Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Taylor, Keith

(1946-    ) Australian writer whose work is primarily Celtic Fantasy. His best-known character is Felimid mac Fal, an Irish Bard, descended from both the Druids and the ancient Fairy race of the Tuatha de Danann. With the aid of his harp, Felimid can create magic and control the forces of nature (> Music). This is the main fantasy element in a series basically rooted in the historical reality of 6th-century Britain, at the time of the Saxon invasions. The series began with four short stories published in Fantastic, starting with "Fugitives in Winter" (1975), plus a fifth in the anthology Swords Against Darkness II (anth 1977) ed Andrew J Offutt; all bore the pseudonym Denis More. KT subsequently revised the stories as Bard (fixup 1981 US), the first of five novels about Felimid's wanderings in Britain and northern Europe. His Dark Age Britain is convincing and authentic, revealing a deep knowledge of the history and cultures of the period.

The later novels develop the character of Felimid but become rather more traditional in approach. In Bard II (1984 US; vt The First Long Ship 1985 UK) Felimid encounters the female Pirate Gudrun Blackhair, who has captured the magic ship Ormungandr, created by the Dwarfs of Norse legend (> Nordic Fantasy). Felimid falls in love with Gudrun and their adventures in the magical ship continue in The Wild Sea (1986 US) and Ravens' Gathering (1987 US). The final novel, Felimid's Homecoming (1991 UK), brings Felimid back to Ireland to discover that much has changed since he left. Overall, the series is one of the best and most cohesive of Celtic fantasies, with well drawn characters and a sense of history. The Wild Sea won the Australian Ditmar Award.

After the Bard novels, KT turned to another series set in the early, turbulent days of Ireland. The Danans series tells of the attempt to unite two constantly warring tribes by arranging a marriage between the Queen of the Danans and the Chief of the Freths. An evil prince, however, has his own designs on Ireland and seeks to thwart the marriage. The series runs: The Sorcerer's Sacred Isle (1989 US), The Cauldron of Plenty (1989 US) and Search for the Starblade (1989 US), the last a rather more formulaic Quest novel.

KT's only singleton novel to date is Lances of Nengesdul (1982), a Planetary Romance in which a circus midget and acrobat is transported to a low-gravity planet and finds he is now superhuman. KT also wrote two novels with Andrew J Offutt, continuing the Cormac Mac Art series by Robert E Howard: When Death Birds Fly * (1980 US) and The Tower of Death * (1982 US). Among KT's short fiction, "Spirit Places" (1985 in Faery! ed Terri Windling), where spirits vie for rebirth in a new-born child, is a rare use of local Aboriginal Myths. [MA]

Keith John Taylor


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.