This was a series of books, thy would have been around in mid 1985, and the artwork on the covers was much like Terry Patchett's book art...

The male character was transported from the "modern" world to an alternate world. He was a biker and a hell raiser, but in the alternate world he finds he's a magician/wizard. He is mentored by a wizard. I hope I'm not mixing up books, but I think there was a female character who was transported also, and she becomes in the "alt world" a warrior.

If I'm not mixing my story lines, there was also an "evil" called "The Dark" which hunted people and took their minds but left their bodies alive but senseless?

Seems like at least a couple of the books used the word "rune or runes" in the title. At least one of the book covers had the male character standing in front of a door with runes on it with his hand or hands up. Again, I think the title had "runes" in a couple of them.


2 Answers 2


It's the Darwath trilogy from Barbara Hambly.

From a Goodreads review of the first book:

The book has a bit of a slow start, as we meet two 20-somethings – Gil, a grad student, and Rudy, a motorcycle painter – living in southern California. But within a couple of chapters, they are transported to the medieval world of Darwath, which is under assault by amorphous beings known as “the Dark.” This is a short book, the start of a short trilogy, and Hambly successfully cuts to the chase: the Dark is not supposed to be a complex or comprehensible villain, but rather, to tap directly into primordial fears of the dark and the things that might be moving in it. It’s all about atmosphere, and as the characters struggle to survive and fend off unknown attackers, the atmosphere is excellent.

The characters themselves are familiar archetypes, though they get some respectable development that doesn’t always follow the stereotypes. Of the two protagonists, she becomes a warrior on Darwath (not your typical character arc for a female nerd), while he becomes a mage; he has a romance, while she doesn’t yet. And their adventures are certainly gripping, though to me the book loses some emotional resonance in following primarily Gil in the beginning, but primarily Rudy toward the end; as the stakes ramp up, we’re spending more time with the character we know less well. The plot, while exciting, also doesn’t bear much critical scrutiny. (Why doesn’t Ingold simply deposit Tir at the Keep on his way back from Earth, then go to Karst for everyone else?)

  • 1
    The image referenced is the original massmarket paperback cover for The Walls of Air.
    – DavidW
    Aug 19, 2019 at 13:37
  • 1
    The description in the question is exactly that of Ingold Inglorion reinforcing the spells holding the great door of the Keep of Dare against the first great assault of The Dark in The Time of the Dark.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 19, 2019 at 13:43
  • Ya'll ARE AWESOME! THe image is indeed the one I remember! @DavidW
    – kd7kws
    Jun 29, 2023 at 0:41
  • Ya'll ARE AWESOME! THe image is indeed the one I remember! @ZeissIkon
    – kd7kws
    Jun 29, 2023 at 0:42
  • why oh why did Barbara Hambley not do audiobooks for all 5 books....*cries*
    – kd7kws
    Jun 29, 2023 at 1:35

It sounds like The Last Rune series by Mark Anthony

A strange rift in ordinary reality draws saloon owner Travis Wilder and ER doctor Grace Beckett into the otherworld of Eldh--a land of gods, monsters, and magic that is sorely in need of heroes.

Travis soon discovers that he has a wild talent for the magic of runes, which gives him power over the material world, while Grace learns that she is a witch, with power over nature.

Beyond the Pale

I can't see a door in any of the book cover but there's a wizard on the front of Book three (along with the obligatory busty female)...

Dark Remains

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