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The Ladies of Mandrigyn (Sun Wolf and Starhawk #1)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,059 ratings  ·  67 reviews
A brilliant mercenary must lead his army against the forces of the most powerful wizard alive

Gifted with courage, strength, and the intelligence to know when to fight, Sun Wolf is the greatest mercenary in a land overrun by war. With his first lieutenant, Starhawk—a woman more deadly than any man—at his side, he has laid waste to countless cities, taking the best of their
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Open Road (first published 1984)
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I really enjoyed The Ladies of Mandrigyn way more than I expected to. It's kind of an old school sword and sorcery type fantasy, written in the 80s, but I didn't think it felt too dated.

There are two main POVs. One is Sun Wolf, the captain of a band of mercenaries. His story is interesting because he is the only man in it for most of the book. There is a strong cast of women of all personalities and motivations, since all the men of Mandrigyn have been enslaved by an evil wizard. The women hire
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I’ll begin by saying that I loved this book. Fiercely. To the point I wasn’t ready to let go when it came due at the library, so I ordered my own copy. Does that mean it’s without flaws? No, which is why I’m giving 4 stars. But it’s one of those books that reminded me why I still read fantasy, even though I’ve become a much more analytical reader than I was when I fell in love with the genre as a kid. Because the rare books that engage my emotions this way, that have me passionately invested not ...more
The eighties were good (or "good") for more than just music and hair: they left a definite imprint on fantasy as well. Witness:

Starhawk ducked under the door flap of her tent, and held it aside for Fawn to pass. "I don't know if that's why the wizards finally died out," she said. "But I do know they weren't all evil like Altiokis. I knew a wizard once when I was a little girl. She was--very good."

Fawn stared at her in surprise that came partly from astonishment that Starhawk had ever been a litt
Robin Hobb
I do not understand why Barbara Hambly is not better known and celebrated more for her books about Sun Wolf and Starhawk. Recommended.
Oct 06, 2012 Ceecee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: medieval fantasy fans
*3.75 stars

This book has been sitting on my shelf for 10 years, the poor thing. I finally decided to read it because I read Graceling, and all the while I was thinking, if I'm going to read a book about strong women in a medieval fantasy, I might as well read The Ladies of Mandrigyn

You know when you read "The Ladies of Mandrigyn" you immediately think of warrior women, right? I thought it would focus on the women battling the villain's armies and defeating the Evil Wizard himself. But this book
The cover blurb is hilarious: “How sharper than a wizard’s spell is the wrath of a woman unmanned!”

It’s a nice little story, though, with strong feminist elements. Sun Wolf is a mercenary captain who is kidnapped by a group of women after he rejects their offer of employment. The women threaten him with death by torture if he doesn’t help them rescue their menfolk, who have been imprisoned by an evil wizard.

Starhawk is the mercenary who loves him, and she has her own set of adventures while tryi
I know what you're thinking. "Really? The barbarian hero's name is Sun Wolf? And this is a must read?"

Yep, it is. Barbara Hambly might have suffered from a severe attack of bad-naming-itis in this book, but it covers the gamut of issues that you like to see in "epic" fantasy, politics, an interesting problem in the social structure that has parallels with the real world, strong character development, and a truly interesting system of magic. I recommend the trilogy highly.
Olga Godim
A solid fantasy novel, if a bit more intense than I like. The author wouldn’t leave the hero alone, always tossing one problem after another at him, all of them causing him pain. The tension level is so high all the time, with no respite, that eventually I got tired of it. I felt so sorry for the hero that I decided to drop the rating from my original estimation of 4 stars down to 3, but it’s a purely subjective evaluation. Objectively, the writing is good, and the story flows easily.
Sun Wolf i
Mary JL
Nov 02, 2009 Mary JL rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy and adventure
Recommended to Mary JL by: I am a fan of this author
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
Altiokis, the Wizard King, is said to be deathless--he's known to be over 150 years old. He likes power and does not want any competition , so he has made every attempt to kill off any other wizards.

Now that Altiokis has conquered the city of Mandrigyn, the ladies of Mandrigyn approach Captain Sun Wolf, a cunning and so far sucessful mercenary. He refuses to get involved in amything which has to do with magic.

However, the Lady Sheera is not used to having anyone say "No" to HER, so she finds an
this is a reread and ordinarily i wouldn't write about it, especially since it is a very old book (copyright 1984).

so how does the book hold up? it's still pretty good. it has good, interesting women characters--many different ones, some good, some bad--a wide, wide range of women. it has men who change their attitudes about women and men who do not. the most central character is a man, but we spend pages and pages with a woman who is almost as important a character. the women change, too. and t
Erin (PT)
It's been a long time since I've reread The Ladies of Mandrigyn and I've changed a lot in the meantime, making it interesting to revisit the story with new eyes. Though I knew the book was a fond favorite, I don't think I ever realized before how much of the book I'd absorbed to carry back into the real world. At the time, there were few enough books in SFF--and further, few enough that I'd read--that were female and feminist in the way Ladies is. At the age I was when I first read Ladies, I sus ...more
This story fit more into my idea of a medieval society than a fantasy, especially as we had several glimpses of Starhawk’s younger years in a convent, where she apparently had taken vows as a nun.
Our story starts at the end… the end of a battle that is, where our hero, Sun Wolf, is relaxing with his troop after an epic battle which they won, as they decide what to do next. Part of the decision is made for them when the Wolf disappears after a night visit from a veiled lady (view spoiler)
The Ladies of Mandrigyn is utterly delightful. It is, in fact, exactly what I was looking for when I attempted Jennifer Roberson's Sword Dancer, which so disappointed me. The Ladies of Mandrigyn makes no pretensions to being anything more than a pure sword-and-sorcery novel, replete with heroic acts and larger than life characters played out against a highly romantic background, but the execution is flawless, the characters never cease being sympathetic (or devolve into charicatures) and, most i ...more
Buzz H.
One of Barbara Hambly's early novels, The Ladies of Mandrigyn pulled me in right away. Ms. Hambly is generally an excellent story teller, and she has a strong background in medieval history and cultural anthropology. This novel is something of the "Thelma and Louise" of fantasy, and it was exceptional for its time in the way that it dealt with women in the genre. In some ways it still is, sadly!

There are some original elements in the way that it handles magic as well. And Ms. Hambly comes up wit
I'm having a tough time choosing between a 3 or 4 star.

The writing flows smoothly, and there is just enough world building and environmental description that you don't ever get too bogged down. Overall Starhawk and Sunwolf were interesting characters, although I didn't feel like I got to know Wolf on the same level as Hawk even though we spent more time from his POV. The Ladies of Mandrigyn themselves all had decently fleshed out personas for secondary characters, some you'll like, some you'll h
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I needed some comfort reading and this fit the bill. Haven't read it for years, and it was nice to revisit the first adventure of Sun Wolf and Starhawk. I'd forgotten quite how well Hambly does horror elements, her nuuwa are a creation of genius. In the 1980s, zombies were not as de-rigeur as they are now, and the nuuwa were a horrific beast-of-man creation that creeped me out really badly as a teen. Still horrid now!
C. Scott Kippen
This was not a bad read, but I did not enjoy it as much as her Darwath books. However, considering its age, I was impressed that it did not do the normal fantasy trope of of questing to save the world. This is the story of Sun-Wolf, leader of a mercenary band, who is forced to lead band of women against an evil wizard. When I was reading this, I thought that this had to be influenced by The Black Company by Glen Cook, but upon referring to the copyright date, I see that they both came out in the ...more
Todd Mulholland
A fantasy book from another time, before grey morality and narrative ambiguity became de rigeur.

This is the story of the mercenary captain Sun Wolf, and his lieutenant Starhawk (Yes, the names are a little cheesy. I did say it was from another time. The 80's were awesome). It's a story of strife, of learning, and a story that brings a profound change in the two principles.

This is a very fun read, with the author bringing the reader on the journey and growth of the characters. The characters feel
Francesco Manno

The Conspiracy of Mandrigyn is a sword and sorcery novel atypical, because the main role in the events narrated is done by women. The first author to tread this path was CL Moore, who in the thirties of the last century was published in Weird Tales adventures Jirel of Joiry, wonderful horsewoman crimson foliage, blending fantasy and horror, and with great success.
But back to the novel.
Altiokis, a crafty necromancer, conquers the city of Mandrigyn, making s
In the late 80's at a party hosted by my wife's coworker we met and talked with Barbara Hambly, a friend of the host and a published writer I'd never heard of outside conversations with the host. She told us about herself and her writing and we compared notes on Jerry Pournelle as a writer and as a computer maven. (N.B. He was a Byte magazine columnist as well as a successful SF author). I didn't know Hambly's work so others in the conversation recommended I begin with either this book or the Da ...more
This is the book that's my inspiration, that got me started writing. I'm on my third incarnation, it's rubber-banded together, but I love this book!

Sun Wolf is a nercenary captain who Sheera Galernas tries to hire to free her city from an evil wizard. Not being a stupid man - nor suicidal - he refuses. He thinks that's the end of it. He's got a lot to learn about desperate women. She poisons him, kidnaps him and issues him an ultimatum - since his men wouldn't come, Sun Wolf can teach HER women
I can't really specify why, but this is one of my absolute favorite fantasy novels. Maybe it's because I first read it when I was 11, after a reading rampage of both good (Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock) and bad (Terry Brooks, David Eddings) fantasy and suddenly feeling "at home", finding something that really suited me. Or maybe it's because it really is a perfect mix of low fantasy, suspense, horror, and colorful characters.

Sunwolf and Starhawk's world may feel bleak and smal
Matt Fimbulwinter
This is a re-read. The last time I read this was 20 years ago or so.

To start with, Barbara Hambly has always been one of my favourite writers. Her stuff shaped me in its own way as much as Spider Robinson's Callahan books. The strong women that weren't in Tolkien or Piers Anthony were in her books. I've always loved the way Hambly writes warrior women.

Hambly's classic fantasy stuff has in the past year or so been re-released into e-books, so I'm going to go back through my old favourites. I do
Loved this. Ladies being active. Ladies driving the plot. And it was written in the early eighties? How is this book more progressive than some fantasy coming out now? I’m not saying it’s perfect, there were a few things that bugged me but overall, it was awesome.

I think what I loved most was that Sun Wolf character development followed the one of Mandrigyn, the city he was trapped in. He started out with a pedestal type of misogyny, where women (if they were noticed) were only to be protected a
Although it's pure sword and sorcery, it manages to be intellectually satisfying without being even slightly high brow.

In many ways, it struck me as a sort of inverse Lysastrata. Like in that play, the ladies the town get together and decide they're going to take care of business themselves - without the absent men. But instead of using womanly arts to solve their problems, here they're moving into the traditional male spheres and running businesses, taking care of farms, and (most importantly)
I began this book as a gap-filler between number four and number 5 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, which might be why I was less-than enthusiastic, epic books being a hard act to follow. In the first few lines I was put off-side by the characters names and the way the author kept referring to them as ‘The Wolf’ or ‘The Hawk’ – that sort of thing needs to be introduced rather than a given. I did eventually warm to the story and enjoy the adventure. I liked that the author included mention of ga ...more
Truly loved this book when I read it. It's been a few years, but it's still up there in my top favorites. Hambly is so good at realistically imagining not only her characters, but also their world. Feminist themes run throughout, although of course the main character is a man. Luckily for us, he's not the typical protagonist, since he's on the older side and also a mercenary warrior. Loved it!
The story wasn't bad, but I liked the idea of it. Women, determined to win back their city, their husbands and sons, defy the limitations imposed by those things they seek to win back. Gentle ladies kidnap a warrior using magic and sheer gumption, and then become warriors. And changed themselves unexpectedly. Women who stepped in to build ships and planes and keep the country running during war were often changed in ways they did not expect. Difficult to return to a restricted life when you've t ...more
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aka Barbara Hamilton

Ranging from fantasy to historical fiction, Barbara Hambly has a masterful way of spinning a story. Her twisty plots involve memorable characters, lavish descriptions, scads of novel words, and interesting devices. Her work spans the Star Wars universe, antebellum New Orleans, and various fantasy worlds, sometimes linked with our own.

"I always wanted to be a writer but everyone
More about Barbara Hambly...

Other Books in the Series

Sun Wolf and Starhawk (3 books)
  • The Witches of Wenshar (Sun Wolf and Starhawk, #2)
  • The Dark Hand of Magic (Sun Wolf and Starhawk, #3)
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