Of Dragons and Beginnings: A Review of Dragons of Autumn Twilight

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“You’ll never get the smell of goblin off that dagger” -Tanis

“Don’t worry, it was Flints!”- Tasslehoff

Introduction

A lot can be said about the book that starts it all for you. Sure, I had always had an inclination towards the fantastical, but it was Margaret Weiss’ and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance Chronicles that cemented that inclination firmly into the realm of obsession. A fairly classic tale of a group of heroes that set out on a quest to save a land plunged into the depths of war and horror.

Now yes, it’s themes are common tropes, it’s characters fit the Tolkien model almost to a T, even the groups composition harkens back to a common theme but I didn’t care then, and don’t now. There is a reason these themes became popular, and this main pillar of a central story has so long been copied. It works. And while today you may have people who whine and complain that there is nothing “new” anymore, and everything is just a repeat of the same old story. To them I say, sod off and read something else, or better yet write something else. For these people rarely have anything to contribute to the conversation or the fantasy genre as a whole aside from venom and bile. But enough on the current state of the internet, and back to the reason behind this post.

Dragon’s of Autumn Twilight is the first of the trilogy collectively called the Dragonlance Chronicles, and it tells the story of the Heroes of the Lance, or well the beginning of such. As stated this is a book review, and not a summary, so while there may be some spoilers ahead (the book is over 20 years old, get over it) I won’t go into a large amount of detail in describing specific events of the story, but will rather focus on what elements worked, and which ones didn’t.

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“Locked in a cage you say? I have a spell for that…fireball!”- Fizban

What worked

The prose while some may say it was to simple, or “easy” the truth of the matter is that it is comfortable, and yes easy to read. The Dragonlance books in general are extremely accessible and easy to consume, and that is not a bad thing. Not to take away from authors who take a different approach, but this is in part that drew a young me into the pages, and I haven’t looked back since.

The characters, and their advancement, is marked and deep in nearly all cases. But it’s their interactions with each other that make these books what they are, especially Autumn Twilight, since they are all together, and have yet to take separate paths. The comedy that takes place between Tasslehoff our intrepid Kender (the Dragonlance version of halflings, who are far more amusing then Hobbit’s in this bloggers humble opinion) and the stereotypically gruff and dour dwarf by the name of Flint is enough to read the book on it’s own. For me however it the mismatched twins that steal the show. Caramon and Raistlin Majere could not be more different, and the larger Caramon’s near subservience to his much physically weaker sibling is an intriguing mystery at the start of the novel. Raistlin himself holds a special place in my heart, and to this day stands as my favorite character from a book series ever. Sturm, Goldmoon, Riverwind, and the groups defacto leader Tanis Half-elven add their own flair and pomp to the book combining for a cast of characters that are a joy to read about.

The scope of the book is far reaching, and we get to watch our characters grow as they travel across Ansalon after adventure is thrust upon them one night at the Inn of the Last Home in the small tree town of Solace. Here they learn about the Dragon Highlords and their armies which have begun a campaign aimed at the conquest of all the lands of Ansalon. Through their adventures the Heroes of the Lance seek out proof that the old and true gods of Krynn have returned, and they endeavor to bring back faith in the god’s of Light, before the evil goddess Takhisis takes control of the land.

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“Stereotypical Ranger has stereotypical beard.”

What didn’t work

There were perhaps to many characters for a book of this size. With them all together throughout the novel many characters take a back seat to the more interesting ones. While this addressed in later novels by splitting the Heroes up into more manageable groups it is a weakness of the first installment. Riverwind is the one who suffers most from this, and he comes off feeling rather one dimensional and somewhat unlikeable throughout most of the novel.

The book is also a bit rigid in it’s story telling, and there are times where one might question the groups motivations for carrying on. As if a group of players were being railroaded by a un-budging Game Master. The truth of the matter is that theis may be the case, as the book was written after the author’s played through a table top module of Dungeons and Dragons depicting the overarching plot points of the novel.

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What do you mean there are no Dragons? Has anyone been paying attention here?

The Final Word

 Overall I loved this book and most of the books that followed by the same authors. They are easily accessible, and are great for young and older readers alike, the perfect novels to get a young person into reading genre fiction, and a great read for veterans of the field who want to read more of the classic sword and sorcery many of us grew up on. On my arbitrary scale I give it 8.5 out of 10 Shields.

Agree? Disagree? Have you’re own comments about Dragons of Autumn Twilight? Put them down below in the comment section. Till next time you rascally adventurers you.

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