Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Since starting up Luke Reviews, I have come to respect the potential of tie-in fiction far more than I did previously, even though I thought I was pretty open-minded about it. However, there was a big franchise that I had yet to explore: Dragonlance. There was nothing against it, it was just that I wanted to read the “core” Dragonlance novels first, and they are the epic fantasies of Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and I have never been a huge epic fantasy kinda guy (I didn’t like The Lord of the Rings, for example). I like action/adventure fantasy as much as the next guy, but big quest-type stuff isn’t for me as much. However, the books kept drawing my eye, so I finally took a look.

After a 5 year separation, a group of friends gets together to discuss rumors of war throughout the land. However, after getting on the wrong side of the local political/religious leader, the group makes a run for it, taking along with them two people with a blue crystal staff, the root of their problems. In a search for answers, both for the staff and the upcoming war, the companions set out, travelling through woods of the dead, fighting slave caravans, and discovering that the dragons of myth may be more real than they ever dreamed.

At first, I was a bit unsure about this one. There are a lot of characters introduced right at the beginning (listing only the important ones: Tanis Half-Elven, Sturm Brightblade, Goldmoon, Riverwind, Raistlin, Caramon, Flint Fireforge, and Tasslehoff Burrfoot), and the story seemed pretty stereotypical.

Yet, the more I got into it, the more I realized that my fears were unfounded. Weis & Hickman manage to create 8 very well-developed characters, along with a plot that was comfortably familiar, yet subverting the over-used tropes with intriguing new ones. The story carries along very nicely, with no major hick-ups. This wound up being one of the richest tie-in fantasy novels I have ever read.

I will be following the continuing adventures of the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy as soon as I can. Fans of fantasy, in particular epic fantasy, will find a lot to relish in this one. Yet, evidenced by my reaction, even those who aren’t quite as into epic fantasy will still find a lot to like here. This is a wonderful novel.


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