The Time of the Dark opens with a woman dreaming of events taking place in another world.  By the second page this book, published in 1982, has already described something as “cyclopean”.  I, having read that description, was busy being depressed about the story, fearing that Hambly was aspiring to some Lovecraft-styled tale.  (This would be a problem because most such imitations are bad ones.)  Fortunately (so to speak), it’s merely a run-of-the-mill fantasy story from the early ’80s.

The book does carry a fairly obvious Lovecraft influence, mostly in the descriptions of ancient architecture and of the Dark, a not-terribly-nice race which is encountered early in the book.  There was one particular description of some ancient ruins where I was enjoying some nice echoes of Lovecraft’s style until she actually used the adjective “Lovecraftian”.  Oh, well.

So the descriptive writing wasn’t too bad.  The plot was, unfortunately, pretty standard stuff.  People (a man and a woman) are transported from this world into another one where magic is possible and some great danger threatens.  These two become instrumental in saving people from the danger.  I was somewhat pleased to note that it wasn’t completely textbook—the two did not fall in love with each other.  On the other hand, the woman, a medieval scholar, discovers an innate talent for sword-based combat, while the man, a sometimes-biker and itinerant artist, finds that he can work magic and falls mutually in love with the widowed queen.

This is the first book in a series.  I want enough to know what will happen that I’d read the next books, but if they’re similar to this one, I’ll probably be sighing at the clichéd fantasy conventions as I come to them.