Retro Review: Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Note:  This is a guest review by Michael.

So I decided to read a fantasy novel again and based on a recommendation I agreed to try one of the Dragonlance books.  That’s when Amy handed me a three book set.  Three?!  Wait, I said one . . . ONE!  My eyes grew wide and I started to get the book sweats.  All I saw were pages . . . thousands upon thousands of pages . . . with words on them!  Okay, maybe hundreds of pages.  I asked if this was a trilogy and Amy pointed at the bookshelf with about forty other Dragonlance books.  The book sweats really kicked in, and the books she handed me suddenly felt like a brick of lead.  But she smiled and said that these were just the first three books of many.  The original trilogy that kicked off the Dragonlance novels.  Whew!  That was a close one.  But I better escape before she assigns anymore reading!

I drove home and let the cool Pacific Northwest breeze waft through the windows, cooling the book sweats.  Once secluded in my casa, attired in stylish robe and slippers, I flicked the switch on my gas fireplace and it roared to life next to my analog television.  I pulled out the first book.  It was red.  Uh-oh, not a good sign.  Red is the color of anger, aggression, fire, blood . . . as well as passion and desire.  No good can come of reading such a book.  There might be Hobbit lovin’ in it!

Dragonlance:  The Fellowship of the Red.  No, that can’t be right.  I wiped the sleep from my heavy eyes, for it was a late 7:00 PM!  I re-read the title.  Dragonlance:  Dragons of Autumn Twilight.  Is this some sort of hippie book?!  There are three tree hugging hippies on the cover, clad in leather, all hairy and mangy looking.  Okay, maybe the dude on the right isn’t a hippy, he’s pretty badass looking.  And all these books are named after seasons, and are color coded to the seasons in case I forget.  Well, that’s pretty handy actually.  Oh look, pictures at the beginning of every chapter!  I might be able to get into this.  I settled in for the long haul . . .

(4 months later)

*Ding*  First book done! *Fist pump*

Life-long friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each other holds secrets from the the others in their heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chanced encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff draws the companions deeper into the shadow forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.

No one expected them to be heroes.

Least of all themselves.

Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Series:  Dragonlance Chronicles #1
Genre:  Fantasy

Awards:  None
Media:  Book, paperback, 447 pages
Cover Art:  Larry Elmore
Year: 1984
4 out of 5 stars

So first thing to keep in mind is that this is an ongoing story and each book might not end like Shrek with “And they lived happily ever after.  The End,” that’s why they call them “trilogies.”  Just thought you should know.  Hmm, Shrek is green.  I wonder if he’s in the third book?

Anyway.  This is a very solid fantasy book with all the key players: dwarves (or dwarfs . . . or even dorfs if you prefer), elves, dragons, and many in between, like short people.  I don’t know, Hobbits I guess?  But with ponytails and stuff, instead of perms.  Oh, and those pesky, upstart humans too.  The story line involves a quest, and prophecy, and etc, etc.  Underneath it all I can hear the subtle sound of d20 rattling across the table, drinks being slurped, and the laughter of friends gathered in the evenings for a friendly game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight has a character summary page which is very handy because the book has about eight major characters.  Eight!  Do these Weis and Hickman people think they are Shakespeare or something?  The book is very approachable (unlike Shakespeare), and even with so many characters they do a good job differentiating them from each other, by giving them different names and stuff.  The authors do a good job with introducing the many characters without overwhelming the reader with a list of unpronounceable names (although I’m sure I’m pronouncing most of them wrong in my head).  I trip over the names Goldmoon and Sturm all the time! *shakes fist*.

This is a very character driven story.  One of my favorites being Gandalf REDACTED, errr, Fizban.  The parts where their guide, who is an entity of much more power than he elludes, dies and then comes back to life?  Was NOT expecting that!  Surprisingly there’s a lot of interaction between couples for a fantasy story, unlike that sausage fest The Lord of the Rings.  I guess this isn’t so surprising since the books are written by a woman and a man together (not necessarily a couple, I’m not sure, I did a quick search on the Googles).  I think the relationships in the book add value for some people without going overboard like some of those other books with . . . Twilight . . . in the title.  I didn’t find the borderline Hobbit lovin’ distracting and I was actually quite a ways into the book before I noticed.  Maybe interactions between characters help develop their depth and create a sense of empathy with the reader.  I dunno.

Even though Dragons of Autumn Twilight is pure, unadulterated, derivative pulp fantasy, it’s still a fun read.  The ending is solid without leaving things overtly hanging for another book or two . . . or forty.  Oh wait, nevermind.  The characters are interesting and their interactions are entertaining.  The reading difficulty is very approachable as I’m sure the books were intended for a much younger audience than myself.  Without giving away any spoilers the plot has some interesting twists and turns concerning dragons and lances.

Be sure to read all the tongue firmly planted in cheek reviews of the Dragonlance Chronicles:

Dragonlance Chronicles #1: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Dragonlance Chronicles #2: Dragons of Winter Night

Dragonlance Chronicles #3: Dragons of Spring Dawning

Images & Words © 2015-2024, Neal Ulen.
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