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Friday, June 09, 2006

cover of Dragons of Spring Dawning

So, apparently I waited too long between finishing Dragons of Winter Night and beginning this book. Unlike that one, this book picks up almost immediately where the last one left off-- with the companions separated and almost all of them in trouble. It took me a while to remember what everyone had been up to, and to remember not to pay so much attention to the writing-- but once I did, I actually got pretty caught up in the story and was interested to see how things would end. To the red dragons of the first book and the blue dragons of the second, this one finally adds the gold, bronze, and other metal-colored good dragons who help fight the war-- along with the fabled dragonlances that were discovered in the last volume.

While the story was engaging and the conclusion fairly satisfying, I found the characterization inconsistent and troubling. For instance: Tanis, the half-elf and leader of the group, makes many bad decisions and acts out of character-- he's rash and easily angered, yelling at people and alienating them-- all things that he wouldn't normally do. It's supposed to be this big struggle between his human side and his elven side, which is exemplified in his love for a human woman and an elf maiden. But the human woman he loves is evil and selfish-- even her passionate love is really quite selfish; if Tanis still loved her now because of the woman he'd known in the past, still the reader never gets a glimpse of a woman that Tanis could believably fall in love with. Another inconsistent one is the kender, Tasslehoff. Kender are supposed to be fearless, and see even death as an adventure, but Tas is inconsistently brave and fearful. He does certainly encounter some pretty extreme situations, but in most cases his reactions aren't handled with the subtlety that would make his usual fearlessness believable (his delight at flying on the dragons was one enjoyable exception).

It's strange that sometimes it's very pleasing and satisfying to have correctly guessed certain outcomes in a story, but other times it's boring. For instance, I knew that Raistlin was pretty evil (for all that he wore the red robes of a neutral magician through most of the trilogy), and that there was some connection with the ancient wizard Fistandantilus-- so I wasn't that surprised or even that interested when he finally showed his true colors (literally). It worked well with the resolution of the plot, but it just wasn't that exciting. In contrast, from the first time I encountered the fumbling, forgetful old wizard Fizban, I knew there was much more to him than that (and there were plenty of hints for the reader as the stories went on)-- but I didn't guess who he really was, and it was quite a bit better than what I had thought of myself. Maybe that is why the one surprise was disappointing and the other delightful.

Title:Dragons of Spring Dawning
Author:Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Date published:1985
Series:Dragonlance Chronicles
Number of pages:381


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