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Barbara Hambly
Del Rey Books, 304 pages

Mark Garro
Barbara Hambly
Barbara Hambly was born in San Diego, California in 1951. She attended University of California at Riverside, specializing in Medieval History and earned a masters degree in 1975. In 1982, Del Rey published her Time of the Dark, the first of the Darwath Trilogy. Other novels include The Magicians of Night, Bride of the Rat God, Children of the Jedi, Those Who Hunt the Night and Traveling With the Dead and Planet of Twilight. She has been the President of the Science Fiction Writers of America (1994-1996), won a Locus Award and has multiple Nebula Award nominations. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles.

Barbara Hambly Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Barbara Hambly Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

John and Jenny were both left hanging at the end of the last book of this series, Knight of the Demon Queen. John Aversin, Thane of the Winterlands is the only living man to have ever killed a dragon, and the only one ever to have befriended one. Jenny, his wife, is a mage whose powers where stripped from her during one of the previous books. We meet John again on the eve of his execution for trafficking with demon --- a charge he can hardly deny since he did make a deal with the Demon Queen to help free his wife and son. He is rescued at the last minute by Corvin the dragon, and taken to a ruined city in the desert. There, despite Corvin's warnings, he explores, searching for the different gates to different hells. He knows that, as long as the Dragonstar is in the sky, the demons may be able to find their freedom, then turn their attentions to wreaking havoc among the humans. The demons are a cruel race, thriving on pain and misery, warring with each other. John and Jenny's main concern is to keep them from being freed.

Jenny is trapped in the Deep, an underground place where the gnomes used to live. It is a place she knows well, for once she explored it with the help of Morkeleb the Black. Morkeleb has changed since we first saw him, his love for Jenny has changed him, and now he is a dragon shadow, a creature whose great curiosity about the ways around him and his willingness to work with other separates him from his emotionally colder dragon kin. As John and Jenny get closer together, we feel their regrets, their desire just to see each other once more and both to apologize and to reconcile. When they finally meet back up, the scene is incredibly sweet.

I first read Dragonsbane when I was 13. It was the first fantasy book to truly reach me. For a couple for years after that, all of my male characters were shameless knockoffs of John Aversin or his fellow Hambly character Antryg Windrose. Barbara Hambly writes with a magic that I have long yearned to capture in my own words. I remember bawling my eyes out at the end of Dragonsbane even as I was mentally begging for more. You can imagine how excited I was when she continued the series with Dragonshadow and Knight of the Demon Queen.

I think what is really special about her books -- and Dragonstar is no different -- is a richness of setting combined with a cast of characters that you'd love to actually know. There's John, a knight who'd rather be a scholar, Jenny whose need to learn more magic has made her life harder, but richer as she relearns who she is, and Morkeleb, once a dragon who, dragon-like, cared only for the things draconic, who is now melting and changing into something different. There are others... every character is completely done, and although they might not always be worth liking, they are always worth understanding.

Some people might not be comfortable with the concept of demons. I'm one of those people who often would be, but she handles it so that it works perfectly, and doesn't offend. After all, it is a another world. The demons are a completely different race, and what makes them interesting is the fact that they never let up... they are all vile, self-centered horrifying creatures.

Dragonstar is an incredible adventure, finishing up and tying up all the loose ends from the series. It is also a meditation on a couple of things. Regrets... how we hurt the people we love the most, and the sweetness and comfortableness when things are made right again, and how we change, and come to accept our new selves. It is, in some ways, a much happier story than the past two... the past two were much darker, and there were a lot of conflicts between the characters that could be painful. There are still some sad moments, but things are made right, making it the perfect end to this part of the series.

At the end of the book there is a carefully laid hint that maybe there will be a new adventure with John, Jenny and Morkeleb in a few years. I can hardly wait.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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