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Dragonsbane (Winterlands #1)

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  3,681 ratings  ·  133 reviews
When the Black Dragon seized the Deep of Ylferdun, young Gareth braved the far Winterlands to find John Aversin, Dragonsbane -- the only living man ever to slay a dragon. In return for the promise of the King to send help to the Winterlands, Aversin agreed to attempt the nearly impossible feat again.

With them, to guard them on the haunted trip south, went Jenny Waynest, a
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Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 23rd 2011 by Open Road (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mely
Hambly writes adults, a rarity in the fantasy genre; in particular, Dragonsbane is a depiction of middle-aged regret, of people who because of historical circumstances and personal situations will never achieve what they dream of, and somehow Hambly writes it in a way that's not depressing and that appealed to me even as an adolescent unsympathetic to the failure to achieve. Also, the dragons are cool.

Under no conditions read the sequels. In fact, let us agree that the publishing records lie and
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Jamie
A very nice traditional fantasy story that deliberately throws over a handful of clichés - for instance, our heroes are middle-aged lovers, prosaically named John and Jenny, and the dragon slayer is wry and academic rather than imposing and martial.

More typical is Gareth, the indignant court messenger who comes seeking a hero out of a ballad and finds a man as much involved with pig farming as lording. Also, the beautiful yet evil witch who has enthralled the king is a predictable villain. But I
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Wealhtheow
When a huge black dragon descends upon the Deep of Ylferdun, young Gareth sets out to find the Dragonsbane, the only man alive who has ever defeated a dragon. But Sir John Aversin is not what Gareth had hoped for—he’s a scruffy academic who is less concerned about honor than he is the health of his villagers’ pigs. And Aversin’s lady love is not what Gareth had expected either: a plain, middle-aged witch, who has borne Aversin two sons out of wedlock and is utterly unapologetic. Swallowing his m ...more
Eh?Eh!
Probably cheesy to some but an escapist gem. Maybe I love it because I first read it when I needed escape. Very easy to lose myself in Hambly's beautiful writing. Also, you know that musical phrase, that sunset on an empty beach, that gesture that can bring tears to your eyes? This book had many of those for me. Poignancy? Beauty? Romance in the sense of the movement, not the checkout counter paperbacks?

Plenty of action, psychological metaphors, humor. Still love this tale.
Matt
Jun 21, 2008 Matt rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes fantasy or romance
Shelves: fantasy
In this, one of her more recognizable works, Barbara Hambly demonstrates her great potential as an author and that she perhaps deserves more respect and recognition than she gets. 'Dragonsbane' is a well written, imaginative, and mature (in all the best and truest senses of the word) fantasy story with well drawn and complex characters. Additionally, Hambly spends a good deal of time demythologizing her mythology and the mythology of the faerie story and heroic epic in general, but manages to av ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Hey, this is really good! It doesn’t beat out The Ladies of Mandrigyn as my favorite Hambly, but that’s because Mandrigyn is awesome; this is a strong second. Please ignore the cover and blurb, though, as they appear designed to fool you into thinking this is a different sort of book from what it actually is. You’d never guess that Jenny is the main character, for instance. I’m not sure why the deception, as this will be immediately obvious to anyone who opens the book.

Jenny and John are not you
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HBalikov
I had never heard of Hambly but I am impressed. In the world of sword and sorcery, most authors find it convenient to go the "hack and slash" route with the beautiful maiden thrown in to make the hero "extra-heroic". Few are willing to invest what Tolkien did in creating a whole world that has humans and other intelligent creatures.

Hambly is more than able in this regard, giving us both a deep study of relationships and a threat to the order of the world. Her view of magic is complex and nuanced
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Margaret
Lord John Aversin is known as "Dragonsbane", for the dragon he killed long ago; when another dragon threatens the kingdom, Lord Gareth goes north to the Winterlands to find John and ask him for help. When Gareth and John go south, they are accompanied by the witch Jenny Waynest, John's lover and mother of his two sons, who has long been torn between her desire for more magical power and her love for John. Their encounter with the dragon, Morkeleb the Black, is only the start of the challenges th ...more
Tiffany Reisz
So freaking good. Love Jenny. Reminds me a little of Nora with the hard choices she had to make in life. Really appreciated the respect the author has for her characters.

Thoroughly enjoyable wizard book. First class.
Kathleen
3.5 stars for this fantasy, which I listened to (good narration).

The "Dragonsbane" is the hero of song and story, about whom bards sing ballads. He's the great warrior who slew a dragon ten years ago.

Gareth, a young nobleman from the king's court, is fond of dragon ballads. Idealistic -- and desperate — Gareth comes north to seek aid in killing a new dragon ravaging the king's southern territories. However, he is surprised at what he finds, for the legendary warrior — bane of the dragons — is
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Natalie
I know it's a cliche, but I love how Hambly creates engaging women characters in her fantasy books.
Oscar
Resulta difícil innovar dentro del campo de la fantasía épica, y más durante la década de los 80, cuando fue publicado este libro. La sombra de Tolkien es alargada y en esta época las dragonadas estaban a la orden del día, obras insulsas y planas la mayoría de las veces. El escenario básico era idéntico: joven que debe realizar un viaje iniciático, en busca de sí mismo y de un objeto y/o persona valiosos, tratándose por tanto de un personaje predestinado; secundarios de lujo que deben ayudarle a ...more
Adam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katherine Harbour
This is my favorite fantasy series about dragons. Barbara Hambly's medieval world is so detailed, you feel like you're there. Jenny Waynest is a woman who was taught a sort of backwoods sorcery and her lover John Aversin is the only man ever known to have slain a dragon. These two world-weary characters are invited to the king's court by an awkward but well intentioned prince named Gareth...only to find the court under the spell of a seductive sorceress named Zyerne. The characters are beautiful ...more
Lorena
Really terrific. This is my first Hambly book, and I was so impressed. I had to put the book down for a moment at page 172, and I was amazed to find that so much had been conveyed in so few pages, and yet the pacing never felt rushed, and the characters and the world they lived in seemed so fully fleshed out. The focus on "mature" lovers/adventurers was also a refreshing change from so much of fantasy, and the exploration of the internal war between the idealized self and the mundane self was th ...more
Algernon
My first Barbara Hambly book, and it is an entertaining discovery. An epic fantasy without huge armies clashing , without an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it threat , without bloated descriptions of dresses or foodstuff. It has instead a couple of mature and reluctant heroes, with a convincing loving relationship, it has a focus of personal introspection and painful life choices, it has a well done dragon - alien in body and mentality.

the book works well as a standalone, and deserves to be conside
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Heather S
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eden Celeste
Have you ever read one of those books that you enjoyed up until the ending and which point the author somehow manages to ruin it? Yeah, this was one of those books for me. It's a good book until the last chapter (or was that last two chapters?)... just don't read what is essentially the epilogue. Of course it's been so long since I read this book that I can no longer remember anything about it except what annoyed me so much at the end. So maybe don't read it.
Rachel Brown
Fifteen years ago, Jenny Waynest and John Aversin slew a dragon. Now they're middle-aged, with kids... and called upon to save the world when another dragon appears.

One of my very favorite fantasies. Wonderful characterization, witty dialogue, poignant personal and moral dilemmas, and a fantastic dragon.

It was written as a stand-alone, and has a perfect ending. Some terrible, depressing sequels were written 15 years later. Ignore them.
Lark
When a courtier comes riding into Jenny's path, flourishing his words and falling off his horse gallantly, she can't help but shake her head. Especially when she learns that he's there to convince Lord Aversin to slay a dragon for the kingdom. And as a witch and his lover, Jenny can't help but be dragged into this adventure.

Overall, a rather dull book. The characters read very world-weary and that translates into the book as well. Most of it is tromping through the wilderness to get to a place w
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Jade Lauron
There are two great "hero vs. dragon" books, the first is The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, and the second is this book. She made some credible sequels after her success with this book, but for the most part I'd rather let this book stand alone, as I believe it was originally intended.
Tamara
I read this book for the first time, when I was thirteen, and I must have re-read it a hundred times since. No book has affected me more deeply than this one. It offers so much insight into human nature, wraped up in the guise of the under appricated dime store high fantasy paperback.
Mothwing
I can't even say why, whether it's the magic, the world, the fact that the main character is a middle-aged witch who's trying to balance her life as a mother and her career in magic, the magic with its olfactory and msucial components, the fact that our manly hero is as much knight of the realm as pig farmer, the fact that our gallant prince valiant is a bookish short-sighted boy, the fact that our princess is tough and can handle herself in spite of her girlishness - I think it was everything. ...more
Brandon Landers
The story starts off very well and maintains a very mature feel. Not in the juvenile interpretation either, but a very adult story about adults dealing with circumstances in a way I could believe it given their characters. My only issue lies in the somewhat abrupt transitions and a number of sepentine twists in the story. they don't really distract from the story or feel Deus Ex Machina-ish, but they still frequently pop up without build up and seem like they were put there to dash expectation. ...more
Solim
I gotta admit that I read this because it was on a Sci-fi/ fantasy list for the best twist. The book was well written, paced right, had intriguing characters, world building was adequate, and the plot did not drag. So why the four stars? This book was entertaining but the ending kind of ruined it. There appears to be three sequels to this book but with the ending it had, I dont see a reason for continuing the story. I might pick up the next one mainly for the reasons I enjoyed this book for, but ...more
Lemunantu Mariman
This is actually a really interesting fantasy read. This book has witches, dragons, kings, and hero's, but is unlike the usual characters that so many fantasy novels have. It has a bit of a slow beginning, at least for me, but I couldn't put it down towards the end of it. The story has a main character who is actually an adult female (in her late 30's) and her struggle with trying to find herself and power, while fighting dragons and evil of course. The plot is strong, the character development ...more
Damond
I have always thought that a kind of unofficial golden age of fantasy was the 1970s into the mid-1980s. It might be because I grew up during that time and read a lot of the books my parents had on hand, as well as those I could get from the library. It was also a period where the genre thrived in film, too. This book was written at the tail end of that time, yet wears the pedigree of those that came before, and wears it pretty well.

Jenny Waynest is a mage who knows she isn't as powerful as she c
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Isil
Sur une trame de fantasy classique, Barbara Hambly - auteur dont j’adore la série policière mettant en scène un esclave affranchi, Benjamin Janvier – a réussi avec brio à utiliser les clichés du genre tout en les détournant habilement avec une petite dose d’humour. Vaincre un dragon ne se fait pas avec élégance. Il n’y a que le jeune Gareth, bercé d’illusions par ses ballades qui pense qu’il y a de la noblesse là dedans.

La véritable héroïne de ce récit, c’est Jenny. C’est le personnage le plus a
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Laura
I'm branching out some more, this time by hitting a recommendation that I've been meaning to read for forever. It's a stand-alone fantasy from the 80s that brilliantly depicts the flaws of human nature and how they relate to the struggle between good and evil. That the battle against evil happens not just externally but internally as well, and we influence each other for good or ill. Along with a whole lot of other insights into human nature and mortality.

For some reason I was really surprised t
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Alicia
I thought this book sounded okay when I picked bought it and was completely blown away. I could not put Dragonsbane down after I very quickly fell in love with the characters and world. I am often a little wary when beginning a new series because it means a new world with its own rules and its own creatures that I need to familiarize myself with. Usually it is either done very well or is a word vomit of information that can be difficult to absorb at the very beginning of a new book. This was an ...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
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More about Barbara Hambly...
Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) The Time of the Dark (Darwath, #1) Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, #1) The Armies of Daylight (Darwath, #3) Night's Edge

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“Dragonsbane, they called him.

Slayer of dragons.

Or a dragon, anyway. And, he'd later found out, not such a very big one at that.”
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