the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Barbara Hambly’ Category

So, apparently I’m on a Star Trek kick?

ishmael-hamblyIshmael by Barbara Hambly

published in 1985

where I got it: purchased used

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When I saw this book at a used bookstore a while back, I  couldn’t say no. I mean come on – Spock playing what looks like chess in what looks like it could be the wild west? Also? Any Spock story is a good story. And Barbara Hambly? Shut up and take my two bucks.

At Starbase 12, Kirk and Spock observe a Klingon transport ship behaving rather oddly. Spock manages to get aboard, and the next thing everyone knows, the ship has entered the mysterious storms of the nearby Tau Eridani Cloud and disappeared. Kirk blames himself for Spock’s disappearance and fears the worst.

Suffering from amnesia, Spock wakes up in the woods under the blue sky of a planet. The year is 1867 and he’s in Seattle, which is a muddy logging town on the frontier. Injured and weak, Spock is taken in and nursed back to health by Aaron Stemple. Nicknamed Ishmael, and introduced around as Stemple’s nephew, Spock’s memories very slowly return to him. He knows his homeworld is elsewhere, he has bits and pieces of memories of technology. Meanwhile, Stemple give Ishmael a job at his mill, and helps him learn about the politics of the Seattle community. The story rambles a  bit, with Ishmael sharing his contemporary and progressive worldview, and inadvertently widening the worldview of those he befriends in Seattle. It doesn’t matter what Spock is doing, it’s always fun to watch him interact with humans who act impulsively and irrationally. And of course, I heard every line in my head in Leonard Nimoy’s voice.

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dragonsbane coverDragonsbane, by Barbara Hambly

published 1985

where I got it: paperbackswap

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Raised on the glorious and romantic epics of old, Gareth knows all the songs and heroic tales. He can tell you verse by verse exactly how the hero slayed the monster with one swing of his gleaming sword. And it must be true, because that is how the story goes. On the words of ballads, Gareth travels north to find John Aversin, the Dragonsbane.  The most honorable man in the kingdom, John slayed a dragon and asked no reward in return. Out of love for King and kingdom, he put his life at risk and returned victorious.

 

All the stories Gareth learned were wrong.

 

To Gareth’s court trained eyes, all he sees in John Aversin is a northern barbarian who is more interested in animal husbandry than slaying dragons. Sickened by the thought that John’s mistress Jenny Waynest is a magewitch, Gareth can barely look her in the eye. John lives his life by living his life – a passionate but untrained naturalist, he fills his libraries with what books can be found, learns from the local farmers, and is more sad that the dragon he slayed decomposed before he could study it than proud that he killed it.  John sees the journey south as a bargaining opportunity. If he saves the capitol from a dragon, the King will have no choice but to send troops and support north to help rebuild the crumbling northern territories, right?

 

As Gareth, John and Jenny journey south, it becomes pretty obvious Gareth isn’t telling them the whole truth. Some of it you’ll guess, and some comes out pretty soon, but there are nasty surprises awaiting them once they reach the King’s court.

 

But that isn’t what this book is about.

 

Let me tell you all about Jenny Waynest.  Because without her, Dragonsbane would be exactly the bland tropey adventure story that the cover art leads you to think it is.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.