I have scoured the web in search for books and authors Knaak enjoys, though, I am sad to say, the results are lacking. There is shamefully little about the man of the hour online to be found, apart from the book promotions, and the short biography. Some things are referenced but have since moved to different sites and servers, or they’ve been deleted altogether.
Still, with a little help from a couple of my friends, who volunteered to listen to a few podcasts and read interviews online with me, we have finally come up with a few titles and authors. Now, my dragon-thusiasts, you should know that I have not reached out to Mr. Knaak directly, so this info could be outdated, or simply wrong. Still, it’s a place to start.
According to our research, Richard Knaak was inspired by several authors while developing his characters. One of them was Robert E. Howard, most famous for Conan the Barbarian and being the father of the sword and sorcery genre of fantasy. Imagine stories in a Conan-like setting. Barbarians, magic, a harsh climate, and even harsher societies – that’s pretty much the gist of it. That, and the loincloths.
Another legendary author that made our storyteller what he is today is Edgar Allan Poe, with his flair for the dark and terrifying. If, however, you are looking for something more up-to-date and are familiar with the Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny also has a horse in the race.
One of his works, the Black City Saint series, drew heavily on the noir and Chicago during prohibition. His biggest inspirations for this were The Shadow novels, as well as The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett. It is also worth mentioning that one or more of our favorite dragons created by our favorite wordsmith drew inspiration from Tolkien’s Smaug.
Just because we love the books of the past doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy something more recent. Do we not wait eagerly for the next title in our favorite book series’ (more on that topic in another post)? Here are a few people and books that warrant our attention which have been written by Knaak’s contemporaries.
Considering Richard Knaak’s Twitter feed is mostly comprised of promotions, announcements, and game news, it is surprising and refreshing to see him mention a work like Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove. It features an alternate take on history in which Spain conquered England in 1588. You will find characters like Shakespeare and Lope de Vega.
Harry Harrison caught our eye for his Deathworld series, but there is also Bill, the Galactic Hero, which originally served as satire, but the series did not conclude the way Harrison wished. Unfortunately, Harry Harrison died in 2012.
While there is a lot of book-promoting involved, one can’t forget that this is the way of Richard Knaak’s life. Naturally, RPGs are a part of the mix. So, it is very likely that he enjoyed the projects he was involved in. However, as is the case with a significant portion of this piece, this is just speculation.