The Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Much as I have always loved Barbara Hambly's work, I've not read the Dawarth books until now. Mainly because I had the last two of the initial trilogy and was waiting until I found the first one to read them. I eventually found it, but by then my to-read shelf had grown a life of its own and I just never pulled this one out. Until now.
And I was not disappointed. As always, Ms. Hambly spins a darn good tale, with action and suspense a-plenty. Though most of the book is set in an alternate world of kings, castles, wizards and creatures of the dark, it begins in modern day (well, modern to the time the book was published in the early 1980's) California, where Gil Patterson, a graduate student in history has been having dreams of a land far removed from her own. One evening, she wakes to find the wizard Ingold Inglorion in her kitchen. He has traveled from the alternate world, seeking a refuge against the day he must bring the only heir to the throne of his land through the Void between the worlds to escape the attacking Dark, an evil force which had lain dormant for thousands of years and was now waking to attack. Gil agrees and when the final attack commences, Ingold brings the baby Prince with him across the Void. They meet a young drifter, Rudy Solis and he and Gil are drawn back with Ingold to the wizard's world, where they will be trapped unless they and the survivors of the Prince's devastated realm can figure out a way to defeat the Dark.
One of my favorite things about Ms. Hambly's books has always been the characters, and they don't disappoint here. Rudy is likable, despite his somewhat flip attitude at times, Gil develops in character along with her newly found ability with a sword, Ingold is at once mysterious and powerful as well as gentle and shows a true sense of humor. Even the lesser characters leave their mark: the warrior known as the Icefalcon is aloof and fascinating, the arms master of the King's guard, Gnift, would put any drill sergeant to shame, and the young Queen Minalde is quiet and shy at first, but as fiercely protective of her son as any mother.
There are times where the story seems put on temporary hold for some background filling and building, but that's not unusual in a first of a trilogy story, and the lags are never too long before the action picks up again. The main conflict of this story is nicely resolved at the end, but leaves much to be told before the bigger story is done. And it leaves me eager to press on and read more.
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