Bones of the Dragon by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is the first novel in a new six book series titled Dragonships. I scoured the internet for the names of the names of the other books, but was unable to find any information. Fans of the fantasy genre will no doubt recognize Weis and Hickman from their Dragonlance Chronicles fame. However, this duo has collaborated on many wonderful series such as; The Deathgate Cycle, Sovereign Stone Trilogy, and The Darksword Trilogy. This series marks another foray into the genre. Here are my thoughts on this novel.
This book actually has a couple main plots woven together to create a larger story. Some of the plot lines include; the gods of the Vindrasi are no longer answering prayers and seem to have disappeared, the theft of a holy relic of the Vindrasi people and what they have to do to get it back, there are also a couple separate political sub plots as well, an of course there is the requisite love interest storyline as well. In all, the plot of this book is well laid out with just enough action to keep things going. Ms Weis and Mr. Hickman do a good job of introducing the reader to a new world and how it works. There were a few things I would have liked more information of, but in the interest of word count I can understand why they were either omitted or edited. My one complaint about the plot of this book is that it felt entirely too much like plots from their previous books. For instance, the disappearance of the gods (i.e see the Dragonlance Chronicles plot), a missing holy relic (i.e. Discs from Dragonlance) and a couple other instances. Now, I understand this is its own book, but comparisons are going to be drawn between the two regardless. I just wish there was more done to separate the two stories. Looking at this book purely by itself, it was an enjoyable read.
The characters in this book are both endearing and frustrating. There are several characters who play prominent roles in this book, and will most likely continue to play those roles in future novels, characters such as; Skylan, Garn, Aylaen, Treia, Kahg, and Wulfe. The most endearing of those characters is by far Wulfe. He is a character I instantly connected with and wanted to know much more about, he also has the tinge of mystery tied in as well. Garn was another character I enjoyed. Fiercely loyal, almost to a fault. Oddly enough, I did not care for the main character much at all. Skylan just seems to be to nice of a fit. What I mean is that he is very young, but already the war Chief of his tribe and his actions are very inconsistent. Several times during the book characters make a point of explaining how reckless Skylan is. However, he seems to act in two different manners. One is as a young man not familiar with things, brash and reckless. But other times, he seems to act like a wizened elder. The dialogue for the characters was well done and for the most part I felt that each character spoke with a unique voice. There was also a substantial amount of character development for the main characters which was nice to see. Skylan was the only character was not able to connect with on some level, the rest of the characters were well done and complimented the story very well.
A couple criticisms about this novel:
1 - As I said above, I wish pieces of the plot did not have the feeling of `been there done that'. A couple plot elements just seemed too much like elements in other books by these two authors. In fact when I first read about the gods I inwardly groaned. I understand the adage don't fix what is not broke, but I am left to wonder if it could have been done a different way.
2 - The inconsistent actions by Skylan. To me, he really seemed like two separate characters by how he acted. He does have some nice character progression, but there is something about him that just didn't work for me. Actually, now that I think about it, I have a lot of the same feelings for him as I did for Sturm Brightblade.
Some things I liked about this novel:
1 - The uniqueness of the setting. I loved the Scandinavian/ Nordic feel of this novel. The rugged terrain, how people survive, etc. The world worked really well. I would have liked to learn a little more about it to start with, but this being the first of six books we will most likely learn more later.
2 - Wulfe. I really can't say enough good things about this character. I really enjoyed his plight, his story, and his actions. This is what a character should be. Although, he does have the tendency to steal every scene he is in. But I was completely okay with that.
3 - As readers have seen time and time again, when Ms. Weis and Mr. Hickman get together, their prose, storylines, and characters can create a certain magic. That is again the case with his book. I have always enjoyed the even flow of the prose these two authors produce and this book is no different.
Starting a new series is always taking a chance, however when authors have such a good track record as these two there was little doubt I would not be entertained. This is a solid fantasy novel and has tings in it that will please almost all fans of the genre. Readers looking to dabble in the genre could very easily pick this book up and not be lost at all. If you enjoyed the Dragonlance novels I firmly believe you will enjoy this one as well. In fact, if you didn't enjoy the Dragonlance books, I would still suggest giving this one a read because while there are similarities there are enough differences as well. When all is said and done, I am glad I picked this one up and will eagerly be looking forward to the next installment.