The Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I saw this trilogy has been bundled for the Kindle and realized just how many years it had been since I'd read this book, which I used to reread all the time.
It begins with a wonderful premise. What if you've been having a series of recurring dreams, set in a strange world, where you're in the middle of a panicking crowd all running from an ineffable horror? Then, one night, you wake up and you are in the middle of the city. It's no dream. It's real.
That's what happens to scholar Gil Patterson. Where Barbara Hambly takes the adventure from there is a great ride.
You wouldn't normally think of a comfort book as one where you are fleeing with refugees from amorphous enemies (the Dark) in a parallel universe, where it is always freezing and there is never enough food, where you may never get home again because that might let the Dark into your own world ... but there you go. This is a much loved story that I fell back into last night, thinking "why has it been so long?"
Partly this is because I love Barbara Hambly's early books. This, as I just discovered, was her first. Gil, Rudy, Ingold, the Ice Falcoln, are all well drawn characters. They are realistic, imperfect heroes, just as the villains are sometimes people we can understand and relate to, despite the fact that one loves to hate them.
My mind is smoothed to the contours of their world and their struggles. I am really enjoying rediscovering the bits I'd forgotten, such as seeing just how Hambly built in the the underlying story logic through tiny details that show up very early int he book.
Overall this is really a great adventure and world to visit. I'm glad the Kindle reminded me that these actual books were waiting on my shelf.