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The Darwath Trilogy by Barbara Hambly

Review by Mike

The Time of the Dark
The Walls of Air
The Armies of Daylight

These three rather thin (for fantasy) books tell the tale of how two normal persons from southern California due to a cosmic coincidence find themselves transferred to a medieval world, were they have to fight for their lives against the onslaught of a strange, monstrous race of alien beings called the Dark. Yes, youíre right. This is pretty standard fantasy, but letís not behave like hasty humans and judge the books based on so little info.

The World
The world of Darwath is the usual medieval type, and is mainly populated by normal human beings. There is also a race of creatures that roughly resemble the Neanderthal men that once populated our planet. None of the standard fantasy races, like elves and dwarfs, appear. But we have the Dark. Little is known about them in the beginning, except that they almost conquered humankind once in the distant past, before they were driven back to their dwellings under the ground. Now they have come back, and the ill prepared nation of Darwath is paralysed by their attacks. Our heroes have to seek long lost knowledge about the nature of the Dark, and how to defeat them.

The Characters
The story is told from the POV of the two persons from our world - Gil, a Ph. D. student in history, and Rudy, a drifter with no goal in life. They both seem to fit poorly into the world of Darwath, but the desperate situation make them develop talents they were not aware of. This development and the fact that they are no model citizens make them interesting to read about. There are also some good sub-characters, like the mighty wizard Ingold, and the cool warrior Icefalcon. All in all, very decent characterisation.

The Plot
In many ways this is a detective story. From the beginning we know next to nothing about the Dark. They plagued the country of Darwath three thousand years before, but almost all knowledge of that attack has been lost over the centuries. Gil, who is good at historical research, soon becomes the detective, and with the help of Ingold, she slowly starts to fit the pieces together in this puzzle. But itís not until the last book that you fully understand whatís going on.

The Grade
In conclusion, this is a quick, easy read with an interesting plot and enjoyable characters. I give it four out of five amulets.

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