Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Hambly’s Darwath trilogy on sale — and fitting Darwath into Hambly’s oeuvre

Just letting you know that Barbara Hambly’s Darwath trilogy is on sale for $2.99 on Amazon right now.

This is not my favorite series by Hambly, but then she’s written a whole bunch of books that fall into a wider-than-usual spectrum of quality. It’s a good trilogy. I like it quite a bit. If you’ve never read it, I suggest you pick it up.

So, this makes me want to set this trilogy within Hambly’s oeuvre. Let me take a stab at that. I’m going to break series up where I think that’s appropriate. None of the books within a category are sorted out at all. The whole category is about at the same level for me.

Right at the top:

Dragonsbane (first book of the Winterlands series)

The Ladies of Mandrigin (first book of the Sunwolf/Starhawk series)

The Witches of Winshar (second book of the Sunwolf/Starhawk series)

Ishmael (Star Trek tie-in). I have no idea how often I’ve read this book. It’s probably my favorite Star Trek novel of all time.

Those Who Hunt the Night (first book of the vampire series)

Bride of the Rat God (yes, really, don’t be put off by the title, which is supposed to evoke B-grade campy movies)

A Free Man of Color (first book of the Benjamin January series)

One step down:

The Windrose trilogy (but it’s very intense and one book ends on a terrible cliffhanger. Which is fine, since the whole series is out; I’m just saying that I think it may have left a permanent scar when I had to wait a year for the next book to come out.)

Stranger at the Wedding (standalone in the Windrose universe)

Traveling with the Dead (second book of the vampire series)

Two steps down:

Most of the rest of the vampire series

Most of the rest of the Benjamin January series

The Darwath trilogy

The Dark Hand of Magic (the third book in the Sunwolf/Starhawk series)

I like all the books in this category a lot. The Benjamin January series is my favorite mystery series ever.

Three steps down:

The Abigail Adams mysteries, written as Barbara Hamilton. For characterization and setting, these are top-notch. For mysteries, rather less so, as I thought the murderer was pretty obvious in all of them. I really like them though! Characters and setting are the point of mysteries, for me, rather than the mystery itself.

Some of the Benjamin January books fall in this category for me as well, but I don’t actually remember which titles. The one that takes place in Mexico isn’t a personal favorite. Nor the one that involves baseball. I like the whole series a bunch, though, so everything in this category is still something I like a lot.

A couple of the vampire series fall in this category as well. Again, not sure which titles.

The other two Star Trek tie-ins, which are Ghostwalker and Crossroads.

And then waaaay down the list, like down another dozen steps down at least. Maybe two dozen more steps down:

Mother of Winter (set in the Darwath world)

The rest of the Winterlands series

The Sun-Cross duology, which I think of as the Nazi duology

These are the ones I either couldn’t get through or wished I hadn’t. I fear I thought Mother of Winter was just pretty bad. There’s one more book set after this one and I never tried it because I could not bring myself to finish Mother of Winter. I couldn’t tell you why I had such trouble with this book — I tried it a long time ago.

As you may know, the rest of the series after Dragonsbane gets very, very, very, VERY dark. I read it, but then I gave the books away. I hope I included a warning label for the next reader.

And for whatever reason, I just found the Nazi duology unreadable. Oh, now that I think about it, I do know why. It’s because the good guy protagonists are stumbling into disaster in extreme slow motion over the course of the entire first book, and I found that situation simply unbearable. That’s why. I never read the second book, so to me, the protagonists were left in a terrible situation.

Books I haven’t read:

It turns out there are some, including a couple fantasy novels.

The Raven Sisters duology — never tried it.

Star Wars tie-ins — I was never into Star Wars and never tried those.

Hambly wrote a handful of historicals and I haven’t read those either. They seem to be Civil War stories. Not a period I’m that drawn to, so I may never try them, though I did like the Abigail Adams mysteries, so who knows.

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6 Comments Hambly’s Darwath trilogy on sale — and fitting Darwath into Hambly’s oeuvre

  1. Mike S.

    Re Ishmael, I still want to know how she managed to get a crossover fic between Trek and “Here Come the Brides” of all things (with cameos from Have Gun, Will Travel and Bonanza among others) published. It’s good, certainly, but “high concept” hardly does the idea justice.

  2. Rachel

    Yes, I’ve heard people comment that Ishmael is plainly fanfic at heart. Which I guess is true. But it’s still one of the all time best Star Trek tie-in novels.

  3. Pete Mack

    Hmmm. I really like the Darwath trilogy. So spooky and claustrophobic an environment makes an excellent pressure cooker in which she stew her characters. I agree about the sequels being vastly inferior tho.

  4. Mike S.

    There’s “fanfic at heart”, which arguably applies to a lot of tie-in fiction, and there’s “wholly import an obscure short-lived 60s western comedy because its villain was played by the same actor as Spock’s dad.” I’m not criticizing, and I liked the book. I’m just forever in awe at the audacity.

  5. Kathryn McConaughy

    Clearly I’ve been trying the wrong Hambly books all these years… I love Ishmael, and I thought the other Star Trek and Star Wars tie-ins were okay, but I’ve never managed to finish any of the other ones I’ve tried. Time for some interlibrary loan action…

  6. Rachel

    Kathryn, I hope you agree with me about the rest of Hambly’s books and love the ones you try!

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