Reviews of 'The Kagonesti'
Reviews of 'The Kagonesti'
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The Kagonesti is the story that delves into the historical routes of the Wild Elves. It's told in three parts, each part focusing on a different Pathfinder – a leader who guides the Kagonesti in their development. The book was written by Douglas Niles and is part of the Lost Histories Series of books.
Synopsis of Story (Minor Spoilers Ahead)
The story opens with Kagonos running through the forests and enjoying his solitude amongst nature. While on his excursion, he beholds a site never before seen by any Wild Elf – a Grandfather Ram. Kagonos, wanting very much to get a closer look at this Ram closer, ascends a mountaintop to find the Ram. There, he rescues the Ram from being shot by a House Elf - a person by the name of Quithas Griffontamer. During the struggle against the house elf, Kagonos takes an enchanted axe from Quithas and thus saves the Ram's life. The Grandfather Ram, it turns out, is really Darlantan, a Silver Dragon.
Darlantan appoints Kagonos the Pathfinder of the Wild Elves and gives him a Ram's Horn as a symbol of leadership amongst his people. A second copy of the Ram's Horn will be kept by the Silver Dragons as a symbol of kinship between the two races.
Part One, which takes place some years after the events in the prologue, is concerned with the Dragon War. Kagonos and his wild elves have to capture the bluestone, which will allow for the imprisonment of blue dragons. Failure to do so will result in the blue dragons sweeping across the land and destroying the forces of Silvanos.
Kagonos discovers that Ogres have stolen the bluestone and hidden it away in the Khalkist Mountains. Upon capturing the bluestone, and victory over the Dark Queen's forces, Kagonos and the Wild Elves meet Silvanos at his camp. Here, Silvanos makes Kagonos an offer; namely to become House Servitor. Kagonos recognizes that this will result in the destruction of the wild elves way of life; thus, he refuses to take part.
Quithas Griffontamer later attacks Kagonos in order to avenge his loss from so many years ago. This attack spurs Kagonos into leaving the High Elves. With the help of the Ram's Horn, the wild elves receive permanent tattoos as a symbol of their battles and distinction amongst the High Elves. Silvanos, recognizing that the wild elves will not become House Servitor, informs Kagonos that no longer will the wild elves be called wild elves. Instead, he names them Kagonesti thus creating the Kagonesti nation.
In Part Two, which takes place during the time of the Third Dragon War in 1019 PC, Ashtaway, the nephew of Iydaway Pathfinder, comes upon the Knights of Solomnia in battle with two red dragons. This becomes a pivotal point in Ashtaway's life as he realizes that humans are not dishonorable.
After observing this battle, he hears a Ram's Horn being played. Hearing the call of the horn, Ashtaway begins running towards its location. Along the way, he meets Hammana, another Kagonesti who heard the call. Both Hammana and Ashtaway discover that it wasn't Iydaway Pathfinder who blew the horn; rather, it was the silver dragon Lectral. He has been injured in a fight with four red dragons. Hammana, who is a healer, tends to his injuries while Lectral informs Ashtaway of the upcoming battles and the noble deeds of Huma Dragonbane. For more info on the battle between Lectral and the red dragons, readers should see Chapters 33 and 35 in the book in the book The Dragons.
Leaving Hammana with Lectral to tend to his wounds, Ashtaway returns home only to find it besieged by Bakali. Seeking revenge against the Bakali, the surviving Kagonesti decide to attack the Bakali; however, the cost is high as Iydaway Pathfinder is mortally wounded. Thus, the mantle of Pathfinder passes to Ashtaway.
During this battle, a human knight by the name of Sir Kamford Willis helps the Kagonesti by preventing the Bakali from escaping. This event intrigues Ashtaway, who wants to discover more about this man and the events transpiring in the world. After learning about the battles with the Dark Queen and the significance of Sanction to her plans, Ashtaway offers to help the knight find a way through the forest and mountains to Sanction. Many of the wild elves are not pleased with this decision; however, they respect the decision of their Pathfinder.
During the battle of Sanction, Ashtaway sees how valiant the knights fight against the ogres and the dragons. He assists in their escaping Sanction and learns yet another lesson about the ways of men. One knight, Sir Blayne, sacrifices his life in order to allow the others to escape. This act causes Ashtaway to recognize that he must change in order to survive in the ways of the new world. Thus he vows that he will break with tradition and take a wife; he plans to ask Hammana to marry him.
As the Third Dragon War comes to an end, Lectral visits with the Kagonesti to explain that all of the dragons will be leaving Krynn. This is the price for an ending to war.
In Part Three, the story becomes darker as the world is on the brink of destruction due to the Kingpriest's follies. Istar decides that the Kagonesti need to be removed from the face of Krynn. Disaster upon disaster fall Kagonesti villages as the troops of Istar destroy each one. One Kagonesti, Iydahoe sees the villages being destroyed and vows revenge upon the people of Istar. However, a further injury has been inflicted on the Kagonesti – their Pathfinder has been killed and the Rams Horn has been shattered.
Iydahoe, as one of the few hunters left alive, tries to lead the remaining Kagonesti into safety and provide for their needs. Soon, however, he begins to doubt himself. After being captured by a caravan heading from Silvanesti to Istar, Iydahoe meets with Wellerane, a cleric of Mishakal. He also meets his daughter Vanisia. The cleric informs Iydahoe that in thirteen days, the gods will destroy Istar and that all true clerics will be removed from Krynn.
After their discussion, the cleric Wellerane is taken away by another cleric – Loralan. As the true clerics are removed from Krynn, Iydahoe and Vanisia make their escape. As the days count down to the destruction of Istar, the forests, lands and sky begins to change with the growing wrath of the gods. Trees bleed and animals go insane. Finally realizing his responsibility to his people, Iydahoe lead his people out to the tops of the mountains in hope of survival.
What I liked about the story:
1) Douglas Niles provides an eloquently woven textual description of life in the forest. In many places, the descriptions are so real that it seems like you are sitting in the forest watching the events unfold.
2) The description of how the Wild Elves received the name "Kagonesti" was very informative and enlightening. I cannot recall if this was every indicated in another book. I think readers will be pleasantly surprised when they learn who named the Kagonesti.
3) This book matches closely the events described in the book The Dragons. The inclusion of Darlantan, Lectral, and Saytica helps complete a circle between these two books. Reader should read both of these books one after the other because in many ways, the stories are entwined – one told from the point of view of the dragons while the other is told from the point of view of the Kagonesti.
4) The inclusion of the lost race, the Bakali, during part two, was a nice treat. Douglas Niles does a fabulous job at explaining what the Bakali look like and how they act in battle. It's not often that these lizard men are featured in a story; thus, their inclusion in this book is certainly a strong point.
5) The fact that this book is written in three parts spanning centuries of time on Krynn is unique. Douglas Niles offers, in essence, three short stories to readers that are tied to pivotal historical events on Krynn. This style of story telling makes for some interesting readings.
This book is a very strong Dragonlance novel. The story is intricate in details yet not complicated to understand. In short, Douglas Niles breathes life into a little-known people and thus expands the world of Krynn for us. If you are interested in looking at the pivotal historical events on Krynn through the eyes of the Kagonesti, you must read this book.
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