The Black Knight

The Black Knight by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Lords of Angilbert have been a thorn in the side of the Kings of Azakoria for decades, refusing to pay taxes or to accept the authority of the throne.

King Kurval of Azakoria inherited the conflict with the Black Knight of Angilbert from his predecessor. Determined to bring the Black Knight to heel once and for all, Kurval besieges Castle Angilbert. But when he finally comes face to face with the mysterious Black Knight, he’s in for a shock.

The law demands that the Black Knight be executed for treason. However, Kurval does not want to sentence the Black Knight to death, especially once he learns that the Lords of Angilbert have a very good reason to hate the Kings of Azakoria.

But is it even possible to find a peaceful solution or can the feud with the Black Knight of Angilbert end only in bloodshed and death?

The new sword and sorcery adventure by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert and her occasional alter ego, 1930s pulp writer Richard Blakemore. This is a novella of 33400 words or approx. 112 print pages in the Kurval series but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Warning: This is a dark story, which contains scenes of a violent and sexual nature.

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More information:

  • The Black Knight is a sword and sorcery novella of 33500 words or approximately 112 print pages in the Kurval series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • My other sword and sorcery series, the Thurvok stories, sit on the lighter end of the sword and sorcery spectrum, in spite of plenty of monsters, skeletons and resurrected corpses, and closer to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser (though there are plenty of dark Leiber stories as well) than to Conan and Jirel of Joiry. The Kurval stories are more Robert E. Howard, particularly the Kull stories and three King Conan stories (“The Phoenix on the Sword”, “The Scarlet Citadel” and “The Hour of the Dragon”).
  • The Black Knight is also strongly influenced by C.L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry stories, which I reread shortly before writing this story.
  • Even though the Kurval series is sword and sorcery, there is no supernatural element in this story. The evil is wholly human.
  • We learn more about Kurval’s background in “The Black Knight” and also more about Ragur Falgune and his family.
  • The “hellish device” that Ungolf builds is a Spanish garrotte, though I couldn’t use that term, because it is linked to a specific time and place in Earth history. So it is simply referred to as “execution chair”, though the description make it very clear what it is.
  • Because I had only a vague idea of how a Spanish garrotte works, I watched some clips of garrotte executions from Spanish movies, mostly historical dramas, on YouTube. One thing I noticed is that the garrotte prop inevitably squeaked, as if it wasn’t properly greased. This eventually found its way into the story.
  • An actual 1930s pulp story wouldn’t have contained an open door sex scene – sexual content is the pulps is either described very vaguely and euphemistically or only alluded to. However, I felt that the scene was important for the characterisation of both Kurval and Adeliz, so I left the door open.
  • Unlike most of my other stories, the Kurval series is credited to Richard Blakemore, whom regular readers will recognise as the pulp writer protagonist of the Silencer series. As for why my sword and sorcery fiction is credited to Richard Blakemore, in the Silencer story Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Richard purchases the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales and is pleased to find a new instalment of a Conan serial by Robert E. Howard, a Jirel of Joiry novelette by C.L. Moore, a Jules de Grandin novelette by Seabury Quinn as well as one of Margaret Brundage’s famous covers. He also muses that he would like to take a stab at writing something like that one day. This throwaway scene got me thinking, “What if Richard actually did write a sword and sorcery series for Jake Levonsky?”
  • When I found myself writing what would become the first Thurvok adventure for the July short story challenge sometime later, I suddenly wondered, “What if this was Richard Blakemore’s lost sword and sorcery series?” And so I decided to credit the story to Richard and pass myself off as the editor who rediscovered him. I even created a blog, a Twitter account and an Amazon author page for Richard and filled out a Smashwords interview in his persona.
  • The cover is stock art by Tithi Luadthong.
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