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Magistrates of Hell (James Asher #4)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  297 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
James Asher finds himself once more in alliance with vampire Don Simon Ysidro, as their investigations takes them to far-off Peking . . . October, 1912. James Asher, his wife Lydia, and the old occultist and vampire-hunter Dr Solomon Karlebach have journeyed to the new-born Republic of China to investigate the rumour that the mindless Undead – the Others that even the vamp ...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published July 1st 2012 by Severn House Publishers
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Community Reviews

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Sep 19, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, horror, vampire, 2012
Review from Badelynge.
You wait 15 years for a new vampire laced James Asher book and then two come along almost at once with Magistrates of Hell following on neatly from last year's Blood Maidens. Retired spy James Asher sails to China in 1912 to investigate the discovery of a body very like the mutated vampires he encountered in St Petersberg. Accompanied by his wife and Dr Solomon Karlebach, Asher bases his investigation within the cosmopolitan confines of the Legation Quarter in Peking under
Erin (PT)
Apr 20, 2012 Erin (PT) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nilchance, Casey
I can't pretend to be at all rational about Barbara Hambly. When I read her books, it's not just about the pleasure of reading a really well-put-together story, it's the way that reading one of her books puts a hot iron to my own creative impulses. She writes not only worlds that I gladly get completely lost inside, but worlds that make me want to create ones of my own.

Though I should have known/remembered, it was a surprise to realize/remember that, though Hambly's vampire novels have been pub
After decades of spycraft, Asher chose to leave the clandestine war behind in favor of a history professorship. But he and his scientist wife Lydia stumbled upon a terrible truth--the existence of vampires living among us, hidden by glamours and humans' disbelief in the supernatural. Over the years they became troublingly close with a particularly old and chivalrous vampire, one Don Ysidro. Each of the three is drawn to the others, but Asher and Lydia are also repelled by Ysidro's murderous natu ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Jacqie rated it really liked it
I'm always happy to read anything by Barbara Hambly. I really like Ysidro, her 500 year old Spanish vampire. He didn't actually have too much to do in this book, though, except for giving some hints and helping rescue a damsel in distress at the very end. I would have liked to see more of him.

The book is mostly from the view of Asher, a bookish-looking former spy who has gone to Peking with an old vampire hunter/teacher because of disconcerting evidence that "Others" may be in China. I'm still n
Lynn Calvin
Jul 21, 2012 Lynn Calvin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-read
I like these because I love the married couple main characters. This is early 20th century (1912) and this one is set mostly in China. I also like that this isn't a romance where the romantic interest is with the vampire. Start with the first book though.
Jan 23, 2016 Sandi rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, want, lib
Good, not great. You can see the outline with which the author uses to craft the plot but the transitions are ragged. First she gets the Ashers to China and of course James has been there before in his position as a master spy. (view spoiler) ...more
Jamie Collins
Asher, Lydia and the vampire Don Simon Ysidro visit Beijing just before WWI, tracking down rumors of monsters (something more monstrous than the vampires) in the countryside. The reader is rather plopped down into the political situation without much explanation, but honestly to describe the intricacies would have made this book something other than the supernatural thriller it was.

This is perhaps the weakest book of the series, but it’s richly written, and I very much like these characters. The
James Asher, former spy; his wife Lydia, a medical researcher; their new baby Miranda; and James's former teacher, Rabbi Solomon Karlebach from Prague, all travel to Peking, China in 1912, on the trail of vampires. Or, actually, not!vampires – the main bad guys in this book are more zombie-like, mindless and breeding uncontrollably. As always, James's main goal is to try and keep the various governments of the world from using the vampires as weapons in the lead-up to WWI. Once in Peking, they'r ...more
Jan 08, 2014 Julia rated it liked it
Shelves: vampires, horror
I was looking for a horror book through my local library. They had this on the shelf, and I saw that it had some good reviews, so I decided to give it a chance. I knew that this is book 4 in a series, and I have not read any of the previous books. I don't think that I missed that much by skipping the first 3 books. I know I missed some back story on the characters, but I feel this was a stand alone story. It was set in China, in 1912. It concerns a hunt for a new type of vampire.

I usually do not
Julie Austin Edwards
Dec 19, 2015 Julie Austin Edwards rated it really liked it
I really like this series. I read the first and second book quite a few years ago and thought they were the beginning of a great series. Then I lost track of the author until recently when I saw Darkness on His Bones on the new book shelf of my local library. After reading that book, I decided to go back for more. The Magistrates of Hell is worth a read. Asher, Lydia and Simon are back, with new characters like Karlebach, Miranda, Mizukami and the "Others". My only complaint is the use of Japane ...more
Jackie Throngard
Oct 03, 2012 Jackie Throngard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best of the series.
Aug 03, 2015 robyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: vampires
I love Barbara Hambly in general, and Ysidro in specific. Unfortunately, this one felt like a placeholder to me, and one particular incident toward the end was very evocative of the Dragonsbane series.

To my mind, it seems as if Ysidro might make the choice to rise above his nature and become something completely other, just as Morkeleb did. And that would be a welcome development. Just, with the thin story, and that similarity to DB being so obvious, Magistrates felt as though it was phoned in.
Eleanor With Cats
Sep 18, 2015 Eleanor With Cats rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries, vampires
I got stuck in the middle of this one for....a year actually. Because the Others are scary and I'm heartsick at how Karlebach keeps getting revealed to be less of a nice person. It makes sense, if there's a good vampire like Ysidro, or maybe more than one, then it's realistic to point out the dark side of the obsession that leads vampire hunters to travel around the world looking for creatures other people don't even believe in to kill them and then escape. All the Lydia parts and the last half ...more
Julie H.
Aug 13, 2012 Julie H. rated it liked it
Shelves: vampire-fiction
Magistrates of Hell is a decent period story that tells the tale of a former British spy's trip to China in 1912 to investigate reports of undead beings, referred to as the Others, who are feared even by vampires. Accompanied by his former mentor Professor K, the sixteenth-century Spanish vampire Don Simon Xavier Christian Marodo de la Cadena-Ysidro (a.k.a. Ysidro), and his clever wife Lydia and infant daughter, James Asher's investigation is compounded by fear of recognition by individuals he d ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
I have been reading Barbara Hambly's novels since they were first published and like other reviewers I was excited to see she had finally returned to James Asher and Don Simon Isidro. Her first novel in this series 'Those Who Hunt the Night' is one of the best vampire books I have read. It's sequel 'Travelling with the Dead' was not quite as good but still very enjoyable. Sadly, I was disappointed with 'Blood Maidens' and this made me hesitate in purchasing Magistrates of Hell when it was first ...more
Shawn Spjut
Jan 27, 2013 Shawn Spjut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon Hambly much the same way I do a lot of my reading material; just plain dumb luck. Seriously! I haunt the library shelves until something catches my eye; if the jacket looks interesting (and everyone has their clothes still intact) I'll toss the book on a pile of other volumes which have caught my attention, lug them home, read and judge.

Why wait until I'm home before reading and making a decision whether it's a keeper you might ask? Because reading a book is a lot like trying on
Oct 05, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
Yay!! a new James Asher/Don Simon Ysidro vampire mystery-adventure. The year is 1912 and James, accompanied by his old friend Rebbe Karlebach are in Peking to investigate very strange creatures. The Others are not vampires, but are formerly human and capable of infecting (and transforming) humans through blood exchange. They are mob creatures who lose their human intelligence and they have infested an abandoned coal mine outside Peking. The Others and the Magistrates of Hell(rumored to be the va ...more
Nov 08, 2012 S.collier rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
I was torn between giving this 3 stars or 4. Basically, I like the main characters Ysidro the vampire, James Asher the retired spy, and his wife, Lydia. I like Barbara Hambly's style of writing, although in this book it seemed rushed and perhaps not her best. The whole precept of the book was, essentially, to force the 3 characters together. I'm fine with that, but the story got too convoluted to follow for a while. The murder mystery/political power struggle bit was unnecessary and, at the end, ...more
Apr 06, 2014 Keith rated it really liked it
Shelves: vampires, fantasy
"Magistrates of Hell" takes James Asher to Peking in 1912. He forms an alliance with the vampire Don Simon Ysidro. They are in Peking to investigate the possibility that mindless Undead -the Others have begun to multiply in caves west of the city. The hunt begins, while somewhere else in Peking a group of vampires known as the 'Magistrates of Hell' hide out with an agenda of their own.
Dec 05, 2013 Saralee rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of Barbara Hambly, and of this vampire series of hers, and this fourth installment was really great. The story was fast-paced and exciting. The Chinese setting was fascinating and detailed -- world building is something I particularly enjoy in Hambly's books and this was just as immersive as any other world she's created or researched.

I loved the Chinese rat-legend elements (reminded me a little of Bride of the Rat God, which I thoroughly enjoyed), the twisty plot, and the developm
Dec 14, 2013 Deborah rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

The Magistrates of Hell is the fourth book in the James Asher series and the best so far. James, Lydia, and Don Simon travel to Peking where, to their surprise, they encounter the Others, previously thought to be found only in Prague. The story of how the Others got to Peking, and their connection to James's mentor Rebbe Karlebach, was heart-breaking; their connection to the Mistress of Peking, chilling.

In this book, Hambly has done an excellent job of integrating her vampire mythos int
Jul 20, 2012 Jan rated it did not like it
I looked forward to the latest in Hambly's Vampire series for a long time. Sadly I was really left disappointed. The first two books in the series were really cool but the third was just a half hearted attempt to get something out for the fans. This final book is a pretty cynical effort. The characters have been recycled as has the plot. The only difference is she has transported them to China and changed the names. This latest offering and first book" Those Who Hunt the Night"are carbon copies ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Yan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Oh God, I'm an emotional wreck. YSIDRO!!! (view spoiler) Yes, I know he's a killer thousands of times over, but I have a Don Simon-shaped problem.
Feb 19, 2014 Angela rated it really liked it
I do love Barbara Hambly's works, so it'd take a real gaffe to get a poor rating from me. But part of what I respect so much about this series is the attention to historical detail and the unflinching take on vampires. No twisting the rules to allow for daylight or love-lives here thank you very much.
Having read pretty much all her work over the years I'm starting to see themes that repeat through different genres, which I find interesting, particularly around mutations, deserts, short sightedne
Julia Hendon
Jan 31, 2013 Julia Hendon rated it liked it
Another enjoyable entry in the series but the basic conflict seemed very similar to the three earlier ones. The new setting, early 19th century Beijing was a nice change but yet again former agent James Ashur has to keep the power hungry governments of Europe and now Asia from trying to create a human weapon based on the blood borne disease that creates vampirism. Nevertheless, the main characters are appealing and worth spending time with.
I was a little disappointed in this one: they're in China for a thin reason; there's almost no Ysidro, and Hambly has introduced zombie vampire things. I hoped for more of a murder mystery (since that's the way it started), but got a lot of confusing Chinese clans and Lydia running around digging up gossip. And Asher and Ysidro in jeopardy. Again. And Lydia having to be saved. Again. Meh.
Dec 16, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing
Again the James asher series does not disappoint. You know you have successfully hooked an audience when they can not put down a book without immediately going onto the next in the series.
I dare say I will hate the day I read the last book in the series as bittersweet as it will be fraught with much pleasure.

I am now a devote fan of the author!
Jul 23, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vampires, horror
This time Hambly takes her vampires to China and the associated myths of the undead there. Personally I would have liked to see more actual Chinese vampires rather than just what the locals think. It's been a long time since the last James Asher novel so I'm happy to see more of them.
Lisa Keipp
Nov 12, 2012 Lisa Keipp rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
Normally, I like Barbara Hambly's work, so I picked it up on author's credentials alone. While the history is sound, this book is just too contrived for me - stiff characters, unhappy prose - just had to put it down. Sorry, Ms. Hambly, but I'm going to have to skip this one.
Nov 24, 2012 Claire rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2012
Lots of sparkling scenes but they haven't quite coalesced into a whole for me on first read. Maybe not enough Lydia in this book? I shall re-read later and reassess.
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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

James Asher (6 books)
  • Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, #1)
  • Traveling with the Dead (James Asher, #2)
  • Blood Maidens (James Asher, #3)
  • Kindred of Darkness (James Asher, #5)
  • Darkness on his Bones (James Asher, #6)

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