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DragonLance Chronicles

ralphkern

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I did used to enjoy the Dragon Lance books in my 'youf' although not being a Roleplay gamer some of it was probably lost on me. Hence I found the Deathgate Cycle a little more 'complete'.

Saying that, I enjoyed some of the characters. Raistlin was very interesting and the whole dynamic between him and his brother (Cameron?) was, whilst not new, better played out than most takes on that theme.
 

Brian G Turner

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I've finally completed the trilogy, and did enjoy it for the most part. There were some things I could quibble about (see previous posts) and some things I disliked a lot - not least the gully dwarf scenes early on that seemed to drag and drag, and didn't provide me with the light relief I think was intended.

The characterisation was superb. Conflict between them was a key focus. And the story became weakest when the story moved away from that - Gilthanas and Laurana scenes especially, IMO. This was especially the case in the last book, when we see far less of the band of characters who began the first chapter.

What was especially interesting was how diverse this world was - the books are full of strong male and female characters, for different reasons. Even the big, powerful warrior figure - Caramon - is defined more by his concern for his brother than his physical strength.

Even more interesting was the moral relativity - "grayness" - that exists in the story underpinned by a basic premise of good, neutrality, and evil. It's not just Raistlin, but also the whole Kitiara storyline that Tanis becomes involved in, where choices between right and wrong appear blurred.

Overall, the story drags in places, but shines exceptionally in others. I definitely enjoyed revisiting it, and it was interesting to observe the character development with writer's eyes. Dragonlance remains a great example of a character-driven story, even when so much of the role-playing background could appear somewhat cliche.

Best line in the book: Towards the end, spoken by Raistlin to Caramon - "Lean on me, my brother."

More on the background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonlance
 

Robert Mackay

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I enjoyed the series as a teenager. I re-read the first trilogy recently and... it was fun, but it read so much like a D&D campaign report (right up to the inexplicable increases in power) that it kept chucking me out of the story.

I will say, though, that the short story with the Gnomish boat is the single funniest piece of fantasy writing I've ever encountered.
 

soulsinging

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I've finally completed the trilogy, and did enjoy it for the most part. There were some things I could quibble about (see previous posts) and some things I disliked a lot - not least the gully dwarf scenes early on that seemed to drag and drag, and didn't provide me with the light relief I think was intended.

The characterisation was superb. Conflict between them was a key focus. And the story became weakest when the story moved away from that - Gilthanas and Laurana scenes especially, IMO. This was especially the case in the last book, when we see far less of the band of characters who began the first chapter.

What was especially interesting was how diverse this world was - the books are full of strong male and female characters, for different reasons. Even the big, powerful warrior figure - Caramon - is defined more by his concern for his brother than his physical strength.

Even more interesting was the moral relativity - "grayness" - that exists in the story underpinned by a basic premise of good, neutrality, and evil. It's not just Raistlin, but also the whole Kitiara storyline that Tanis becomes involved in, where choices between right and wrong appear blurred.

Overall, the story drags in places, but shines exceptionally in others. I definitely enjoyed revisiting it, and it was interesting to observe the character development with writer's eyes. Dragonlance remains a great example of a character-driven story, even when so much of the role-playing background could appear somewhat cliche.
You convinced me... I've started re-reading it too. Halfway through Autumn Twilight and am enjoying it quite a bit. Some parts do drag more than I remember (the unicorn/forest detour). It has so many great set pieces though (opening scene at the inn, Tas in the dragon during the camp escape). Definitely see the conflict you're speaking of, which I think was slightly lost no me in previous readings. You really see Tanis struggling to hold a very tenuous party together.
 

Grimward

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Have to ask what you thought of both the character Fizban and how Weiss and Hickman use him, Brian. You'll probably want to hide your reply behind another spoiler button, though (neat option, that). The subsequent Test of the Twins Trilogy isn't quite as good in some respects, but delves much deeper into Caramon and Raistlin's relationship.
 

Brian G Turner

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Have to ask what you thought of both the character Fizban and how Weiss and Hickman use him, Brian.
On the plus side, I enjoyed his quirkiness, and the fact that Hickman and Weiss allowed more questions than answers about him. On the other hand, I couldn't shake the image of "dungeon-master NPC to aid characters".
 

Grimward

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From a 2014 perspective, I guess I can see that. I first read those books in the mid-80s, when D&D wasn't quite so established. While I was a D&D fan, there was enough of that quirkiness to offset the image for me. I can see how Fizban would channel that stereotype more strongly now, though.
 

soulsinging

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From a 2014 perspective, I guess I can see that. I first read those books in the mid-80s, when D&D wasn't quite so established. While I was a D&D fan, there was enough of that quirkiness to offset the image for me. I can see how Fizban would channel that stereotype more strongly now, though.
Interesting point. I read them in the late-80's and while D&D was around, it was very small and niche and I knew nothing about the game before reading the books. To be honest, everyone I knew that read the series read it prior to playing the game. Most anyone I knew that actually played D&D got into it because of the books, not the other way around. As I'm re-reading it now though, a lot of those tropes are pretty obvious. I think to an extent nostalgia lets me shrug that off, but I can see it being off-putting to a first-time reader that's not 15.

How do you do that spoiler trick?
 

Grimward

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Interesting point. I read them in the late-80's and while D&D was around, it was very small and niche and I knew nothing about the game before reading the books. To be honest, everyone I knew that read the series read it prior to playing the game. Most anyone I knew that actually played D&D got into it because of the books, not the other way around. As I'm re-reading it now though, a lot of those tropes are pretty obvious. I think to an extent nostalgia lets me shrug that off, but I can see it being off-putting to a first-time reader that's not 15.

How do you do that spoiler trick?
You know, I never thought of the TSR books as a portal introducing new players to the game itself, SS, but now that you mention it that should have been an obvious marketing tool.

Re the spoiler trick, I'd like the shortcut too (haven't looked at the source yet 'cuz I was lazy the other night!)

EDIT: It is in the source
 

Brian G Turner

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How do you do that spoiler trick?
Re the spoiler trick
There are two ways to do spoilers:

1. Type out the tag, ie:

[ spoiler ]spoiler here![ /spoiler ]

BUT remove the spaces from the above.

2. See the icons above the message area, ie, for bold, italics, etc? The one to the left of the camera icon - click that and it offers you the ability to use the spoiler tag directly. :)
 

GR_LifeForce

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First borrowed Autumn Twilight from City Hall Library in Durban in 1998, was in the 9th grade at the time and was hooked from the word go. My mother was into Marrion Zimmer Bradley Darkover novels in the 60's so she recommended them to her son (now unconsciously following his Matriarchal genetics into SFF).

I read the first one it wasn't really hitting the right cords with me, upon returning it I took a random walk to a remote, real remote corner of this massive library, took a random left and right and looked up at the shelf and plucked Autumn Twilight from 3 shelves above my eye level.

It was wedged in between wood work and other DIY and science titles, far from the rest of the SFF about 50 meters away on the other side of the building. A year later we moved to Joburg and I located a copy of the One Volume 1000+ page Trilogy via the Linux library network, ordered em to bring it my local library.
I failed two tests and read from dusk on Fri till dawn on Sunday morning pausing for intermittent naps, en route to finishing this trilogy. I did this for 3 weekends. This was in 2000. I tracked down the Legend of Huma via the same Linux system, but stopped there also not wanting to get sucked into the tangents.

But my random encounters with this Trilogy didn't stop there. One drunken Sunday morning 6 years later, I was crashing at a real wealthy friends place after a night of hard clubbing and womanizing of the first class, I woke before every one else for some reason, walked(stumbled) up the stairs to their massive loft room in a the corner of his obscenely large house, walked over to a random cupboard start digging through the CAR magz there alot of them from the 90's , and lo and behold, its the 1000pg fatboy Trilogy from my high school days. I made him an offer of what was left in my wallet that I didn't spend on drinks for lovely lasses the prev night, which was about R36 ($3,60). He accepted.

Years later I walk into a book shop and come across Dragons of Summer Flame, glad to see this one is written by the original Weis/Hickman combo and not outsourced, I bought it and was not disappointed. Also read Starshield Sentinels from Weis/Hickman was pretty entertaining too. I would say Weis/Hickman are part of the reason I wanted to write my own Trilogy.

I should mention I randomly came across a copy of the animated movie of Autumn Twilight, in a major AV franchise in my country. The voice of Tanis I think is Keifer Sutherland, I added it the rest of my Dragonlance Collection.
 
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Toby Frost

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A few days ago, I got Dragons of Autumn Twilight down and had another look. Here are a few random thoughts:

There are too many people in the party, which means that when certain characters come to the front of the group, they only do “their thing”: Flint, Tasselhoff, Goldmoon and Riverwind suffer from this in particular (although it seems clear that something big will be done with Tasslehoff later on). In the stranger second half of the book, it seems as if a huge mob of people is involved. However…

Because everyone stays together, and the story is largely told through a mix of Tanis’ perspective blurring into 3rd person omniscient, everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. This means that a huge amount of stuff gets done. It genuinely does feel epic because of the massive amount of ground it covers. Nobody seems to have any sort of psychological damage from this constant barrage of monsters and fighting, but then it never hurt the crew of the Starship Enterprise, either.

Raistlin isn’t as good as I remember him: perhaps you have to read him at 12 or so. At the moment, he feels more like a carping nuisance than a mighty wizard. But Sturm, Tanis and Caramon are more interesting than I recall, perhaps because their problems seem more grown-up and wouldn’t have interested me when I was much younger.

This being D&D, there is an enormous variety of different creatures, many of them intelligent and none of them, it seems, as widespread as mankind. There’s a slight feel of overclassification (four squirrel warriors supported by a blue squirrel cleric and led by a dire squirrel with an acorn of smiting, etc). There are also some odd anachronisms that seem especially jarring with modern fantasy’s obsession with “realism” (ie misery). One mountain is described as having many picnic spots!

Basically, it's fun.
 

Brian G Turner

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Sturm, Tanis and Caramon are more interesting than I recall, perhaps because their problems seem more grown-up and wouldn’t have interested me when I was much younger.
They had the same effect on me with my second re-reading. In fact, I was really surprised how engaging Tanis was through this series, especially towards the end of the trilogy when things get seriously mixed up for him.

There are also some odd anachronisms
The anachronisms are one thing - but early in the second book, my copy had someone "thrust a hauberk" into someone's face. I can only presume they meant "halberd", as a "hauberk" is a long mail shirt!

Basically, it's fun.
True, and sometimes can be a bit silly. And yet - when I compare it to some of the more modern fantasy authors, in many ways it's more grown up - what some of the characters have to face, and deal with - not least Tanis and the twins. And the part where Riverwind thinks Goldmoon is dead and is about to kill himself I found to be an incredible moment of tension.
 

Toby Frost

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True, and sometimes can be a bit silly. And yet - when I compare it to some of the more modern fantasy authors, in many ways it's more grown up
I wonder if Dragonlance, given its origins, is in a very lucky place in that regard. Its setting requires everyone to be able to do anything (else they wouldn't play D&D), so it's considered quite normal to be a half-dwarf valkyrie who shoots lightning (well, fairly normal). Because of the wackiness of the setting, there's no need for realism in the sense of disease, class, race, sexism and people telling each other that they're not allowed to do things (and the resulting angst) unless there's some very specific reason. "Normal" in that regard is much like our "normal", and not some medieval person's. It would be very difficult to put a female knight, for instance, into a “realistic” setting without her being very similar to every other female knight in "realistic" settings, because the back-story would be so similar and the effects on the character would probably also be quite similar.

All of which makes me suspect that the opposite of Grimdark isn’t some sort of fluffy-bunny world where nobody gets hurt and it’s always summer, but a sort of supercharged awesomeness, a kind of violent optimism.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Because of the wackiness of the setting, there's no need for realism
The gaming system itself presents limitations and new possibilities - but by the sounds of it, the role-playing aspect allowed those people playing the characters to bring something extra - literally - to the table. This quote from Wikipedia sums it up nicely:

One player at this initial gaming session was game designer Terry Phillips, who was playing as Raistlin. According to Hickman in the foreword to The Soulforge, "[we] were just settling in to the game when I turned to my good friend Terry Phillips and asked what his character was doing. Terry spoke...and the world of Krynn was forever changed. His rasping voice, his sarcasm and bitterness all masking an arrogance and power that never needed to be stated suddenly were real. Everyone in the room was both transfixed and terrified. To this day Margaret [Weis] swears that Terry wore the black robes to the party that night."
 

soulsinging

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Well, finished the Chronicles again (actually a month or so ago). It was quite a ride! I'd forgotten how well paced the series is, with all kinds of great set pieces. The scenes of action truly came alive (the dream, Sturm on the wall, Tanis before the Dark Queen) and I liked the way the focus remained on the story and the characters throughout. Laurana turning the tide of the war is quickly dealt with, along with things like Sturm getting the dragon orb to Sancrist. I feel like GRRM would have devoted entire volumes to just those events, yet Krynn doesn't feel any less substantial for its comparatively sparse world-building, I think because the details that are provided are so vivid.

On the downside, book one definitely reads like a D&D session (oh look, a blob! now a dark elf down this corridor!). Tanis's angst can wear a bit thin towards the end and some of the writing is ham-handed (how many times does Tas feel spooked as an easy way to create atmosphere?). It really holds up well though overall.
 
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