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The Time of the Dark (Darwath #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  3,521 ratings  ·  109 reviews
As a student of medieval history, Gil Patterson is a woman familiar with dark stories. She knows well the Crusades, the Black Death, and the other horrors of the Middle Ages, but it is another kind of atrocity that has begun to haunt her dreams. Gil dismisses the dreams until a wizard appears in her apartment.
Paperback, 266 pages
Published April 12th 1982 by Del Rey Books (first published 1982)
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Dec 11, 2014 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of classic fantasy

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A recent read of Those Who Hunt the Night led me to one of Hambly’s early series, The Time of the Dark. First published in 1982, it has the feel of many of the ‘crossworlds fantasy’ books so popular in that time period (Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series, Terry Brooks’ Landover, Jack L. Chalker's Dancing Gods series, Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry, Andre Norton’s Witch World, to nam
I made the mistake of reading this novel (and this series) after seeing the second Aliens movie (which is my favorite of all the Alien films). When I was younger, I read a lot Stephen King, but only because everyone else at school was reading it and it irritated my mother (or so I thought). After a couple of years on a steady diet of horror, I became bored and nothing was frightening or thrilling any longer.

I picked up The Time of the Dark, mostly because it was another story along the lines of
Once, long ago, I recall walking through the Waldenbooks bookstore at my local mall, trying to find something new to read. After having crammed everything Middle-Earth related into my brain, I needed a new fix of epic fantasy adventure. Sure, I’d loved Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books, read Moorcock, and begun The Belgariad with Eddings, but I was looking for something a bit different. And that is when I saw the cover of The Time of the Dark.

Obviously, my attention was caught by the image of a
Mike Shevdon
This is a book I return to, again and again.

It is my comfort read: the book I pick up when I am too tired to read something new. That sounds odd given the subject matter, but within moments of picking it up, Hambly's prose is invisible to me and I am trudging down the road with the refugees, blinded by snow, freezing and wondering what's out there in the darkness....

I can recommend this book on so many levels. The characters are people you come to know, like friends. Their voices become familiar
Barbara Hambly's books do things for me which very few fantasy authors do.

First, she puts female characters in leading roles of strength, intelligence, and power. Even other female authors tend to continue relegating women to roles as side-interests to a story rather than the main starring role. Barbara Hambly isn't afraid to do that. She also fleshes out her ladies with multiple character traits, helping me to find bits and pieces of each one that I can empathize and relate to, unlike most woo
Similar to the Windrose Chronicles, a young educated woman from our world is thrust into a medieval world of magic and danger. She, a chance-met biker named Rudy, and the greatest magician of the realm travel together to defeat the mysterious Dark beings that are rapidly destroying life and civilization as they know it. I really liked how aware some of the characters were that their society was teetering on the brink of losing its knowledge, art and hard-won cohesion. The more insightful were ve ...more
3.5 stars. I almost gave this one four stars, but decided to stick with 3.5 as it just didn't pull me in like some of the other books I have read recently (The Warded Man by Peter Brett and Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross to name just two recent reads that I would highly recommend). That said, Barbara Hambly is an excellent writer and I will certainly read the next book in the trilogy.
Even if this book was utter crap (and it wasn't), I would still rate it highly simply for Barbara Hambly's eloquent readability. She writes prose like most people breathe, never a wasted word or an awkward sentence.

Very briefly, two folks from our world (well, from the 1980s) get ported over to a medieval, magical world by a wizard who is a bit Gandalf and a bit his own character. While adapting to this new world, Rudy and Gil are drawn into a conflict with legendary creatures, apparently inten
Eric Bahle
Years ago, for Christmas, I received a giant stack of fantasy books. They were all new (a luxury for my family at the time) and the whole Darwath trilogy was in there. I was hooked on this book from the opening scene, and I've read all of them several times since.

It was one of the first stories I read that was fantasy but without the 'shiny epic' feel. It's grounded in a twentieth century reality that makes the magic and monsters more vivid. Hambly's heroes tend to be the misfits, outcasts, and
May 18, 2011 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans only!
Shelves: fantasy
The Time of the Dark has a general premise that I find intriguing. I like books whose plot features a person from modern day being transported to another world. Therefore, I snapped up this book. I was not disappointed.

The Plot

A graduate student named Gil (I think it's short for Gillian, so it's pronounced "Jill") dreams about a faraway place being attacked by indescribable and dark creatures.

It turns out that this land actually exists in another universe and she and an inadvertent tag-along n
The first time I read this book I was in my early twenties. I found the Dark were quite frightening, however rereading it in my thirties the Dark didn't alarm me at all. In fact I felt sympathetic towards them.

The thing I like about the trilogy is the mystery involved; why have the Dark risen, why do they want Ingold, will memories reveal the secret to defeating them, and how are ancient magical artifacts used against them?

I didn't mind the training in combat and magic. The theory behind the mag
I love this book. Obviously: I gave it five stars. It is not literature, but it is a very fine book; especially for a first time novel in the fantasy/horror genre written in the 1970's and published in the early 80's.

Specific, I know. But it's a really fun book.

The main crux of the story is two modern day American people in their twenties being sucked into an alternate universe on another world that is very swords-and-sorcery medieval; a world that is at the beginning of a war with these.... thi
I first read this series in (cough) 1986 at the age of 14 or so and it gripped me and scared me witless in equal measures. Rereading it as an adult, it doesn't scare me quite as much, but it's still a wonderful series with well drawn characters including one of the best gandalf-type wizards in contemporary fantasy, all the better because he is NOT infallible.

I think one of the best dynamics in this particular world is the uneasy relationship between the church and the wizard community and the wa
This one was a free, promotional copy of the first in the Darwath Trilogy, in order to hype the "new" (at the time I got it, back in 1996) book in the same realm. A fantasy, of a type I generally enjoy, wherein our real world in some way collides or connects with some other realm of possibility. In this case, the realm of Darwath, a sort of parallel world. Darwath is rather medieval (carts and horses, nobles and peasants, castles and kings). But it has magic, and it has The Dark. It had a good p ...more
I just finished reading this for what must be the tenth time. I purchased this (now well worn) paperback when it was first published in 1982. I bought it for two reasons - the cover of a wizard sitting at a modern day kitchen table and the blurb on the back which described two ordinary people from 1982 Earth being swept into another world of medieval and magic. I loved it the first time I read it and I was pleased to discover that I still love it all these years later. (It is book one of The Dar ...more
This is a great fantasy series that occasionally made me go oooooo over a turn of phrase or simile. (they were THAT good). I kept thinking that some of the things she said were so perfect that they should be idioms. But this is still a fun, scary fantasy read...just right for the beach or late at night on the sofa. Lots of characters to love and to hate but all with good motivations for being the way they are. (read the whole series and you will see what I mean.) Ingold is a cooler version of Ga ...more
I went looking for a 'better' or re-issued edition of the paperback and discovered that in March 2011, nearly all my favorite Barbara Hambly novels were released as ebooks! I'll be buying this one when I get home tonight. I'm a bit disappointed in the coverart for the ebook editions, but it's the content that I'm most interested in.
It's a great world, a great cultural setting, a great set of supporting characters, a great Big Bad (although I have to confess I keep thinking the Dark Ones are just Nocturne from the game League of Legends). The best part, though? Hambly absolutely nails the women characters in this book. I am so used to high fantasy that depicts the go-to stereotypes of the shieldmaiden or the sorceress or the noble woman with pretty dresses. This book actually makes an effort to express the women in it as pe ...more
Barbara Hambly always writes good books. This one is no exception.

Take a couple of ordinary people--one a graduate student, another a motorcycle rider--and have them come face to face with a wizard from an alternate universe. The wizard is out to keep his promise to a dead king to save his baby heir, and he needs help. Of course the student and biker cross back over with him. Of course the student turns out to be a whiz at weaponry and the biker...

The biker falls in love with the baby's mother,
M.A. Kropp
Much as I have always loved Barbara Hambly's work, I've not read the Dawarth books until now. Mainly because I had the last two of the initial trilogy and was waiting until I found the first one to read them. I eventually found it, but by then my to-read shelf had grown a life of its own and I just never pulled this one out. Until now.

And I was not disappointed. As always, Ms. Hambly spins a darn good tale, with action and suspense a-plenty. Though most of the book is set in an alternate world o
Douglas Cook
Reading this book makes me want to read the next one. I got quite attached to the characters as they developed.

First Sentences "GIL KNEW THAT IT was only a dream. There was no reason for her to feel fear—she knew that the danger, the chaos, the blind, sickening nightmare terror that filled the screaming night were not real; this city with its dark, unfamiliar architecture, these fleeing crowds of panic-stricken men and women who shoved her aside, unseeing, were only the vivid dregs of an overloa
Nathaniel Lee
Jun 25, 2007 Nathaniel Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy, apocalyptic fiction, and writers.
Shelves: fantasy
Barbara Hambly remains one of my favorite authors of all time. She has a real flair for language. When I read, I am always subconsciously editing the book, examining the writing for strengths and weaknesses, things I can use in my own writing. Hambly is one of the few authors where I will pause and think to myself, "Wow, that was a really well-phrased sentence."

The story itself is highly enjoyable high-fantasy end-of-the-world type stuff. I like this trilogy better than most because it avoids al
Julie Davis
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 medieval scholar Gil Pa
Christine (AR)
This book came out in 1982 and I must have read it not long after that (my copy has a cover price of $2.50. hee.). There are three books in this series; apparently, it's called the Darwath Trilogy.

Not the best sci-fi series I've ever read, but it has elements that I loved at that adolescent time of my life, specifically main characters from our world who never quite fit in getting called upon to save a distant world where they are exactly what is needed.

The fantasy world is post-apocalyptic, wi
Cass Morrison
I had forgotten how much I enjoy Barbara Hambly until I got this in a HumbleBundle. The style is literate and engaging; very few current authors bold my attention and draw me into their world. I immediately bought the bundled trilogy so I can find out what happens.
I just reread this after it has set on my shelf for a good 10 years since my last read and I was very pleased with how it has held up. The story moves along crisply with little time wasted but it doesn't move so fast that you don't build an appreciation and empathy for the main characters. The best thing though is Barbara Hambly writes with enough grit to satisfy the realist in me but she also brings in enough emotion and drama so the story elevates above the mundane drama of the daily lives of ...more
This was one of those series of books I remember seeing on the shelves for years but I never read them. I was too obsessed with what I consider to be the classics (Tolkien, Donaldson, Herbert, etc.) to ever read them. Plus they were so ubiquitous on book store shelves I figured they must be yet another fluff fantasy the publisher was trying to foist on fans. So, I finally got around to reading this the other day. I was pleasantly surprised. They're very well written and I enjoyable. The neat thi ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed these books. First published in the 1980’s, there are a few things we wouldn’t buy now, plus inconsistencies; a few rough edges. (I was disappointed a little by the incomprehensible behaviour of characters toward the end, but I can see why the author did that). The story pretty much pans out how you guess from the first chapter in the first book, but nevertheless it’s still a great journey. The enemy is creepy. The heroes are stalwart and the world-building is good. I partic ...more
Wow, a very gripping book! This book really pulls you in from the start and keeps you.

This is an interesting conglomeration of high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, and science fiction. The author's roots in history show in her ability to create a culture unfamiliar to the contemporary protagonists.

The age of this novel shows in its use of idiom and slang ("the fuzz," "hundred thousand dollar house "). It makes the characters somewhat more difficult to relate to. However, as a suspense novel, it
It was the cover that caught my attention: a stereotypical cloaked wizard sitting in a modern kitchen with his staff in one hand, a beer in the other, and a bag of potato chips at his feet. Along with the mostly positive reviews on GR I thought I'd give it a try to clear away my reading funk.

It didn't quite clear the funk but it was an interesting if at times confusing read. It starts off well enough with graduate student Gil(pronounce Jill? I kept reading it with a hard 'g') and good-guy artist
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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

Darwath (5 books)
  • The Walls of Air (Darwath, #2)
  • The Armies of Daylight (Darwath, #3)
  • Mother of Winter (Darwath #4)
  • Icefalcon's Quest (Darwath #5)
Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) Dragonsbane (Winterlands #1) Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, #1) The Armies of Daylight (Darwath, #3) The Silent Tower (Windrose Chronicles, #1)

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“The question is always the answer, provided you want the answer badly enough.” 53 likes
“She barely hid a smile. “That’s a wizard’s answer if I ever heard one.” “Meaning that mages deal in double talk?” His grin was impish. “That’s one of our two occupational hazards.” “And what’s the other one?” He laughed. “A deplorable tendency to meddle.” 0 likes
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