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The Time of the Dark

(Darwath #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,037 ratings  ·  207 reviews
A California medieval scholar is pulled into a far-off magical world--and a fight to save mankind--in this novel by a New York Times-bestselling author.
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
ebook, 263 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Open Road Media Science & Fantasy (first published April 12th 1982)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  5,037 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy, own
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews.

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, Id loved Donaldsons 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.

Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of classic fantasy

Blog post with links at:

A recent read of Those Who Hunt the Night led me to one of Hamblys 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 Anthonys Apprentice Adept series, Terry Brooks Landover, Jack L. Chalker's Dancing Gods series, Stephen R. Donaldsons Thomas Covenant, Guy Gavriel Kays Fionavar Tapestry, Andre Nortons Witch World, to name ones I
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
Mike Shevdon
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
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.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is excellent fun, a traditional portal fantasy of the sort I hadnt read in years. As far as Hamblys books go, I didnt love it to pieces like The Ladies of Mandrigyn, it doesnt turn tropes on their heads like Dragonsbane, and I doubt the characters will prove as memorable to me as in either of those books, but its an exciting adventure nonetheless.

The book has a bit of a slow start, as we meet two 20-somethings Gil, a grad student, and Rudy, a motorcycle painter living in southern
Pam Baddeley
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
Unusual blend of fantasy and horror, with two (80s) contemporary characters persuaded to help in a last ditch struggle against Lovecraftian type monsters in another parallel world. This series has it all: magic, warriors, monsters, edge of the seat suspense, political struggles, romance. Flawed characters and the non obvious e.g. who ends up paired with whom. I first read it a long time ago and have re-read it a few times since, latest re-read August 2020.
I first started reading Hambly by reading her fantasy. Though, this book was not one of the ones I first read. As I got older, I think in many ways, her historical fiction is a bit better. Just a bit. Not that the fantasy is bad or anything.

The Time of the Dark does combine both history and fantasy. Two people from our world cross the void into a fantasy world that is losing to the very, very bad things. One of those people, Gil, is getting her PhD in history and so we get the history prof's
Jun 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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 ...more
Shalini Nemo
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who like Fantasy with horror
Definitely enjoyed this. Slow start, but picked up in the middle. Moving on to the next instalment now. There's some mystery surrounding the creatures and the history of that world.
I like Ingold - he's just like Gandalf. I keep hearing his lines in Sir Ian McKellen's voice. I like the scholarly woman becomes a sword-fighter, and the aimless bodywork painter (view spoiler).
If you watched the movie Pitch Black, these creatures seems to follow the bioraptors'
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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
Nov 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, done, ebook, fantasy
I enjoyed it as I read it, but I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the series.
Lexxi Kitty
Id only ever read Star Trek books by this author. And a good bunch of them. Several of which I actually liked well enough. I occasionally like seeing what authors who write in other peoples universes are like in their own created universes. Oddly this never seems to work, both ways (as in, there are authors Id read and really enjoyed books by who I then spot theyd written one or more Star Trek books, invariably, Ill hate their Star Trek books (or other media-tie-in book); or Ill love the ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
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 ...more
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy, horror
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....
Eric Bahle
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, weather
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
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 ...more
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
Douglas Cook
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 fearshe 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
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Scholar Gil and painter/biker Rudy get pulled through a Portal to help a wizard hold off the Dark.

I so love this book (and the series). I vividly remember reading this for the first time back in high school. It was my 'emergency book' - the one you haul around in your purse for months just in case you're ever without a book (I'm not the only one who does that, right?). I started it about a half hour before the school bus came and it was torture to put it down.

The characters are a delight: a
Nathaniel Lee
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Christine (AR)
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
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,
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, feminist
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 ...more
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fantasy
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
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed these books. First published in the 1980s, there are a few things we wouldnt 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 its still a great journey. The enemy is creepy. The heroes are stalwart and the world-building is good. I ...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.
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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

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)

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“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.” 3 likes
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