Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Twelve years after she concluded her Darwath Trilogy with The Time of the Dark, Hambly returns to the Keep of Dare. In this magical country, two former Californians, Rudy Solis and Gil Patterson, have prospered in their alternative professions (wizard and warrior, respectively), as well as in their interpersonal relationships with Dare's ruler and Archmage. But in the last five years a new glacial Ice Age has taken hold of Dare. Slunch, a virtually indestructible form of magical fungus, is ruining most of the arable farmland, and mutant creatures are attacking people. If something is not done immediately, the world's surface will freeze, rendering it uninhabitable by humans. Rudy must retain the trust of his queen and lover, Minalde, while delving into her five-year-old son's vast genetic memories, even as Gil and Ingold Inglorion struggle to stop the Mother of Winter from freeze-drying the planet. Part of the appeal of this novel lies in its juxtaposition of old and new: American brand-name products (Cracker Jacks, Swanson frozen entrees) and idiomatic phrases ("Pick up the phone, man!") cohabitate with swordplay and a medieval mindset; high-tech concepts like genetics mingle with sorcerous derring-do. The story is involving, and the narrative intelligent. Too often in recent years, Hambly has expended her talent on Star Trek or Star Wars series novels; it's good to see her originality back and blazing. (Oct.)
VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
Renweth, a kingdom still reeling from battling the Dark ones five years earlier, faces a threat that may finish off the remnant of their people. Devastating ice storms wreak agricultural disaster and kill scores of the adults and children inhabiting the Keep of Dare. An insidious white fungal growth called slunch begins inexorably covering the arable land and orchards of the Kingdom, killing every living plant it touches. More horrifying still are the terrifying mutations suffered by the animals and people verging on starvation, who turn to slunch for sustenance. The Keep's archmage, Ingold Inglorion, his student, Rudy Solis, and Gil Patterson, Ingold's lover, set out to solve the mystery of the terrible events that seem destined to annihilate Renweth and its people forever. Fighting angry, radical factions in the Keep itself, religious bias against the use of magic, and the power of centuries-old Ice mages who serve their mistress the Mother of Winter, these three risk their lives to save the rest of their world. Action is sustained to the very end with a cast of believable, engaging characters. Hambly's writing is excellent; her imagery brings the ancient maze-like Keep and its residents to life. Readers will empathize with the determined persistence of Ingold, Rudy, and Gil against almost insurmountable odds. Balance is restored and good eventually triumphs, but there is a great deal of adventure and excitement on the way. After an interval of thirteen years, Hambly finally adds a fourth volume to her first Darwath trilogy, following The Time of the Dark (Ballantine, 1982), The Walls of Air (1983), and The Armies of Daylight (1983). By now she has graduated into hardcover. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
This sequel to Hambly's first fantasy series, the "Darwath Trilogy," is set five years after the Dark Ones nearly destroyed Renweth. Now the world is mysteriously growing colder, and Rudy and Gil must help the wizard Ingold defeat the magic-resistant creatures spawned by the cold. For fantasy collections owning the trilogy.
A direct sequel to Hambly's earlier Darwath trilogy (The Time of the Dark, 1984, paperback original), about a fantasy world beset by evil forces (but what fantasy world isn't?) and featuring two transplanted Californians, the mage Rudy Solis and the warrior Gil Patterson. Chronologically, five years have passed since the last novelalthough if you haven't read the trilogy, much (Hambly's unnerving blend of technology and magic, for example, such as spellcasting recorded on videotape) will remain mysterious. The folk of the Keep of Dare in Renweth now face starvation as a ubiquitous horrid white growth, "slunch," immune to magic and physical attack, permits nothing else to grow; also, the climate is cooling. Worse, anything that eats the slunch metamorphoses into a ghastly monster. Rudy and the old Archmage, Ingold Inglorion, find that the entire ecological onslaught is directed by three ice-mages and their queen, the Mother of Winter; their magic, on a different wavelength than Ingold's, can't be stopped. Ingold and Gilshe's been ensorcelled by the ice-mages to kill Ingoldtravel south to battle the ice-mages while Rudy studies recordings of spells cast by the long-ago mage known as the Bald Lady. And the starving people of the Keep, now eating slunch, not only are transformed but become slaves of the ice-mages.
Hambly's most disagreeable habit is interrupting her conversation with paragraphs of exposition or description, making it hard to follow who's saying what, and why. There are no plot surprises, yet the yarn's peppered with intriguing ideasmost given no more than a cursory exploration. Frustrating.