Review: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (spoilers)


Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first book in the Dragonlance Chronicles and written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, follows a group of heroes as they reunite after spending five years apart, looking for signs of the gods of old and of impending war. Their reunion and the chance encounter with a barbarian and her lover leads them on an adventure that turns into a quest to save the world of Krynn.

It's good. Really good. It had it's faults though. First, was the party's habit of camping down and sleeping when it seemed odd to do so or when other matters were more urgent. At one point, they spend the night in a prison cell in a mine that's inside a giant fortress crawling with Draconians - foul creatures that turn to stone, release acid, or explode when killed. Now that's variety! The other problem is the sheer number of characters. At the start of the book, the party consists of:
  • Tanis Half-Elven: Leader of what eventually becomes known as Heroes of the Lance. Constantly struggles with mixed-race origins because his mother, an elf, was raped by his father, a human.
  • Sturm Brightblade: the noble Knight of Solamnia.
  • Caramon and his brother Raistlin Majere: Former is a big ole warrior and the latter is a mage and resident dick.
  • Flint Fireforge: a very old dwarf.
  • Tasslehoff Burrfoot: a Kender, which is kind of a Halfling type race, but with kleptomaniac tendencies and possibly ADHD.
  • Goldmoon and Riverwind, the former is the daughter of their tribe's chieftain. The latter is her lover who, for not believing in the tribe's deities and being a lowly shepherd, was sent on a wild goose chase/suicide mission, but survived and returned with a magical staff of healing. They end up having to go on the run and the rest of the Heroes get caught up in the ensuing mess. Goldmoon later becomes the cleric of Mishakal, which is a big deal, since clerics disappeared thousands of years prior to the story, when the gods themselves went away.
Later on, they gain several more members:
  • Tika Waylan, barmaid and fighter-in-training, which more accurately means that she's a danger to everyone around her when she's wielding a sword.
  • Laurana, elf-maiden and like Tika, an amateur fighter. Was once bethrothed to Tanis.
  • Fizban: Elderly mage. It's hinted that despite his forgetfulness and age, he's actually very powerful and that his appearance is a disguise, given the way Raistlin acts around him.
  • Gilthanas: Elven warrior. Brother of Laurana and formerly friends with Tanis.
  • Eben: Human fighter that the party encounters while on their way to Pax Tharkas, the aforementioned giant fortress. Turns out to be a traitor and dies.
  • Bupu: Gully dwarf the group meets in Xak Tsaroth. Raistlin enchants her with a spell and she acts as their guide for a fair chunk of the book, until they leave the city and start to head back to their hometown of Solace. Raistlin releases her and in a touching moment, he shows genuine caring and affection for her.
So yeah, even with Bupu's temporary status, the party almost doubles in size and the problem there is that Weis and Hickman visibly have trouble including all of them in the story. There are many times in the story, especially during action scenes, that some of these characters, including some of the originals aren't mentioned at all. "Too many cook's in the kitchen" is a pretty apt metaphor.

Nonetheless, the story is good and I highly recommend it. Yeah, I'm not very good at reviews, lol.

Comments

  1. This was the book that got me into the fantasy genre. I agree that we are introduced to a plethora of characters in this book, but most of them get fleshed out well throughout the series. Tanis is one of the most complex characters i've ever read about.

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