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Merle

Merle

The Dark Hand of Magic by Barbara Hambly

The Dark Hand of Magic - Barbara Hambly

My enjoyment of this trilogy peaked with the first book, The Ladies of Mandrigyn, which is fantastic. And, sadly, decreased from there. This book follows the further adventures of Sun Wolf and Starhawk, now reunited with their mercenary band, which is threatened by a mysterious magical force bent on causing every kind of catastrophe imaginable.

One of the nice things about this trilogy is that each book has a self-contained plot arc, but they also build on one another. Given all the changes in our protagonists over the last two books, a good portion of this one is spent on their renegotiating their roles within the troop, which does not make everyone happy.

Overall, this was an entertaining read, though somewhat slow going (Hambly’s style is a little dense for genre fantasy) and a bit on the darker side. I enjoyed the continued story of Sun Wolf and Starhawk, but missed the great secondary cast from the previous books, especially Mandrigyn. Here very little personality accumulates in the secondary cast, and the mercenaries almost all felt interchangeable to me. At any rate, this is worth reading if you enjoyed the first two and happen across a copy, but you probably don’t need to hunt one down to make your reading experience complete.