DragonLance Chronicles

Fried Egg

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I used to see tonnes of second hand Weis & Hickman books in second hand book stores...until they started disappearing (the book stores, not the books).

Looks like they're pretty cheap and widely available on Abe Books.
 

Lord Soth

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Loved the Dragonlance in my formative (read as impressionable naive) years, hence my Avatar...

<<<<<<<

Raistlin is the man however, from the first when he could barely light his staff to the last when he brought a firestorm down upon a plague (?) town and challenged a goddess.

Dammit i'm going to have to dig my copy out of the loft (attic for you Americans) now!
 

williamjm

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I did really enjoy the series and the Legend books when I read them as a teenager. I suspect I probably wouldn't think as highly of them now, but I do still have fond memories of them.

I did read quite a few other Dragonlance books, but they generally weren't as good (including the later Weis & Hickman books), although I remember enjoying the comic fantasy of Lord Toede.

I did also like some of W&H's non-Dragonlance series like Darksword, Death Gate Cycle and Rose of the Prophet. While they may never have been the best writers they did have some interesting and innovative world-building ideas.

I started reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight but the events just seemed too coincidental, like they accidentally happened just to get the story moving.
Apparently the first book in particular is largely based on a RPG campaign the authors played which probably explains some of the structure.
 

Grimward

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I can't even remember the name of his warrior twin off-hand.
Caramon.

And the fact that I didn't have to look it up should be an indication of how much I liked Weis & Hickman's stuff. I have all the Darksword, Death Gate, Rose of the Prophet and many of the Dragonlance books, and even have two of Weis' solo offerings (technically, one of them is with her late son, but that's a tragic tale told elsewhere). They're nowhere near as complex in construction as a Janny Wurts or Tad Williams offering, for example, and yes, they smack strongly of D&D. Having said that, Fizban and his dragon were a brilliant invention and humorous foil to Takhisis' nastiness, and just one reason why that light-heartedness others spoke of was so enjoyable.

I've too many other books on the to-be-read list at this time, but I'm sure I'll return to Dragonlance at some point and enjoy them again.
 

Brian G Turner

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I've decided - I'm going to treat myself with the Dragonlance omnibus by TSR on my birthday, next month. :D
 

Brian G Turner

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Here's a nice bit of reminiscing about Dragonlance:
Why Dragonlance should be the next fantasy film franchise

As I said before, I did enjoy reading the sample chapters I looked at - but I'm especially interested, as an aspiring writer, to see how Weiss and Hickman worked with character development. I want to see what tools they used to make Raistlin such a memorable character.
 

Brian G Turner

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I've started reading this now, and am up to chapter 4. It's a smooth and easy read and am enjoying it so far.

What strikes me immediately is the way characterisation is handled - so far we're up to 8 people travelling together, which should threaten to overload any writer. But we get short, sharp comments or descriptions which brings in characters as and when needed.

Everyone who read Dragonlance remembers Raistlin, and as soon as we meet him, an obvious tension is set up between Raistlin and pretty much every one else. However, upon reading again, there are far more subtle tensions also in play between many of the different characters. Yet Weiss and Hickman don't fall into the trap of stopping the narrative to explain everything for the reader.

There are moments I groan at, usually where there are clear allusions to Tolkien - goblins, and tragic human-elf relationships immediately come to mind.

But there are also some very clever points - not least that this world takes place only 300 years after 'The Cataclysm'. This is the Middle Age's equivalent to post-apocalyptic fantasy.

There are the usual historical blunders about daily living - 'potatoes' is a pet hate - but this is balanced by clever use of sharp details.

Weiss and Hickman give you as much information as you need to keep the plot moving - and then quickly move on. There is a definite lesson here in how to juggle the needs of pace and clarity, with characterisation and world-building, and the authors take a no nonsense approach to keeping only what's necessary.

Anyway, that's solely on the first four chapters (and prologue).

Though I wouldn't ordinarily wish to pick up a book with goblins and elves in it, there's already a unique creativity apparent at the start of this story. I just hope it continues. :)
 

Ray McCarthy

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Potatoes are only a problem in real European history before a certain date. Actually in Europe the "sweet potato" was known first (From Central America or Carribean. Though sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1000 AD, probably brought by Polynesians from South America).
I have no difficulty with potato, maize, tomato or any food stuff in a fantasy world. In SF may even just be a "translation". Just as here today the animal with same name in different countries may be unrelated (colonists using same name for a local species as the original home)/

LOTR has potatoes and TLTW&TW (Narnia) has Marmalade and sewing machine, though they have had 100 years winter and never Christmas.

Not all Goblins and Elves are Tolkien
Princess and the Goblin (1872) George MacDonald Definitely known and quoted by CS Lewis and Tolkien
The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924) Lord Dunsany
A fairly tragic Human / "Elf" relationship.
Tragic relationships are a common theme of Irish myth . See also Sidhe. The Irish Sidhe "Fairy" rather than Irish "Pooka" fairy is closest to 20th Century fantasy "Elf", the Scandinavian Elf is another name for Dwarf, ironically, as far as I can figure.

I think the Dragonlance applies the typical 20th Century fantasy stereotypes in an acceptable way.
I read the 1st vol recently after studiously avoiding the series since forever because of the D&D franchise connection.

I found it better than I thought and no worse than Eddings. I may read another. I quite enjoyed it.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Not all Goblins and Elves are Tolkien
True - but the forms we get in fantasy fiction are lifted from Tolkien's interpretation, especially through the lens of D&D.

I've read the Ultunion and Ossianic myths of Irish folklore - IIRC the "fair folk" are tall red-headed beings, and any interaction with them is an invitation to tragedy. Not least waking up the next day to find either you or the world has aged 100 years!

In fact, tragedy is common in most ancient myths - the world was accepted to be a far crueller place then, and nothing could change that.

Frustratingly, too much fantasy is still defined by RPG tropes.

Dragonlance, despite being a part of that world by necessity, actually does a lot of interesting things to try and break out from it.

IMO that's one of its major appeals - on top of being cleanly written with a focus on "pace and clarity" rather than lectures on world-building, which they could easily have done.

PS - I still hate seeing potatoes mentioned in fantasy. :D
 

Ray McCarthy

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I shall then be careful to call starchy tubers in my stories something else.

I read a lot of fantasy, fairy stories, Narnia, myth & Legend from probably age 8 to about 13 & 14 when I first read LOTR, which I think was just after reading Rise & Fall of Third Reich (Definitely Goblins in that!). (I read Hobbit many years later). Much of Tolkien's atmosphere was thus familiar to me. The Orcs more frightening than Goblins I knew. The Elves just seemed a bit more noble but Galadriel far scarier and perilous than any fey creature I had imagined or read. In a way she was more frightening than Sauron (who was always at a distance) or Saruman who was a "wizard gone bad" and seemed stereotypical.

I did however feel that Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was sort of like a pale LOTR rip off (this wore off as I progressed through the 1st trilogy). In that sense while the 1st Dragonlance (Dragons of Autumn Twilight)is much shallower (more relaxing, less effort to read?) I found it surprising sufficient of itself, though Tasslehoff the Kender seemed a bit of a take off of the "hobbit" idea, which for me was the novel species (race?) in LOTR. I was familiar with many of the sources Tolkien drew on (Riders of the Mark, The Barrow people, the decaying Gondor, Norse, old Angle and Saxon and earlier (Beowulf etc). I'd read much Germanic, Irish, Norse, Greek, Roman, Egyptian stuff etc before 12 I think. I even suffered 3 years learning Latin. Not enough to appreciate any Latin text. Greek I only learnt Alphabeta and a few words.
My Mum and dad were both mad on reading, Dad was an English teacher and house full of books ... There wasn't much time for Lego.
 
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soulsinging

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IMO that's one of its major appeals - on top of being cleanly written with a focus on "pace and clarity" rather than lectures on world-building, which they could easily have done.
I was actually thinking of making a post on this subject and still might. Watching the Game of Thrones tv show has really increased my desire to re-read the books, which I found both fascinating and frustrating the first time through. The show has made me realize that part of my frustration is exactly what people love about them... the world building.

I often find the fantasy obsession with sygils and feasts to be bone-wearying and too often it obscures what is an excellent story. Much of those epic fantasies are blurry and unmemorable to me, whereas old school SFF from before this obsession are much more engaging and memorable to me, because my imagination was at work building the world instead of having it told to me. Thus, I really enjoyed Bester's 'The Stars My Destination,' Asimov's 'Foundation' trilogy, and Zelazney's Amber Chronicles, all of which use broad brush strokes. The assault on Korvir in the latter novel would have taken thousands of pages as GRRM described every firestorm, flood, etc that wiped out the armies. Instead we get an impressionist view of an epic trudge through hell with soldiers dying by the thousands and only until the princes come to the gates do we start to be immersed in the battle. It was thrilling in a way GRRM never could do battles.

Dragonlance is similar in this vein. They quest and there are cliches, but the characters, despite being limited in dimension, are lovable and engaging and the adventures always move along at a good clip (eg. the finding of Reorx's hammer is left out for other books, instead of being a several hundred page detour as it would in ASOIAF or WOT). Much of the criticism of Dragonlance is just, but for what it is, it is truly some of the most fun you can have with a book in your hand!
 

Brian G Turner

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I've finished Dragaons of Autumn Twilight, the first of three books in the original volume.

Pros:

- characterisation is great, with everyone being uniquely different in personality, traits, and abilities

- conflict is superb, with every character being at odds with at least one other character in the party. Sometimes it can be quite subtle, but it also serves to bring the characters more to life. I'll have to see if I can apply any of this - my original motivation for ready Dragonlance.

Cons:

- too many characters! The original 8 we end Chapter 1 with should be enough, but by the end of the book there are at least 12 different characters in the campaign party. They are well-handled, but volume comes at the expense of quality - not least the development and conflict of the original eight characters

- deus ex machina plays too much of a role in this. At times you can practically hear the dungeon master clacking dice to get the characters out from a fix that will otherwise overwhelm them. Additionally, no one is really in any mortal danger at any time - a combination of magic and Godly Healing! ensure that no one can ever be particularly harmed. At least two of the main characters appeared to die, only to be healed by divine intervention. Because of this, I cannot believe any character is in peril (and I suspect this will undermine later character fates that I remember).


But, as above, the pace of the story is generally good. It dragged a little in parts for me, but the characterisation is such that it kept me engaged throughout. It's a fun, general viewing story, with a childish tinge that can be both entertaining and frustrating.
 

Ray McCarthy

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I'm always reminded of Famous Five. Which is really 4 + dog and almost 3 (poor Anne and Dick are almost a character between them).

Tolkien removes one of the 9, then splits the party in three. Before Rivendell they were four then five.

I can't think of anything much that manages more than four at once. Who can name all of the Secret Seven or all five of the Five Finder outers?

So I think if you have more than 4 they need to "group up" in some fashion or it's very hard to do much with them?
 

soulsinging

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- deus ex machina plays too much of a role in this. At times you can practically hear the dungeon master clacking dice to get the characters out from a fix that will otherwise overwhelm them. Additionally, no one is really in any mortal danger at any time - a combination of magic and Godly Healing! ensure that no one can ever be particularly harmed. At least two of the main characters appeared to die, only to be healed by divine intervention. Because of this, I cannot believe any character is in peril (and I suspect this will undermine later character fates that I remember).
I'm pretty sure one of the events you're referring to the aftermath of the confrontation with the black dragon. It was pretty over the top, but I viewed it as less a deus ex machina (author backed into corner and not sure how to get out) and more as a necessary demonstration of the return of the gods. I mean, it literally is calling on a deity for reprieve, so I think it is less the sort of deus ex machina used by an author that doesn't know how to resolve conflict and more intended to be an explicit invocation of the gods to show they still have power in this world. It wasn't so much an effort to salvage a character as it was a needed "sign" for the other companion members that they were fighting for something real.

That said, it did always sit with me as one of the weakest plot points of the entire series, very tear-jerker and cliched. The series is also definitely more Tolkien than GRRM, where you know most of the good guys are safe unless they bring death on themselves.
 

Brian G Turner

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Yep, that's one of the parts, soulsinging. So soon after RW's miraculous healing it grated a little. Especially because such a huge amount of - fascinating - tension developed because the others thought she was dead.

I appreciated it - but after reading so much Gemmell and Abercrombie, it was hard not to expect a turn for the worst. Even though I'd already read Dragonlance. :D

However, there were surprises, and the intricacy of the character interactions is masterful.

If I were reading it for the first time, though, I might be disappointed that every little injury could be healed without consequence. That can only help to underplay peril.

Interesting to see a little foreshadowing early on, though. :)
 

BAYLOR

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Anyone here read any the book is the Ravenloft series which a parallel series?
 

Brian G Turner

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So I sat down with my TBR pile, and just didn't fancy any of it.

So I bought the second Dragonlance, Dragons of Winter Night. :D
 

Kzinti

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I hven't read Dragonlance, but I heard that the Penhaligon series was similar. I enjoyed the first two Penhaligon books.
 

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