for Bob Byrne over at Black Gate in January, there may be a digital reprinting of all the Bard novels in the works and Keith is also working on a triptych of Lovecraftian tales featuring Edward the Black Prince. Oh, and he'd also really like to write some pirate tales starring Van Raven, who is mentioned in passing in REH's "Swords of the Red Brotherhood."

Gentle Readers, this is not a man who is resting on his laurels or who is anywhere near done making his mark in heroic fantasy.

All of the above quotes and factoids were gathered from the Keith Taylor Fan Group on Facebook and from the most excellent Swords of REH Forum. Keith stops by both pretty regularly. Feel free to join.