Author Spotlight: Barbara Hambly

By Jennifer K.

Do you like mysteries? Historical fiction? Epic fantasy? Horror? Wait, do you like Star Wars? How about vampires?

Well, let me introduce you to Barbara Hambly, one of my all-time favorite authors, who writes all of those kinds of books – and does it damn well.

I discovered Hambly when I was a teenager and I think I’ve read almost everything she’s ever written (although she is so prolific that some may have slipped through my fingers). I love her tight plots, her deep worldbuilding, her ability to surprise me with twists and turns, and her thought-provoking and three-dimensional characters.Here are a few of my favorites:

A Free Man of Color

Benjamin January practiced as a physician in Paris. After the death of his wife he returns home to New Orleans. There he is in constant danger, because he is a dark-skinned black man, and this is the early 1830s. New Orleans is a city with a large population of free colored people, who were (relatively) tolerated by the French. But the city was acquired by the United States in 1803, and Americans are far more likely to seize a black man and sell him into slavery. This first of an excellent series finds January investigating the murder of a courtesan, while navigating the city’s complex web of race, class, and cultural expectations. If you like great mysteries or great historical fiction, pick this series up.

The Ladies of Mandrigyn

Mercenary captain Sun Wolf wakes to find that he has been drugged and kidnapped to Mandrigyn, a city-state where women have always lacked power – until now. When the city was conquered by an evil wizard-king and the men all shipped off to the mines, the women emerged to take over the government, the economy – and Sun Wolf’s life. They want him to teach them how to fight. (Sample dialogue: “This is a sword. You hold it from this end.”) This novel is a rip-snorting sword-and-sorcery adventure, full of action and gore, which also succeeds in exploring patriarchy and resistance. Followed by sequels The Witches of Wenshar and The Dark Hand of Magic. I recommend them all.

The Silent Tower

Joanna, a shy California computer programmer with a frustrating job and a crap boyfriend, hurtles through the Void into a fantasy realm. Why? Only the mad wizard Antryg Windrose knows how to manipulate the Void, and he can’t possibly be up to any good. Or is the villain one of the other wizards trying to control and manipulate her? This twisty mystery/fantasy centers around Joanna’s struggle to figure out who to trust in this entirely foreign land. A gobsmacking cliffhanger ending yanks you into the next books in the series, The Silicon Mage and Dog Wizard.

But wait, there’s more!

I mean, there’s a lot more. Check out this list for a sampling.

And if you have a favorite Barbara Hambly novel, drop a note in the comments!

Tags: , ,


Leave a reply (comments are moderated before posting)