The Darwath Trilogy

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Darwath Trilogy
Barbara Hambly
The Time of the Dark (1982), The Walls of Air (1983), The Armies of Daylight (1983)

Premise: Gil dreams. She dreams of a haunted city, full of people in clothes she doesn’t recognize, not even from her historical scholarship. She dreams of a king, and a wizard and an infant prince. She dreams of the Dark which besieges them. And then the dreams are no longer dreams…

It was very odd, reading this after reading Hambly’s later series which starts with The Silent Tower. There are a lot of parallels between the two books. Both focus on a person or persons drawn from California into a fantasy world, who have to learn to survive there and decide what they want to do next, whether it’s get home above all else or help the people where they end up. However, while I wouldn’t read them back-to-back, there are enough differences as well to make both series worth reading.

I loved the variety of characters here, the range of plausible perspectives and beliefs. This series is very much about fate, and more so about vocation. It’s very much about doing the things one feels called to do, whether that’s study swordplay or fall in love, and doing them with everything you have.

The skill with prose and tone is really what I keep going back to Hambly for. She does an amazing job writing characters in situations I accept in a totally understated way. I love understated emotion in a world seemingly tilted towards melodrama. I like Gil’s grit and quiet passion; Rudy (another traveler from America) and how his surface flippancy hides a person who wishes he were less shallow.

The action is gripping, the world interesting, the tension unrelenting for much of the second and third books. The ending is…. fine. The excellent writing helps it land better than the actual plot perhaps deserves, although it might be a case of a plot that’s been done more than once now, but was more groundbreaking in 1983.

A side note: the formatting on these e-books is much MUCH better than the last few I had from Open Road Media, so maybe they’ve gotten a handle on their production issues. I do love getting backlist books on my Kindle.

4 Stars - Very Good Books.

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