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Dragonsbane (Winterlands Book 1) by [Hambly, Barbara]
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4.4 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Barbara is a fabulously talented writer who can write well in any genre.” —Charlaine Harris

About the Author

Barbara Hambly (b. 1951) is a New York Times bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction, as well as historical novels set in the nineteenth century. After receiving a master’s degree in medieval history, she published The Time of the Dark, the first novel in the Darwath saga, in 1982, establishing herself as an author of serious speculative fiction. Since then she has created several series, including the Windrose Chronicles, Sun Wolf and Starhawk series, and Sun-Cross series, in addition to writing for the Star Wars and Star Trek universes.
Besides fantasy, Hambly has won acclaim for the James Asher vampire series, which won the Locus Award for best horror novel in 1989, and the Benjamin January mystery series, featuring a brilliant African-American surgeon in antebellum New Orleans. She lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2896 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (March 29, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 29, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TC149G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,510 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Palmer on December 2, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dragonsbane is a story about a witch (Jenny Waynest), a celebrated dragonslayer (John Aversin) and a black dragon named Morkeleb. Without revealing too much of the story, it's enough to say that it follows a standard formula for a dragon / fantasy book, but does so in a rather illustrative and original fashion.

Rather than give us a one-dimensional baddie dragon which is merely a prop set up to be dispatched by the main characters, Hambly proceeds past this and reveals a depth to the black dragon that I have not yet seen duplicated in other fantasy stories involving such mythical creatures. Needless to say, the characters in this novel are very well developed, as well as the artful descriptions of the story's tapestry-so well described at times, we often feel we're really there. This is a talent Barbara brings to her works and is what distances herself from the usual sci fi / fantasy writer "me-too-izm."

Some may find her long winded descriptions tedious, claiming that she wastes valuable space at the beginning of this novel with filler, but I welcome it as building a solid foundation of character study and depth. If you pay attention, you'll no doubt increase your knowledge of medieval culture as well.

If you prefer traditional "sword & sorcery" type novels with mounds of action and little depth, pass this by. If, however, you prefer more to your fantasy than warriors, warlocks and mindless monsters, check out Dragonsbane.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book introduces us to Lord John Aversin, one of Hambley's most endearing characters. John is a northern "barbarian", who is in actuality quite smart and bookish. He'd rather be learning about engineering feats of the distant past or applying some new theory of farming instead of fighting bandits or the mysterious Ice Riders. But he was born the son of the old Lord, and inherited after his death. He has a strong sense of duty to both his people and the Realm, which has fogotten him and his people since they pulled their garrisons out and sent them back south to the capital more than 100 years ago. He is married to Jenny Waynest, a mage of limited powers whose loyalties are slpit between John and their sons, and her power, which she is still trying to increase.
Into this situation strides Gar, an aristocratic idealist who is as out of place in the royal seat as John is as a bloodthirsty warrior. He is looking for John, because Aversin is the only living Dragonsbane, that is, he killed a dragon several years ago that was threatening his people. Another dragon has appeared down south, and is threatening the capital. Gar persuades John and Jenny to go south to face the monster, in return for the garrsions to be sent north again and the Realm to take interest in the north once again. John, who'd rather study dragons than slay them, reluctantly agrees to go.
Here we start on a high adventure, which in typical Hambley fashion, quickly becomes a web of political intrigue, dark magics, and hidden intents. Gar turns out to be the royal heir to the throne, the king is enslaved to a witch of tremendous but mysterious power, and the confrontation with the dragon turns out to be more than anyone bargained for.
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By A Customer on November 26, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dragonsbane is easily Hambly's best book to date (26 November 1997). She woos us into her universe, which admittedly is not difficult since there are few new artifacts to engage our attention, but she also manages to woo us into the interior spaces of her characters where we are allowed to see the kinds of choices that people make every day and every lifetime.
The book is full of choices -- Jenny Waynest gives up mastery of magic in order to have a relationship with her lover and her sons -- and those choices are constantly called into question, both by the characters themselves and by the situations into which the characters are drawn. Jenny knows that her life could have been very different had she chosen to pursue her magic despite its severe demands; only the dragon is able to confront her when he sees clearly into her heart and mind and asks: "Do you cling to all the little joys because you are afraid of the great ones?"
Dragonsbane falters as most Hambly books do: the author is so enamoured of language that the well-drawn tapestry of scene and mood sometimes looks more like the over-busy, tassled throw rugs my Aunt Geneva used to embroider, applique, and give away to all the grandkids. Sometimes, a simple image does the trick.
But the great strength of the book is that it is not overwhelmed by the artifacts of the genre. The story is clearly about people, not about magic, and Hambly is able to use the artifacts to seduce us into a story where dragons love gold for its singing of their names.
Dragonsbane is the most accomplished, most polished, and most poignant of Hambly's work.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Looking only at an outline of the plot, Dragonsbane could easily be mistaken for a yet another tale in the "high fantasy" tradition. It contains most of the standard elements that make such stories popular: heroic quests and battles, contests of magic, and the like. Those elements are executed well, and alone could make for a somewhat entertaining story.
However, the tale is anything but high fantasy. The heroes of the story are presented as human beings, with human faults and human needs, and nothing is as simple as the legendary ballads would suggest. As much as anything else, the book deals with difficult choices, past and present, that define who the characters are and who they will become.
In particular, I found that I could truly empathize with Jenny, a woman torn between her love for her family and her love of learning. "To be a mage, you must be a mage" to the exclusion of all else, she was taught, and every moment spent on other interests meant that much less power, that much less knowledge that she would never attain. Her struggle (and failure) to truly satisfy both of those desires is one of the central issues of the book.
Because of this and many similarly deep examples, Dragonsbane is a book that I have read again and again. Its conclusion brings a tear to my eye every time. Unlike most fantasy these days, Dragonsbane contains characters that are truly well drawn and compelling in their humanity. Those who read fantasy only for adventure and who have no taste for any "good literature" may well be disappointed by a book that focuses more on people than on swords and sorcery. However, for more mature readers who want more from a story than a few fights and lightning bolts, Dragonsbane is one of the very best books in the genre.
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