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Reviews of 'Children of the Plains'

Children of the Plains

by Tonya C. Cook & Paul B. Thompson
Barbarians, Volume 1

Reviews of 'Children of the Plains'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of Children of the Plains. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.

Reviewer: Cassandra Jacobs

Rating: Stars

This book was really well written. Two young teenagers are left orphaned after their family is attacked by a pack of wild critters, although they each are unaware that their sibling still lives. The older sister bands together several families of plainsmen, creating the first tribe of nomads, while the brother gathers families together to create the first plainsmen village. The brother, Amero, also has befriended a bronze dragon named Duranix, who becomes the protector of the village, situated below his cavern home.

Several plots twist and turn throughout this book. Amero and his sister Nianki are destined to meet again and renew their relationship after believing the other dead for a decade. Nianki fights to maintain her leadership of her tribe, even though some members conspire against her, and eventually try to destroy Amero's village and his people. The Silvanesti elves are expanding their land and in the process are trying to drive the tribes off the southern plains, pitting their army against Nianki's people. An elven cleric seems to be working for the elves, but also maintaining his own agenda. A green dragon is trying to take over the northern part of the plains, pitting himself against Duranix. A plainsman, in love with Nianki is trying to do everything he can to acquire the savage woman.

These plots twist and turn among themselves, sometimes mixing, other times standing alone. I was impressed with how deep these plots went, and how complex they were. By the end of the book, some of them had been resolved, others left completely up in the air, to be continued in the sequel.

I found the characters very well done and Duranix especially was entertaining. His perception of the humans as "pets" was laughable at certain parts, and I could see how a dragon would find humans entertaining, yet bothersome. I found myself hating the traitors in Nianki's tribe; they were well portrayed as ambitious and vindictive people. I think the major thing that bothered me overall with this book is the "stereotype" that became evident with the people of the nomads. It's been obvious from the beginning of Krynn history that the Plains people are modeled after the North American native people. Upon arriving and settling into the village, the tribe showed an obvious trend towards drunkenness, alcohol addiction, thievery, and just downright trouble. Maybe this is characteristic of people who were made to be free roaming, and then find themselves "trapped" within city walls, but the band that eventually breaks loyalties from Nianki eventually show themselves to be raiders and attackers, demanding and stealing food and goods from the village. The portrayal of these people left me with mixed feelings.

Needless to say, this was a very well done book, and I was not disappointed in the least. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Review made May 23rd, 2002.

Reviewer: Craig J. Ries

Rating: Stars

Ok, quick review. First off, cover art: *tsk tsk* "No bows were used in the writing of this novel." A nitpick, but it seems to be becoming more common with book covers that they portray something that isn't involved in the novel, particularly weapons (see: Doom Brigade paperback).

Overall, there is very little to dislike about this book. Already pointed out a few things that Thompson was kind enough to explain to put things in perspective of the time period.

The yevi though. Early on, Duranix is curious how Amero can hear them, yet it isn't explored. Something for future explanation perhaps? I would expect the yevi to return, along with their green dragon leader. So like I was stating earlier, it's hard to say whether or not the trilogy is going to press through the decades (compared to centuries) as they did with the Elven & Dwarven Nations.

Overall, it's a good book. Some nice puns. Good start on characters and an outline of where to carry the trilogy from here. On the whole, it was a very good year for Dragonlance books and this book adds to it.

Originally posted Mon, Sep 25, 2000on the Dragonlance-L mailing list.

Reviewer: Matt Lynch

Rating: Stars

Thompson and Cook, too long absent from the DL novel world, have finally returned with their first-ever trilogy. The premier novel, Children of the Plains, just went back on my shelf and I have to say I fully enjoyed the book!

The basic plotline goes that a family of plainsmen is attacked by marauding creatures later called yevi. All but the elder brother and the sister are slain, although neither of the two survivors know of the other's continued existence. Amero, the brother, is later rescued by the bronze dragon Duranix and goes on to build the beginnings of the first human civilization, Yala-tene at the foot of the wyrm's mountain home. Nianki forms her own tribe/band of nomads who begin a war against the forces of Silvanesti, who are attempting to push the humans from their ancestral home. She renames herself Karada and becomes a force to reckon with, at least at first. As is bound to happen, the two reunite in Yala-tene after Karada's band is forced to abandon their cause temporarily when the Silvanesti army attacks them in numbers they cannot fend off. What happens afterward signals the beginnings of the bad feelings between barbarians and civilized humans that continues to this day.

Overall, the book was very well done. Cameos by Vedvedsica (actually, he was a semi-major character) and Balif add a cool twist to the book, and the characters are very well developed. Duranix is portrayed well, but thankfully plays a somewhat backstage role most of the time, allowing the book to focus on the prime characters Amero and Nianki. Cool parts included a ring of stones imbued with great power (perhaps huldrefolk trapped in the sunlight in their elemental form?), and a gold nugget containing that same power. They seem to foreshadow the coming of wild magic and magic in general to the civilized races of Krynn. The yevi are also cool and one can tell that they'll be back. The addition of an enemy to Duranix in the green dragon Sthenn was good, as it leaves open a future big enemy (perhaps in book 2).

The book seems very historically-accurate, as Silvanost is in the process of being constructed near the end of the book. As others have mentioned though, the rumors of minotaurs mentioned in the book might border on contradictory due to the fact that they MIGHT have been Graygem-forged (that's what Taladas: the Minotaurs says). Also, as one of the authors mentioned, the map has some non-canon stuff on it like the mention of Qualinesti where it won't be created for another couple hundred years. The other big thing that still irks me, despite having read DragonLance for almost 7 years now, is that just about every author NEVER looks at the dragon tables in the Dragonlance Monstrous Compendium or the Monster Manual. Sthenn is mentioned as being over 2,000 years old, far older than Great Wyrm status, yet he is bested by an elven priest in combat midway through. Also, and I'm not sure how much this came into play in this book, dragons do get bigger than 100' long. Their base sizes at juvenile age are just that, the base. Their sizes increase with every year, as evidenced by Malystryx, Khellendros, and Beryllinthranox all measuring beyond 350' in length (including tails).

Other than those minor things, though, Children of the Plains is a great read. It has a relatively low-fantasy (if you don't count the dragons) approach to it, no huge battles, and the feel of part one in a trilogy. Good job Paul and Tonya.

Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk

Rating: Stars

Children of the Plains is the first book in the The Barbarians trilogy, or, as I like to call it, the "Human Nations Trilogy". It concerns humans during the birth of human civilization, millennia before the Cataclysm. It is written by Paul B. Thompson and Tonya Carter Cook. I have an ambivalent relationship to the works of these two authors: Their novels are very entertaining and readable, but they also often contain elements (usually major to the plot) that are, in my opinion, too bizarre. These include the moon trip in Darkness & Light, the weird draconian and underground elves in Riverwind the Plainsman, the Dargonesti threatening the existence of Silvanost in The Dargonesti, and, to a lesser degree, the pregnant tree in the Elven Nations trilogy. So when I cracked open Children of the Plains and sat down to read, I was expecting an enjoyable book, but also prepared myself for some un-Krynnish twist.

Now that I have finished the book, there was no such bizarre plot element. Some minor nitpicking (there being centaurs before the Graygem, the book could easily have been without those references, a faulty description of the All-Saints War on pp. 130-131) is all I have to complain about continuity-wise (well, almost. I'll get back to it.) apart from the obvious: the map at the beginning which has Qualinesti on it centuries before the nation existed.

This book is very well written. A hunter-and-gatherer family of the plains is attacked by mysterious beasts, and only two survive: A brother and a sister. They are separated, and the two become chiefs of two separate tribes. Years later, brother and sister (along with their tribes) meet again. What I love about the writing is that the authors have the ability to let the readers into the way the main charaters perceive reality. By the way the characters think and act, we get the feeling of how it is to live the harsh life of a hunter. Through style and wording, the omniscient narrator's voice also works within the frame of reference these characters have. As a consequence, we as readers become less modern observers of what happens, and more a part of their alien way of thinking. Not all authors manage this, certainly not as well as here, even though it is pretty vital to any fantasy novel. Roland Green in his Pirvan books did something to that effect by including Krynnish words and phenomena in the language, but his writing didn't flow as well overall as Thompson and Carter's.

As characters grow and change, and as society grows and changes, so does the way they speak, and the way the narrator speaks. It is masterfully done. Amero, the brother, meets the bronze dragon Duranix and becomes leader of a peaceful settlement. Nianki becomes the leader of a more hostile tribe at war with the elves. The personality of the characters echoes those of the tribes they lead. Amero is kindhearted and a little naive, Nianki more rough and less a people person. Parallel with the tribes' development through innovations the characters change and become more complex. Even Duranix evolves. He starts off arrogant and even a little hostile towards humans (but not too hostile, he is exactly how a good but arrogant dragon should be), but eventually sees humans as more than pets.

A major overview of the plot wouldn't look that complicated, but upon closer examination there are lots of twists and turns. Everything is well put together, and, unlike the previous Dragonlance novel The Citadel, doesn't follow a well-known template. Every time we believe there is a cliché coming up, something else happens. When brother and sister meet after many years, there isn't a reaction we would expect to see in a "regular" movie or book. The potential love stories don't turn out the way they usually do according to book and movie conventions. The only time they use a cliché, they twist the result into something taboo, keeping with the mature nature of the book. Happily, they balance it out, and the taboo doesn't become sickening, but helps character development, and works very well.

The book is always interesting, but not always a page-turner. I keep reading the next chapter, but take a break to eat a meal (not to mention the other real life commitments I have nowadays). Also, due to the time period it is set in, it isn't as "dragonlancy" as many other books. This is pre-Graygem, which means no kender, dwarves etc. Elves play a pretty major role in the book, but the authors could have placed the book more firmly on Krynn and in Krynn's history by, say, having humans remember (via legends and tales) their slavery during the time of the ogres, and by having human clerics of the gods as tribal shamans. I believe that the gods would have made their teachings known also to the primitive humans, and that their clerics would be part of the tribal social structure (ie. shamans). Another thing is that the elves, at least at the beginning of the book, look more cynical and "evil" than I believe elves would. They look upon humans as savages, sure, but that doesn't mean that they (who revere all life) would be so casual about taking their lives. Another criticism is the cover, the dragon isn't that well done, and I would like some more landscape. That woman, which I guess is suppossed to be Nianki, looks more like a modern super model dressed up in medieval-style modern clothing than a prehistoric human (and certainly not the scarred Nianki).

Anyways, this is a book with writing, characters and plot that is topnotch and original. Of the Dragonlance books of the later years, I wouldn't place it as high as Spirit of the Wind and The Puppet King, but it's up there along with Legacy of Steel, Dezra's Quest, and Clandestine Circle. Well done, I am looking forward to Brother of the Dragon.

Review made Thursday October 19th, 2000 on the newsgroup.

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