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Dragonsbane (Winterlands Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 352 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The intricately described settings are a bit much, even for me. It reflects the style of its original publication date, 1986. Read morePublished 27 days ago by J. Gunnar Grey
Who do you fight a dragon . And survive to tell about it. Even if you survive it. Would it change you. Would feel that you do anything or is it something else. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
MY FAVORITE AUTHOR!! And one of my favorite of all her writings. I almost believe she channeled the info about the dragon...it was so remarkable. Love this book!Published 6 months ago by Christine Tanier
Dragonsbane is a novel I read upon release back in 1985. Obviously, the world was a different place back then, I was a different person (young teenager) and fantasy was of a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Wendell
Dragonsbane was my first Barbara Hambly book. I don't know how I missed this fantasy author in my reading, but I plan to catch up on her works. Read morePublished 12 months ago by The Country Witch
The first book of Winterlands series - Well written, light, and genre-accurate. I enjoyed reading it and will continue reading the series.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
All the elements of a good fantasy, with beautifully realized characters...and a bit of a mystery thrown in. May be Hambly's best book.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is vintage Barbara Hambly. I am most impressed by the two protagonists. both of whom are approaching middle age. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Patricia Fulda