Yesterday I was in the library when I stumbled across a brand new book in the series that started with a book that's called either Immortal Blood or Those Who Hunt The Night, depending where you live, and continued with Travelling With The Dead.
I read both the books about James Asher, university lecturer and spy in the Edwardian era, and his intelligent wife, Lydia, who found the various vampire residences through checking paperwork. They're exciting and entertaining, occasionally funny and deeply touching. Barbara Hambly's vampires can be likable, but she never gets sentimental about them, reminding her readers constantly that the charming, witty Don Simon Ysidro, who came to England with Phillip of Spain when he married Queen Mary, is a killer thousands of times over and, like every other vampire, is a selfish bastard, because you have to be, to survive as a vampire - even Ysidro admits this.
Imagine my delight when I found this brand new book in the series, admittedly with a rather dreadful cover and title of Blood Maidens. If it had been anyone but this writer, I probably wouldn't have bothered even to open it, but once open, the book is as wonderful as the others. I'm halfway through it and trying unsuccessfully to slow down and relish it. Alas, I will be finished very soon and have to wait for whatever is her next offering.
I am a fan of Barbara Hambly. I began with Dragonsbane, in which an earnest young man goes looking for the only knight who ever managed to kill a dragon and finds out that he is a man who'd rather be reading than fighting and that he did it with poisoned harpoons because it had to be done, and that was the only way. I had to read more.
I love the way all her stories are just a little bit different from others of their genre. You care about her characters. A woman who is a history scholar saves the universe using her research skills. A wizard hero has been locked up for years because his mentor was an evil dark lord (The Silent Tower)That was, of course, Antryg Windrose, my favourite of her characters. He was so very like the Tom Baker Doctor, except he wore cheap jewellery instead of long scarves. He even had his own "Council of Timelords" who hated him!
The Magicians of Night was also just a bit different. The hero, a magician from a world where the mageborn are persecuted, is lured into another universe by a cry for help from people he thinks are also being persecuted - only to find himself in Nazi Germany, summoned by Hitler's magicians! It was the sequel to The Rainbow Abyss, but i think a better book.
When this writer turned to historical mystery, I followed, being a lover of crime fiction, and was pleased I had. Benjamin January, her African-American doctor/musician/investigator, lives in New Orleans during the era of slavery. Ex-slaves have only so many options. However he feels about it, Ben's family live there and he has to work around it. The city is a character in its own right; you can hear, see, smell it.
Excuse me. I have to get back to my book, before I read the latest YA vampire novel.