I first read the Chronicles in the 80s aged about 11, and I've come back to them at regular intervals since. As my old copy of the Collector's Edition has finally fallen apart, I was delighted to come across this new annotated version.
The first thing to say is that this edition is stunning. The paper is high quality and it features both new cover art and some colour archive material showing the evolution of the characters. The annotations can be intrusive (they're printed in the outside columns of the pages), but I guess that if you want an annotated edition, then they have to go somewhere. As the last reviewer said, the notes do relate mostly to the links between the novels and the AD&D game, so will naturally be of more interest to those who are familiar with this.
On to the novels themselves. The first book is the most obviously rooted in the AD&D gameworld and is essentially a classic 'dungeon crawl' adventure, though a very good one. The story really takes off with the division of the characters into separate parties in 'Dragons of Winter Night'. The narrative impressively handles political intrigue as well as action.
It is, though, the characterisation that really sets the Chronicles apart. The heroes are well-rounded characters with enough flaws, contradictions and tensions to keep them recognisably human (or elven, dwarven, etc, but you get the point!). The narrative sets their inner struggles within the context of the wider crisis, showing the ways in which events of global importance may be shaped by personal choices.
If you've read any AD&D-based fantasy before then you probably already know whether you like it or not. If you do, then the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends, along with R. A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale Trilogy, rank among the best.
Just one final point: this edition seems to be aimed at existing fans, and the annotations contain plot spoilers. If you're reading it for the first time, it may be better to start with the Collector's Edition instead.
on 21 July 2004
This is a compilation of all the books in the Chronicles series, covering about 1.300 pages. But don't worry, it easily read! In the book, there are notes from the authors, commenting the current text, whether why someone got their names, or how certain events happened. However, these notes can be contain spoilers (or be jibberish for those not knowing the world of Krynn), so I would only recommend the book for those that already read the original books.
The only reason I only rate it with four stars is because of the spoilers in the notes.