Saturday, August 07, 2010

Barbara Hambly

A long time ago male authors dominated many genres of books including Fantasy. Some women authors had to use male pseudonyms to get published such as James Triptree who was really Alice Sheldon. Today, women authors hold their own with the men. There are many talented women Fantasy authors. Barbara Hambly is one of them. She has written many memorable books set in imaginative worlds of her own creation. Her characters remain with readers for a long time. All of the books span a range from Epic to Historical Fantasy.

The first series started with Time of the Dark, which became the Darwath trilogy. Ingold Inglorion, a wizard from Darwath, draws two young people from our world to his world to fight a menacing force of Darkness. Gil is a woman from our world who becomes a warrior and Rudy, an artist, becomes a mage. They explore the great fortress of the Keep of Dare in order to discover the secrets to defeat the Dark. The other two books in the trilogy are: The Walls of Air and The Armies of D aylight. Ms. Hambly wrote two other sequels that take place five years after the trilogy. Mother of Winter has the characters face new problems after the defeat of the Dark. They are threatened by a disease that destroys crops as the ice slowly moves south. The plot is resolved by a quest to a giant mountain known as Mother of Winter. The next book, Icefalcon’s Quest, takes place two years later. Ingold is away on a trip and dangers affect everyone else. This leaves Icefalcon to follow a dangerous mage and save a young boy. Ms. Hambly adds two stunning books to this fantasy world.

Another series is The Windrose Chronicles featuring the mage Antryg Windrose and Joanna, who is from our world. These books are set in a time approximate to the Industrial Revolution. The Silent Tower introduces us to Joanna as she is kidnapped across the Void the the empire of Ferryth. There she meets Antryg and along with another wizard, Caris, helps to defeat the evil intentions of the wizard Surkalin. I ˇn the next book, The Silicon Mage, Joanna travels back to the empire of Ferryth to help her friends defeat Surkalin once and for all. Finally, Joanna and Antryg live in California, but are dragged back across the void in the book Dog Wizard. These books have realistic characters involved in intriguing stories. Stranger at the Wedding takes place in the same world but tells the tale of Kyra. She is a young woman with strong magic talent. When she goes home for her sister’s wedding, she finds great danger and threats to her family. This is a nice addition to the other books set in a fascinating world.

Two of her Historical Fantasy novels are set during World War II and known as the Sun Cross. The Rainbow Abyss tells the story of the wizard Jaldis and his apprentice Rhion as they try to get to our world to answer a cry for help. Their world fears wizards and want to destroy them. The Magicians of Night tells a powerful story of the Holocaust. Rhion is trapped in Nazi Germany. He wants to get back to his world to find out what happened to his fellow wizards. Some Jewish prisoners help him to get back to his world. The characters are very realistic. Ms. Hambly does an excellent job of bringing a tragic part of world history to life.

Barbara Hambly has written Fantasy books with dragons too. Set in her world of the Winterlands, Dragonsbane is a classic of the genre. John Aversin the Dragonsbane and his wife Jenny Waynest receive a summons to a kingdom to slay the black dragon Morkeleb. Fearing for her husband’s life, Jenny makes a deal with the dragon. The author creates a remarkable character in Morkeleb that makes him seem what a real dragon would be like. The story and characters of this book appear in three sequels. Jenny Waynest and John return again in ¨ the next book Dragonshadow. This time they face demons who control other mages and dragons through their trapped souls. Ms. Hambly explores the theme of how power is a strong temptation to people in this book. Knight of the Demon Queen begins with a threat to Jenny and John’s son Ian. John owes a debt to the demon queen and must do it to save his son. Finally, Dragonstar completes the story of John and Jenny as John awaits execution. Jenny wants to save him as they find out who their allies and enemies truly are in this riveting conclusion.

This author explores other other cultures with her deft story telling. Bride of the Rat God is set in turn-of-the-century Los Angeles and has a lot about Chinese culture of the time. Christine is a movie star. She sets off supernatural events by wearing a necklace. This declares her a bride to the rat god. The problem is she does not want to be married to this Åancient Chinese demon god. This book is an interesting addition to the author’s various works.

Dark Fantasy is represented by two books about vampires. Those Who Hunt the Night is the story of Dr. James Asher who is hired by Don Simon Ysidro, the leader of the vampires of London, to find the murderer killing the vampires of the city. He must do this to save his wife Lydia. In Traveling With the Dead, Lydia asks for help from Don Ysidro to save her husband. They follow James Asher throughout Europe discovering trouble to everyone involved. These books add interesting views from this talented author.

Sun Wolf and Starhawk are two of Ms. Hambly’s interesting characters. Sun Wolf is the leader of a mercenary company and Starhawk is his partner. The Ladies of Mandrigyn introduces Sun Wolf trapped by women who want him to train them in warfare. He refuses so they hold him prisoner. His second in command, Starhawk, comes to rescue him. In the ensuing plot, Sun Wolf discovers he has magic power. Their next adventure is The Witches of Wenshar where they travel to a desert city to find someone to teach Sun Wolf how to use his powers. They find a lot of intrigue in the city and must resolve things before moving on. The Dark Hand of Magic finds Sun Wolf and Starhawk reunited with their company. Unfortunately, something is killing members of their company and they must find out what is going on. These characters are very interesting in their relationship and Ms. Hambly tells intriguing tales about them.

One of her most recent books is Sisters of the Raven. The book takes place in a city where magic is deser gting men, but women are gaining the magic power. Raeshaldis is the main character with the strongest talent among the women. They must band together to save the Yellow City from a plot that would plunge it into civil war. Danger lurks throughout the city, destroying the Raven sisters who are the only ones left to summon rain and bring precious water to the desert city. Part Fantasy, part mystery, this is a strong addition to the many of works of the author.

Barbara Hambly is a highly talented Fantasy author. She is the creator of memorable characters and Fantasy worlds. Her books span the range of Epic to Historical Fantasy. Dragons, vampires and many other characters are described in detail, bringing them to life. Ms. Hambly uses vivid images in her books to keep the intriguing plots moving along. Readers will find her books entertaining and worth reading.

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