in that piercing cold, not one of the wolves were abroad; the silence ran from cliff to lightless cliff, an almost tangible property in that dark and desolate world.
-Barbara Hambly, The Armies of Daylight
We often find things in books that we relate to in our own lives (“oh yeah, I work with that guy”), but this was the first time I had a life experience that brought more to the book I was reading.
This last winter was cold. It wasn’t cute or quaint or entertaining. It didn’t snow and then get warm the next day. It was cold without reprieve. This cold was utter, was massive.
An evil Cold.
Deep, dark cold, for a long time. Snow on snow on snow on snow… It was so cold that the snow wouldn’t melt under your feet as you stepped on it. A dangerous cold. Frostbite, frozen pipes, damage to the car.
Some days were still, so still, like the earth had stopped breathing, waiting for the Winter Queen to shatter her way into this world.
The characters in Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambly are experiencing this end of the world coldness. They are fleeing a ruined city, trudging through ice and snow to a hidden Keep miles away.
They pass families or parts of – children, goats, elders – who couldn’t keep up with the group and were left frozen on the path.
The Guards continue to practice every day despite the cold, the gnawing hunger mated to that piercing cold for a true testament to willpower.
And when they finally get to this Keep, guess what? It’s cold there too. A different cold. A damp, underground cold, a heat sink as big as their only defense against these Dark Ones.
What a weird sort of escapism this was for me. I would walk to work, thinking about these poor sods slipping and struggling their way to another cold place. Back home and go to bed early – it’s too cold to bother with anything else, really – reading about them again.
It’s Spring now, which is, appropriately enough, the season during which Time of the Dark concludes its story. The Dark have been vanquished, sent on their way and hope and renewal awaken again.
When I walk to work now the world is once again boring concrete and chain link fences and parking lots, the dark of winter has passed like a long ago dream.