cover image Dragonshadow


Barbara Hambly. Del Rey Books, $24 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-345-42187-6

Relying more on strongly delineated, complex characters than on outlandish wizardry or heroism, this first-rate high fantasy is the follow up to Dragonsbane (1987), one of the prolific and protean Hambly's (Fever Season, etc.) earliest novels. Mageborn Jenny Waynest returns, along with her husband, Lord John Aversin, who long ago earned the title ""Dragonsbane"" for defeating two dragons. Now the couple must save the Winterlands from the menace of yet another dragon--but the real threat turns out to be worse. Demons from another plane of existence, who prey on the magic and souls of both wizards and dragons, take Jenny and John's mageborn son, 12-year-old Ian, captive. John must turn for help to the powerful Morkeleb, a dragon who loved Jenny and once gave her a dragon's body, magic and immortality--though he later returned her to mortal form when she chose to be with John. All three suffer and sacrifice as they make dark bargains to defeat their formidable foes. With its resourceful, 45-year-old heroine who must make difficult choices, face both emotional and demonic challenges and deal with the pain of her past, Hambly's novel should appeal to mature readers who seek more than flashing swords and simple sorcery. Elegant, intelligent and entertaining, this novel excels as a sequel but readers new to the story won't miss a beat. (Mar.)