cover image Mother of Winter

Mother of Winter

Barbara Hambly. Del Rey Books, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-345-39722-5

Twelve years after she concluded her Darwath Trilogy with The Time of the Dark, Hambly returns to the Keep of Dare. In this magical country, two former Californians, Rudy Solis and Gil Patterson, have prospered in their alternative professions (wizard and warrior, respectively), as well as in their interpersonal relationships with Dare's ruler and Archmage. But in the last five years a new glacial Ice Age has taken hold of Dare. Slunch, a virtually indestructible form of magical fungus, is ruining most of the arable farmland, and mutant creatures are attacking people. If something is not done immediately, the world's surface will freeze, rendering it uninhabitable by humans. Rudy must retain the trust of his queen and lover, Minalde, while delving into her five-year-old son's vast genetic memories, even as Gil and Ingold Inglorion struggle to stop the Mother of Winter from freeze-drying the planet. Part of the appeal of this novel lies in its juxtaposition of old and new: American brand-name products (Cracker Jacks, Swanson frozen entrees) and idiomatic phrases (""Pick up the phone, man!"") cohabitate with swordplay and a medieval mindset; high-tech concepts like genetics mingle with sorcerous derring-do. The story is involving, and the narrative intelligent. Too often in recent years, Hambly has expended her talent on Star Trek or Star Wars series novels; it's good to see her originality back and blazing. (Oct.)