When the Black Dragon seized the Deep of Ylferdun, young Gareth braved the far Winterlands to find John Aversin, Dragonsbane - the only living man ever to slay a dragon. In return for the promise of the King to send help to the Winterlands, Aversin agreed to attempt the nearly impossible feat again.
With them, to guard them on the haunted trip south, went Jenny Waynest, a half-taught sorceress and mother of Aversin's sons.
But at the decadent Court, nothing was as expected. Rebellion threatened the land. Zyerne, a sorceress of seemingly unlimited power, held the King under an evil spell, and he refused to see them. Meantime, the dragon fed well on the knights who had challenged him.
In the end, Aversin, Jenny, and Gareth had to steal away at night to challenge Morkeleb, largest and wisest of dragons.
But that was only the beginning of the perils they must face.
©1985 Barbara Hambly (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
The "Dragonsbane" is the hero of song and story, about whom bards sing ballads. He's the great warrior who slew a dragon ten years ago.
Gareth, a young nobleman from the king's court, is fond of dragon ballads. Idealistic -- and desperate — Gareth comes north to seek aide in killing a new dragon ravaging the king's southern territories. However, he is surprised at what he finds, for the legendary warrior — bane of the dragons — is simply John Iverson, bespectacled, bookish, plain-speaking, hard-working lord of the north, caring deeply for his people, carving a hard-won life from the winter lands, the hinterlands.
Gareth also finds Jenny, a witch, the love of John's life, the mother of his two young sons. But not his wife.
Although Gareth and John play key roles, as does the dragon himself (cool creature, great characterization) and the villain (a credible cretin, and so very vile), this book is primarily about Jenny's journey of discovery.
Across the chapters, she discovers her powers ("the heart of magic is magic. A Mage does magic"). In the end, she discovers her heart.
For some reason, her dawning realizations didn't deeply engage my own mind or tug on my heart. Maybe she thought too much, repeating herself, leaving little interpretation or guesswork for me. Maybe it's because her sons were never brought to vivid reality, so I couldn't care enough about them. I thought Jenny almost foolishly wishy-washy.
This is a fantasy, complete with kings, wizards, gnomes, dragons, and treasure, but there's a touch of romance. Almost a lover's triangle, in some scenes.
Great narration by Derek Perkins, except he made John sound like a country bumpkin — which he is according to the text, and by his own frank admission — but I couldn't fall in love with him because of that portrayal.
This book brought to mind Raven's Shadow and Raven's Strike, a duology by Patricia Briggs. An emperor seeks help from a country farmer in ridding his lands of a shadow. However, I liked the Raven series more, because I grew to care more about the characters.
One of Hambly's best books (see all the reviews on the Amazon side). A counter to the typical dragon/pseudo-medieval/hero stories.
Well read by Derek Perkins, who seems to be developing a niche for properly pronounced and clear readings of action fantasies.
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