on 26 July 1998
Wow! A great, heart-wrenching book that takes the reader back to the archmage's childhood. Pick it up and read it! Whether you are a fan of the dragonlance series or not, Margaret Weis delivers a story of complex relationships and family ties. "Soulforge" is a great prequel to the Chronicles. If you weren't sympathetic towards Raistlin before, you will be after this! The portrayal of the Test was short, and perhaps more emphasis could have been placed on this turning point in the twins' lives; after all, the Test is what the mage has struggled so hard for to begin with! Still, a strong book with great characters. Don't miss out! (Didn't that "fat innkeepers" line send chills!!)
on 14 August 2002
This is what a prequell is supposed to be - illuminating, plausible, and well-wrought with painstaking, heart-felt attention to detail. Margaret Weis is in her most enjoyable element, writing about her favorite literary child, Raistlin Magere. Soulforge fills in many of the legendary gaps in the Dragonlance rumor pantheon, enjoyably and elegantly. It reads well, and anyone who enjoys sci-fi fantasy can take to the characters as well as those who have known them for years. An outstanding book.
ALSO: read The Price of Immortality
on 14 November 1998
I recently finished reading the novel Soulforge. All in all I was very impressed, but I had one or two small reservations.
Firts things first, I was very glad to see this story fleshed out. From the first novel of Chronicles I strongly identified with Raistlin. I was also a sickly, disabled and gifted child who was hated and mistrusted by peers. My childhood mirrored his in loneliness and solitude. I suppose the wretched mage touches almost everyone pretty close to home, that's just part of his charm. For these reasons I was glad to learn more about his early life, something that was only hinted at in earlier novels. I found Weis's work to be very well designed and executed but I do have a couple of critcisms.
First, was it really necessary to portray Caramon as such a moron ? Even though Weis does on several occasions describe Caramon as a slow-thinker but one who invariably reaches the correct conclusion, I wasn't convinced. This is why. Caramon almost never took the initiative in this novel, he simply follows directions. When he did try to take intiative, he was stopped by his friends. If the other characters in a novel think a character is an idiot, then how are we supposed to believe that the author thinks that he is not ? I guess this must have been Weis's attempt to show the reliance that the Twins still shared at that point in time. I would have liked to have seen just one spark of brilliance from Caramon to foreshadow his later development.
My other minor complaint is that there seemed to be too little development of Raistlin's childhood. I could have easily read another hundred pages on that. I guess I'm just being greedy.
All together I found this to be an excellent character study type novel, and I have recommended it to others.
on 16 March 1998
This book was a great experience for me. Having read all the Dragonlance novels, this one somehow struck me as the most human, most personal. It is primarily the story of a young Raistlin Majere, aspiring wizard. It details his life from age 6 to 20, from his first day at mage school to his culminating Test in the Tower of High Sorcery. Overall, this book is good because it does a very good job of portraying Raistlin's growth as an individual, showing how he became the way he is in Chronicles and Legends. Look for appearances by other classic Dragonlance characters, as well: For instance, this book plays with the relationships between Tas and Flint/Tanis and Kitiara, as well as Raistlin and Caramon.
on 2 November 2004
The original Dragonlance Chronicles were the first fantasy novels I ever read, and they affected me a great deal. Over the ten years since I've read plenty of other fantasy novels, often more original and better written than these. Yet to me few of them come close to the appeal of the Dragonlance books. I think its because they are so affectionate and heart-felt, and you can really feel that Weis and Hickman care about the characters. This is what I like most about Soulforge. Its obvious that Margaret Weis cares a great deal about Raistlin, and so the reader ends up caring too. The other great thing about the book is that anyone who has ever felt lonely, powerless or jealous of a sibling- in other words most of us- can identify with Raistlin. The scenes between Flint, Tasslehof, Tanis, Sturm, and the twins, are genuinly funny and affectionate, just as they are in Chronicles. To me its so much more enjoyable to read about heroes like these, who are ordinary people with ordinary beginnings, than to read about exotic, invincible heroes who you feel you would never encounter in "real life" and so can never quite believe in.
There are a few minor inconsistancies between this book and Chronicles- things like Sturm being described as having brown eyes in Chronicles and blue in Soulforge, and there are many more differences between Soulforge and the events descibed in the Meetings series, but this doesn't bother me. In tone and spirit Soulforge is a worthy prequel to Chronicles, and I would recommend it to all Dragonlance and fantasy fans. It may sound odd, but I'd also recommend it to people who like books like Anne of Green Gables or Emily of New Moon, because the theme in Soulforge of an unconventional character misunderstood by the people of a small town is so similar to the theme of these stories.
on 26 February 2012
being as, eventually, it does add so much to the existing books.
And the soulforge of the title isn't an artefact or magic item as I thought before reading, it is an analogy of the shaping and hardening of Raistlin's character through his life experiences.
The strange that I refer to is that the book is actually split into 5 separate shorter 'books', covering differing periods of Raistlin's life from the age of six.
Books 1-3, being the first 150 pages of the book, cover his childhood, being discovered by a travelling mage, his tutorage in magic, the fate of his parents and meeting the other characters of the Chronicles.
It jumps quite large time periods and for me was rather domestic and pedestrian, although of interest to put into place the events that are referred to in passing in the other titles.
Book 4 is a very long one at around 160 pages and relates to Raistlin and the companions exposing a fake cult. I thought it was overly long, but it does set the scene for Book 5.
By this point I would have given the book 3-4 stars, but it picks up at the end as the companions meet for the last time and the scene is set for the Autumn Twilight as they all decide which ways they are going to go, to meet 5 years later.
This bit alone ties it into the series perfectly, with Flint sitting on the rock being in my mind whilst reading it. It would be possible to read Autumn Twilight straight afterwards and see it dovetail.
There are also ongoing references to the gathering troubles of the Chronicles which adds nicely to the atmosphere and also weaves it in to make it all relevant.
Book 5 is likely the whole reason most people will have bought the book, yet is only 86 pages long, half of Book 4.
But it does not disappoint and rounds the title off nicely to take it up to 5 stars and for an original reader fills in the gap of the Test that I first read the only sketchy details of 25 years ago.
It ends with 3 pages concerning Astinus and where it fits in in the overall series context. From what I have read of other people, they have missed that this is the official story of Raistlin's life, displacing anything previously written.
It uses the get out that anything else is misreported, misinterpreted or deliberately wrong. Therefore this IS Dragonlance history, despite whatever else has ever been written.
With Books 1-3 so-so, Book 4 strangely overlong for its significance and a short but vital Book 5 to end, this is not just more franchise fodder to be avoided it is vital for any Dragonlance fan and adds detail that will make Chronicles and Legends make more sense.
The last 100 pages is really the only 5 star part of the 408 for me, but overall it makes the rest more than worth getting through.
on 20 June 2010
Probably (well, for certain), the best book that I have ever read. I've read it more than 6 times and still I hunger for more. The story it's great and it develops fast. The main character Raistlin Majere, it's probably the best character ever invented in any fiction books. There are more than 16 books with him. I have read other books about him, and I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to know more. Some particularities that the main books didn't explain.
Well let me explain better...
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman wrote three books which were in Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning. There were many characters but the one that marked me and a legion of fans was a mage. An evil, selfish, mean, overly-ambitious human. So why would I like him?
Well for this and much more. We as read the books didn't knew why raistlin was that way, why did he hate his brother, why did he had an hourglass eyes and his hair totally white. We need to know more. And so Margaret Weis wrote Soulforge and Brother in arms (the second) that answer many questions...
The story it's about him growing up. The meeting with the wizard which will put him in wizards school. The teaching and learning of Raistlin. The family and the company first quest. The Test and the rewards (Well kind of).
In the end why do I and other people love Raistlin? That is an Hard Question :
Raistlin acts as a mirror. More than the images of his co-stars are reflected in those hourglass eyes. When we read about Raistlin, it's as if we're following the adventures of our own dark sides. In Raistlin, we see a little bit of ourselves. Maybe we didn't have tortured childhoods; certainly all of us don't share his personality traits. But still, in his struggles to be, ultimately, accepted, perhaps we find our own longings for love; in his bittersweet triumph, we find ourselves confronted with our own wishes for the power we may never find. Justarius summed this up best when he said, "We've all been laughed at one time in our lives. We've all been jealous of someone. We have felt pain and suffered, just as he has suffered. And we've all longed - just once - for the power to crush our enemies. We pity him. We hate him. We fear him - all because there is a little of him in each of us, though we admit it to ourselves only in the darkest part of the night."
But the reason I, personally love him is 'cause like him I have ashma as sick as him.. I've spent so many hours in doctors, and received air that I can't remember. When I was 19/20 I was in an hospital more than twelve times, each one one week. So, yes I know how he feels... I know how he is that way.. That's why I love him.
The best phrase that I summarized him and me is "Hope is the denial of Reality"!
on 26 March 2008
This is the first book I read by Margaret Weis without Hickman, and I was therefore interested to see the difference. Actually, the pace of the book is slower and more introspective than the Chronocles series. I would regard this book as "canon" and part of the essential story (along with Chronocles trilogy, Lost Chronocles trilogy, Legends trilogy, Second Generation, Dragons of A Summer Flame, and the War of Souls Trilogy).
FACT - Weis and Hickman are not literary geniuses. They flout several rules of good writing including their tendency to repeat ideas, recap plot points, tell you what to think (instead of showing you). However, there are few writers who can claim to have explored the depth of a character to the same extent as Weis does with Raistlin in this book. A great addition to the series.
If you want to go on and read Brothers in Arms, then do so, however, I would not consider it canon or essential to the story. However, it does give some of the background to the War of the Lance from the point of view of Kitiara, and is (reasonably) consistent with the storyline in the chronocles trilogy.
One point I would like to note - if you read dragons of autumn twilight straight after this, you will find that Raistlin's relationship with some of the other characters has "soured" somewhat, despite the fact the characters have supposedly not seen each other for five years. I found this a little unconvincing but this is a minor detail.
on 1 December 1999
This book is amazing, all unanswered aspects of the youthfull lives of Raistlin, Caramon, Sturm, Kitiara, Flint, Tanis and of course tasslehoff are here. And even fistandantilus crops up to give Raist a surprise only to get one back. I do however have one complaint (and I know it comments on the reason for this in the book.. but..) I did feel as though I had read it before, of at least some parts of it (The Twins series). Great though, now for Brothers In Arms.
on 14 August 2013
A lot of people gave this book 5 stars which surprised me. I found the book very slow. It's all very descriptive and not enough challenges for the protagonist. You have to wait till you're over half way through the book before things hot up for Raistlin (pun intended). I certainly wasn't on the edge of my seat until then. It might take years to become a wizard but I don't want to experience that in real time!
It only gets 3 stars from me.