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

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  2,547 Ratings  ·  96 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
ebook, 312 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (first published 1984)
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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
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
Robin Hobb
Jan 29, 2014 Robin Hobb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not understand why Barbara Hambly is not better known and celebrated more for her books about Sun Wolf and Starhawk. Recommended.
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
Sep 22, 2012 Ceecee rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jamie Collins
Sep 21, 2010 Jamie Collins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Kelley Ceccato
Over the last four decades, conditions have improved for female characters in the fantasy genre -- namely, that we see more of them, and they're more likely to play significant heroic roles. Yet there's one thing above all others that we continue to struggle toward in the depictions of women in fantasy: VARIETY. Too many individual novels continue to follow the Smurfette Principle, with one exceptional woman surrounded primarily or exclusively by male characters, which creates an impression of t ...more
Oct 03, 2007 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Víctor Martín-Pozuelo
Barbara Hambly (San Diego, 1951) se dio cuenta de que iba a escribir Las señoras de Mandrigyn al comienzo de una clase de autodefensa para mujeres.

Es absolutamente imposible que un hombre hubiese podido escribir Las señoras de Mandrigyn.

Vale, es una perogrullada (porque el libro se ha escrito ya, ¡no puede ser de otra manera!); lo que quiero decir es que ningún autor podría haber desarrollado ninguna historia partiendo desde el punto del que partió Hambly para construir Las señoras de Mandrigyn.
William Leight
Mar 10, 2017 William Leight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half of “The Ladies of Mandrigyn” is a rather generic, if well handled, fable of female empowerment. The city of Mandrigyn has recently been conquered by the evil wizard-king Altiokis, who has hauled almost all the city’s men off to work in his mines. (It’s never entirely clear exactly why this is necessary, other than to make the plot possible.) In response, a clandestine group of women, overcoming the traditional Mandrigyn belief that a woman’s place is in the home, have determined to form a f ...more
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
Erin (PT)
May 06, 2009 Erin (PT) rated it it was amazing
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
Rachael L Moore
Feb 16, 2016 Rachael L Moore rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, fan
I almost wanted to give this four stars, but something about it was off.

We're introduced to some characters who are tough, successful mercenaries. Numerous times throughout the book we're deliberately reminded in very straightforward ways that they're, as a result, not the nicest of people. Their careers, after all, are based on killing people for money, and they've done brutal things.

Where do you go with this? You can play up the cool factor, the adventure or badassery of it. You can go with bl
Sep 13, 2013 Doris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Nov 01, 2012 Elsiekate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary JL
Oct 14, 2009 Mary JL rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 12, 2016 zjakkelien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-ebooks
This was a rather refreshing book, with a female mercenary who is really good at what she does, and a whole group of women learning that they can run businesses when their men are captured, and that end up decent soldiers as well. It also shows a bit how disconcerting this is to the whole of their society, which isn't used to women with agency. I found the relationships to be well balanced. Sun Wolf and Starhawk find out separately that they like each other in another capacity than professional, ...more
Buzz H.
Mar 25, 2013 Buzz H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf
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
May 08, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2013, bechdel
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!
Kimberley Shaw
Nov 30, 2016 Kimberley Shaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd discovered this book back in the 1980s! Nevertheless, I'm glad to have found this writer now, and look forward to reading her other books. Sure this book came out a while ago, but it's still well written, well worth reading, and has far more parallels with current politics than I'd wish.
Perfect? No.
Dated? Sure, but not in ways that matter.
I really had trouble getting into this, but it did get more interesting the more I got familiar with the characters... though I wasn't a fan of their constant bickering. lol. The romance was kind of rushed too, which wasn't the most convincing, in my opinion. But the story itself was lovely!!! :)
Johannes Herrmann
Mar 17, 2017 Johannes Herrmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
One of my favorite series from my favorite author. I love Hambly's treatment of magic, and her deep knowledge of medieval life shows through in the setting. I don't know how many times I've read this series, but I'll keep reading it every year or two.

The main two characters (Sun Wolf and Starhawk) are very different in personality and play off each other nicely. In general, most of the characters are believable - if not always likable. Each of the characters have weaknesses as well as strengths,
Shaitarn .
I can't remember where or when I found this book, but I'm so glad I did!
This is an old (originally published in 1984, I believe) sword and sorcery novel that deals with some familiar fantasy tropes without ever descending into cliché. The two POV characters, Sun Wolf and Starhawk, are, perhaps, stock fantasy types (the former barbarian and former nun working as warriors), but they are fully realised, three dimensional characters who thoroughly gripped my imagination.
The world building is equall
Sun Wolf, feared captain of a band of mercenaries, recently broke a siege and is celebrating over the spoils of war when he receives a note from Sheera Galernas. Thinking it nothing else than a proposition (because who doesn’t want to join the desirable captain’s harem?), he shrugs it off. But Mandrigyn has been a captive of Altiokis, the evil immortal wizard, and the prospect of a new job intrigues Sun Wolf.

Sheera Galernas is tall, beautiful, charismatic--and deadly. Her demand is pretty simp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 05, 2015 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: female-fighter
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
Matt Fimbulwinter
Nov 03, 2013 Matt Fimbulwinter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting much of this book. I had picked it up at a used book store YEARS ago & recently picked it to read as a fun, fanciful palate-cleanser before I take a dive back in to non-fiction. I thought I was in for some cheesy sword & sorcery but instead I got a really awesome adventure novel with an interesting cast of characters and a whole lot of heart! Seasoned liberally with unapologetically eighties fantasy flair, too, of course. (The main character's n ...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...

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Sun Wolf and Starhawk (3 books)
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