Monday 9 June 2008

Dragons of Autumn Twilight

I must be reading some older books these days because several of the cover pics I've had to use recently have been blurred and out of focus. I usually grab them from Amazon or Fantastic Fiction and I assume they're scans people have uploaded. Whatever, here's another one I'm afraid. Perhaps it would be better if I took an actual photo...

And then I discover that I actually *have* one. LOL.

That's a bit better. I think...

Enough faffing about.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (a chap, not lady) is the very first instalment of the huge 'Dragonlance' series of books. I first read about them on Deslily's blog; though I did know about them before this, I was just not aware that I might want to read them. Her reviews made me decide to read the first one (picked up in a charity shop) for Carl's Once Upon a Time II challenge and for the Here Be Dragons challenge as well. So I did.

The story concerns quite a large group of characters known collectively as The Companions. Their leader is Tanis, a half-elf who has been banished from the Elvish kingdom for reasons which become clear eventually. With him are Tasselhoff, the kender, twins Caramon and Raistlin, a warrior and mage respectively, Sturm, a warrior and knight, and Flint, the dwarf. They're meeting up, after five years apart, at the The Inn of the Last Home in Solace. There's trouble afoot - The Queen of Darkness threatens the land of Krynn and they've spent the last five years trying to find out what's going on. They're soon joined by two barbarians, Goldmoon and Riverwind, as they flee the town with the reptillian Draconian army in hot pursuit. The female, Goldmoon, has a strange and magical staff which heals and it soon becomes apparent that this is what their pursuers are after. Why? Their quest to find the answer to this riddle leads them to many places, strange mountains, enchanted forests, the ruined underground city of Xak Tsaroth and, ultimately, to the stronghold one of Queen's chiefs, Verminaard, and his rather vicious dragons who have captured large portions of the population to use as slaves. The Companions final task of the book is to free them.

The charm of this book, imo, is the characters and their relationships with each other. There is much humour and banter which translates as deep friendship and support no matter what the odds. But it's not all beer and skittles. The mage, Raistlin, is an ambivilent character if ever there was one. Is he good or bad? It's very hard to tell and it may be, in the end, that he's just out for himself. His brother, Caramon, is loyal no matter what though and a strong band of loyalty runs right through this book - you support your friends whatever the consequences. Not a bad message really.

I liked this first Dragonlance book a lot. It is quite clear that its origins were in the RP game of Dungeons and Dragons but that's not a drawback as far as I can see - my youngest daughter used to play, in fact. I loved the camaraderie, the humour and the sheer imagination that went into writing it. I'll definitely be searching out the next few books, but from the library as there are over 70 of them I believe and I can't possibly buy them all!


DesLily said...

hi Cath.. soooo glad (and relieved!) that you liked this book! It always scares me when someone reads a book because of something I said! ..though there are man Dragonlance books you can easily end at 6 lol
Dragons Autumn Twilight
Dragons Winter Night
Dragons Spring Dawning
Time of the Twins
War of the Twins
Test of the Twins
I hope you can find them used and cheap somewhere!

Ana S. said...

I really need to read this series. And yeah, like you I don't understand why everyone things that being inspired by D&D is such a bad thing. It's an imaginative game and it seems like fun.

Cath said...

I know exactly what you mean about recommending books to people, Pat. I've had friends read things I've loved and they've hated the book and it's terribly embarrassing. No need to worry in this case though as I really enjoyed this one. Interesting to note that the first six are the best... they'll turn up in the library or charity shops I expect.

Nymeth: I've never played D&D but I know my daughter loved playing and we used to watch a cartoon TV series with the same name. It was excellent. And this book was certainly great fun with great characters.

DesLily said...

I can remember playing D&D ONCE.. with my youngest son and some of his friends...
It took THREE DAYS!! hello? hahaha.. but I loved it because they didn't just sit there, they had to think and come up with action or counteraction to keep going! Though I didn't play it again I remember thinking this was such a good thing because the kids interacted with each other, conversations would run amuck and if you have to "just sit to play a game" why not have a game that keeps your brain really active?!!

Cath said...

I'm not sure I could think quickly enough on my feet to play D&D, Pat. My daughter's group (all guys except for her) used to alternate playing venues and sometimes it would be at our house. I'd go to bed and they'd still be playing into the early hours. At least I knew where she was! LOL.

Jill said...

I read these books right out of college, when I was living in Italy, and it was so painful waiting to get back to the States to see if any new ones had been published! I have fond memories of the series, and I definitely plan to reread it one of these days. I'm glad you enjoyed them!

Anonymous said...

Cath, I'm really glad you enjoyed this book. :] The characters, as you mentioned, are memorable not just because of their own conflicts but their values. Lovely review. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the rest of the series. It just gets more exciting as the quest continues. :]

Cath said...

Hi Darla. It must have been quite frustrating not to be able to get hold of the new books you wanted. I'm presuming this was before the days of Amazon. Whatever did we do back then!!

Orchidus, I'm so looking forward to checking out the library next time I go and hopefully picking up a couple more in this series. I just loved the characters - so many books these days are devoid of people who actually care about each other, so it was really nice to read a book where this is not the case.