Dragonshadow - Barbara Hambly Like a lot of people, I read Dragonsbane years ago and loved it. Dragonshadow, however, was terrible by all accounts.

The first portion of the book was tedious. Sure, we need to see what has been going on with John Aversin and Jenny Waynest since Dragonsbane, but here we get pages of basically nothing but filler material - at least that is how it felt. Then when the story actually progresses, we get a long, drawn out journey by John that accomplishes nothing except gets him out of the way: i.e. "busy work." And the plot is simplistic in a terrible way. I literally got angry when it was revealed who the bad guys were, because I had guessed as much many chapters before and was hoping for some slight of hand by Ms. Hambly to surprise me.

Alas, no luck.

But I mean, it has to get better right.

No, it doesn't. In fact, a bad book just gets worse. Torture, rape, and talk of pedophilia - it is all here. Sure we had that alluded to in earlier chapters during a different plot point, but now we delve into it over and over again. Page after page of it, getting worse every time the author describes it. Seriously, after the first scenes of orgies and torture, most readers will grasp the concept that these demons are bad dudes, that they are evil to the core, and that they can make even the strongest character do bad things. But Ms. Hambly obviously is just writing for shock effect, because she keeps serving up another and another big helping of hideous demonic killing or torture or rape without it actually moving the story along. By the end of the third or fourth such scene involving my previous favorite characters, I actually started to just skim what was written, desperately hoping that the story would move beyond this. But it never did. When I finally thought Ms. Hambly had resolved this plot issue, we just get flashbacks and dreams about torture, orgies, and rape, so we can rehash it all again.

No matter how awful I thought this book was going at this point, I was determined to persevere until the end, hoping that somewhere I could find a silver lining or anything to grab hold of to actually like. And my reward for tortuing myself with this book until the final page: no resolution to anything and wishing I'd never read it in the first place.

Now I've read that Ms. Hambly was having personal issues when she wrote this book, and perhaps that is why she absolutely tortured the main characters, John Aversin and Jenny Waynest. The depths to which she took this destruction was ridiculous however. As light and naive as Dragonsbane was, the characters were likeable, and you actually felt an emotional chord struck at Jen's final decision at the end of that book. All I felt when I finished this book was a desire to erase what Ms. Hambly wrote, which is bitterly disappointing since I've loved many of her other works.