When I was 14, I read the Darwath trilogy by Barbara Hambly. I started with Time of the Dark and quickly made my way through its two sequels. At that time, I had read the original Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant—Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson. I started with The Sword of Shannara but came to Donaldson and then Hambly because of the “DEL REY” logo at the bottom of the book spines in the bookstore.
I figured if Del Rey Books published quality books like The Sword of Shannara and Lord Foul’s Bane, I could just continue on with the line’s other authors. I was right.
I didn’t realize that I was a publisher’s favorite kind of reader! Ha!
Whereas Brooks and Donaldson kept me captivated turning pages, Hambly had a different affect on me. She made me creative away from her novels. To this day, I can’t explain it, but I completed my first creative exploit after finishing The Time of the Dark.
Here is a bit more about The Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambly:
A murderous force threatens a far-off magical world, and an ordinary Californian is drawn into the battle to save mankind
As a student of medieval history, Gil Patterson is a woman familiar with dark stories. She knows well the Crusades, the Black Death, and the other horrors of the Middle Ages, but it is another kind of atrocity that has begun to haunt her dreams. She sees forces of evil assaulting a beleaguered kingdom, whose kind people are on the brink of annihilation, and awakes each morning in a cold sweat.
Gil dismisses the dreams until a wizard appears in her apartment. He has crossed into her dimension, passing through the fraying fabric of the universe, to ask her help. For mankind to survive he must protect an infant prince, whom he plans to hide in Gil’s world. The student of history is about to get much closer to evil than she ever imagined.
I think that creative side of me exploded after reading that first Darwath book because the story and its main character was so closely linked to our own world. Whereas Thomas Covenant was from our world, I didn’t feel like I could relate to his curmudgeony attitude. I could with Gil. And when I finished The Time of the Dark, The Walls of Air, and The Armies of Daylight, my path was set.
I had fallen deeply in love with fantasy at that point and I knew I would be a fan for life.
Add this. It was also at that time I watched the movie adaptation of The Time Machine where the narrator discovers a library in the far future that had not been cared for, the books disintegrating into dust even as he picked them up.
I was horrified by that. Taking humanity’s fear of the dark in Hambly’s work and the desire to see a library last longer than portrayed in the HG Wells movie, I took that creativity and designed my first library. It wasn’t elaborate, at least not on the outside. It was a windowless structure built of black obsidian-like stone blocks, a trapezoid in dimensions. It lacked a perceivable door. The library could only be entered with the touch at a cleverly hidden point in the stone. Within would be all of the books I loved, safe from the elements, safe from those who would cause them harm.
Years have passed since that time. I no longer want an entirely closed off library. I love nature too much. My vision is more akin to a large fortress on a craggy mountainside, high above all else in the area, with the library bored deep within the world. Maybe a dozen or so fastidious troll librarians who haul the books back and forth between the library and the airy upper reaches of the castle where the light is good? Yeah, something like that.
The picture up above made me remember that first library I designed. That library above looks like heaven to me.
What kind of library do you want? Would love to hear other ideas!