Barbara Hambly is an American SF and mystery writer. Her works include several otherworld fantasy series, a historical fantasy series with vampires, and a series of historical mysteries
On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Realism
, her works tend to be a ways off from the Idealistic end. The heroes are good people, but realistically complex and possessed of human imperfections, and they often face large and complicated problems that can't be solved simply by smiting monsters. And when it comes to monsters, the fanged squamous horrors are often given a run for their money by some of the human beings.
Two good starting points for Hambly are Bride of the Rat God
, in which an actress in 1920s Hollywood
becomes the unwitting target of an ancient Chinese curse, and Stranger at the Wedding
(aka Sorcerer's Ward
), a mixture of Regency romance and murder mystery with the added twist that the protagonist has foreseen the murder magically and is trying to solve it before it happens
. Both are standalone novels, and feature smaller-scale problems that admit of relatively neat happy endings, but are still sufficiently characteristic to give you an idea of whether this is the kind of thing you like.
In addition to her self-originated work she has written three Star Trek Expanded Universe
), two Star Wars Expanded Universe
novels (the first and third books in The Callista Trilogy
), and two tie-in novels for the Beauty and the Beast
TV series, as well as episodes of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
. She also collaborated on the first Magic Time
novel with the franchise's creator, Marc Scott Zicree.
Works by Barbara Hambly with their own trope pages include:
Barbara Hambly's other works include examples of:
- Arranged Marriage:
- In Circle of the Moon, it is mentioned that Raeshaldis (known simply as the Eldest Daughter in her own family), ran away from an Arranged Marriage to study Functional Magic. She is not happy to learn that one of her younger sisters — much younger — now looks like being forced into the match instead.
- Tally in The Rainbow Abyss, which caused a few problems when Rhion showed up.
- Tertullia Vara's arranged marriage to a 'greasy' Syrian merchant is an important plot point in Search the Seven Hills.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Bunches.
- In the Star Trek tie-in novel Ishmael, Spock excels at pool without thinking about it, later commenting to a surprised onlooker that it is nothing but simple geometry and physics.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Ingold Inglorion is very obviously the late Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, brown robes, beautiful voice and all.
- Corrupt Church: The "Darwath" series has a generic "The Church" that frequently makes Our Heroes miserable, having as a central tenet of its faith that wizards are evil and soulless. It also generates some interesting Church vs. State conflicts regarding food distribution and legal jurisdiction, wrangles between two bishops - the compassionate Maia of Thran (an ex-soldier) and the fierce ascetic Govannin Narmenlion, who is less 'corrupt' than utterly convinced of the rightness of her beliefs - and is, on occasion, somewhat helpful by providing historical records.
- Deconstruction: Of classic fantasy clichés: Often.
- Functional Magic: In the Darwath books mages possess an inherent gift, which must then be developed with training in Rule Magic.
- Ghostapo: In The Magicians of Night
- Historical Detective Fiction: Apart from the Benjamin January series, there's the one-off To Search The Seven Hills aka The Quirinal Hill Affair, set in classical Rome.
- Historical Fantasy:
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Her Star Trek tie-in novel Ishmael is an extended crossover with the 1968-1970 ABC series Here Come The Brides, including several Mythology Gags spanning both series. (It also includes cameos from a number of other series, most noticeably Doctor Who and Have Gun — Will Travel.)
- Low Fantasy: All her fantasy novels.
- Purple Prose: Her Star Wars novels have a, shall we say, mauve-ish tinge to them. Done fairly well, though.
- Spirit Advisor: In the Sisters of the Raven books, Pontifer Pig is this to Pomegranate. Those who know her mostly assume that she is hallucinating about the ghost of her late pet. (In Circle of the Moon, however, some consideration is given to the theory that Pontifer might have been a djinn who is managing to use Pomegranate as a host.)
- Trapped in Another World: The Darwath series.