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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

cover of Dragons of Autumn Twilight

This book was written as part of the Dungeons & Dragons universe, and the story was apparently developed as a new role-playing module when it was written. The story feels a bit like a rip-off of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, with a strange group of different kinds of people going through various lands on a desperate quest. The group is led by a half-elf, Tanis, and includes a dwarf, a knight, a pair of twins--one a burly warrior and the other a sickly, but powerful and mysterious, mage-- and even a kleptomaniac kender, a halfling a bit like a hobbit-- but more playful and immune to fear. Along the way, the group picks up a barbarian pair, Romeo and Juliet type lovers from their tribe, with a mysterious blue crystal staff, and discover that the presumed-mythical dragons actually do exist, and that they are part of an army poised to overrun their land.

The story is fairly interesting, although not as tight as I would like-- there are a lot of threads left hanging at the end, and I hope at least some of them will be resolved in the books that follow in this trilogy (an unfortunate tendency of authors who can't seem to trust to the quality of their writing and characters to make readers want to find and read any sequels). The writing and descriptions tend to be a bit overblown, and sometimes don't quite make sense if you pay too much attention to the writing. In other places, things seem to be needlessly complicated -- for instance, the dragons all have two names, a human name and a dragon name. Their names are interesting, but the complication of having to remember and relate two different names seems unnecessary. The heroes quest doesn't seem to be very direct; it almost seems as if they are wandering all over the land of Krynn, first here, then there, back and forth, and that makes it harder to engage with the book. I suppose, though, that it would be more fitting for a role-playing game, because it would allow you to revisit the same lands and territories.

Some of the plot points seem to hinge on certain religious questions of these lands (the old gods are missing, the priests are 'Seekers' of new gods), and that-- among other things-- made it harder for me to engage with the story. The characters are all fairly interesting (and each, of course, has their own backstory and struggles)-- although they still seem a bit clich├ęd, perhaps because they are the character types you would play in a game. The book definitely picks up in the last third, when the action gets more dramatic and exciting, and while in some cases it is not quite believable, and in others it is a bit predictable, it still makes for a fun ride.

Title:Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Author:Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Date published:1984
Genre:Fantasy
Series:Dragonlance Chronicles
Number of pages:447
Notes:Recommended by G.

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