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Chronicles Trilogy Gift Set: Three Volume Set: Dragons of Autumn Twilight / Dragons of Winter Night / Dragons of Spring Dawning Mass Market Paperback – 1 Sep 2001
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... which brings us to this review of self-justification via a guilty conscience to part with that amount of money for a book. This was the first novel in my pre-teens that ever encountered something called a "development arc", so in reading it again it took me straight back to those days where I followed Tanis et al with a sense of enjoyment I had not encountered with a book before. The characters all carry a sense of torment and have their own issues to deal with but what got me hooked was the group interaction between strong personalities that resonated throughout the series. That type of conflict between main characters was then highlighted for myself again in the short-lived sci-fi series Firefly - where the crew are all adults, trust each other implicitly and know they're good, but actually working with each other can produce awkward situations. For the Companions in DragonLance, their whole journey is not just to restore the Balance in the world, but also to change the sense of perspective in themselves at how they see that world.
Reading the first book again as an adult, it is clear to see that the authors were basically making the party "go here, then here then there" in a normal linear Dungeons and Dragons way - you can almost hear the roll of a 20 sided die in the background. Although the first book is deemed by many (including myself) as a classic, the height of the authors' craft reached nearer to their peak in the second and third books, where the characters were making choices for themselves and not necessarily because it was the moral thing to do because, hey, we're the good guys. By splitting the party up, the sense of danger became more imminent as the numbers were lower for each party and the conflict grew nastier - especially with the moral dilemmas going through Tanis's mind and also trying to see what Raistlin wanted to finally achieve.
The books are original in their scope of what the authors set out to achieve. Throughout the special edition, annotations by the authors are made on the margin of the main text. These provide many insights of how the authors got to a certain stage in their writing process and some have interesting personal asides.
This is, to sum up, brilliant. Gilding wasn't needed, the book shines by itself.
It has great characters and anyone familiar with Dungeons and Dragons will love it and recognise everything immediately. I don't think it's on par with Lord of the Rings probably but it's getting there in terms of depth of characters, breadth and detail of the world in which its based etc. And praise doesn't come much higher that that.
The book itself is well made, if of course a little on the large size. Personally I like that and I did buy the combined books 1 to 3 but you can get them individually if you wish.
All in all a classic and I am loving it as much if not more so this second time around. If either you played D&D, love Lord of the Rings or indeed any similar fantasy then I don't think you will be disappointed.
The story is set in a high fantasy world were the long forgotten gods are re-emerging. The evil gods are gathering their armies to take over, the good gods are finding champions to re-establish a balance. The main story arc follows a band of adventurers who inadvertently get caught up in the whole affair, and are tasked with helping a woman find a lost relic of the old good gods to. So it essentially begins with the old overused Quest storyline, but from there it evolves as the characters go forth on their own, splinter into groups, meeting up again, go off in new groups etc and partake in various roles within the overall war. Basically you never really know where the story is going, and it has many turns and twists.
The characters are interesting and each is different, although they are fantasy archetypes and so most never truly break away from some of clichés (e.g. the gruff dwarf, the honour bound knight etc). Tas offers humour and the trials of other characters offers tragedy and heartbreak. Raistlin is without doubt one of the greatest characters of all time. The imagination in bringing him to life and his story arc alone is genius, and he deserves to be listed with Gandalf as an icon fantasy character - except he's nothing like Gandalf; Gandalf defined the archetype mould for wizards, Raistlin looked at the mould, laughed at it, blew it up and decided to become the single most epic depiction of a wizard put to paper.
The book's relatively short compared to some other fantasies (Wheel or Time, Game of Thrones etc), and not as difficult to read as say Lord of the Rings. Therefore its an easy, enjoyable read. Although this is only when you consider the original Chronicles trilogy, as there are hundreds of books in the Dragonlance franchise, including prequels, sequels, midquels, side stories. Its amazing how many of the minor characters in this book actually have their own spin off novels. You don't have to read them however to enjoy Chronicles.
I did first read this series 15 years ago, and tend to read them every five or so years and I will admit they aren't as quite as good as I remember. Many of the characters are rather more cliché now that I've read other fantasy series, and sometimes I think there is far to much telling not showing. For example, one character later becomes the Golden General and we are told his/her soldiers will follow him/her even to death.... why? What inspired such loyalty. Seriously, one chapter the character is named General and the next has the unquestioning allegiance of an army? Why not develop it? Show the character earning their loyalty through leading them to some amazing victory.
Anyway, despite its flaws I still love it, its a good series and still one of my favourites. High Fantasy fans should read it.
If you liked it I would highly recommend Dragon Wing (The Death Gate cycle) by the same authors.
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