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Reviews of 'Heroes and Fools'

Heroes and Fools

by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Editors
Tales of the Fifth Age, Volume 2

Reviews of 'Heroes and Fools'

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

Reviewer: Craig J. Ries

Rating: Stars

All in all, it was just what I expect of DL anthologies: lots of entertaining short stories from great authors.

I was raving a bit about all the oddity creatures in Rebels and Tyrants, and the only one of this anthology is the Boojum. Interesting story, that one, and that Knight of Solamnia in the story definitely isn't the same type of knight we saw constantly in the past, thankfully. It pushes more into the ground that Linsha Majere is being taken, and that's a step forward for the Knights of Solamnia, in my opinion.

Let's see... gnome story by Grubb... another great one.

"Tree of Life" by Miranda Horner, "The Bridge" by Niles, and "To Convince the Righteous of the Right" were all what I expected of the 5th Age anthologies: pushing forward the stories told in the Chaos War series in preparation for the years to come with War of Souls and Crossroads, Draconian Measures, and whatever else the DL authors throw at us

I recall reading some disappointment in the original spoilers of this anthology, in particular toward Kage's story "Much Ado About Magic". Myself, I thought the story very enjoyable, a humor we have needed to see for awhile when novels like Spirit of the Wind have put the kender in such a different light for the 5th Age.

Rabe's story as well was interesting (although the Sivak's shapechanging was a bit short in time-span... a couple of hours? I thought it was a couple of days they could hold the shape?), showing that not only Kang's draconian lot are capable of showing something other than the typical evil.

Oh, one last thing. Knaak's story, "The Thief in the Mirror." Excellent story, although I'm not sure about the little girl. Yet another case of pre-Palin's "discovery" of sorcery? Somebody take that guy's credit away. As well, the way magical artifacts are being thrown around in the 5th Age, they're going to be running out before long.

Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk

Rating: Stars

Originally posted on the Dragonlance-L mailing list.

Boojum, Boojum by Janet Pack

Janet Pack wrote a story about a kender and a Knight of Solamnia in Relics and Omens, and I didn't find that particularly funny, since it was so constructed and contrived that I could actually sense Pack's veins show in her temples as she desperately tried to come up with something funny to write. This one is better, not as forced, but still a story that is not as funny as it is supposed to be. Very average.

Tree of Life by Miranda Horner

This was a lovely story, about a Knight of Takhisis and a dryad who talk to each other, touching upon various philosophical and moral dilemmas, making some very interesting observations. I loved this story, or I loved it except for one thing. There was one thing which practically ruined this story for me, and as silly as it sounds, it is the matter of one little letter capitalized. If Miranda had just resisted the temptation to press the shift button as she wrote that "e" in "evil", this story would have been perfect. As it turned out, she didn't, and the beauty has a scar on it, a tiny scar, sure, but visible and ugly enough for you to focus on it, for it to be a turn-off despite the almost perfect beauty surrounding it. I am, of course, talking about the ridiculous habit of capitalizing "Good" and "Evil" that some authors have developed.

Songsayer by Giles Custer and Todd Fahnestock

This is a rather good story, also. While the plot is a bit familiar (dragonslaying heroes that really aren't brave heroes who defeat dragons after all), it was well executed.

Gnomebody by Jeff Grubb

This was a rather funny, sometimes hilarious, farce about how a non-existent gnome shakes up the wing of an entire wing of the Dragonarmy during the War of the Lance. I liked all of this story, except for the flying cows, which were too Monty Python, even if they were meant as a homage.

The Road Home by Nancy Varian Berberick

Sorry Nance, but I have to admit I couldn't get into this story. The plot was fair enough (although nothing really special), but I didn't like the writing. I don't know why it was written in that stylish way, but that made it a very heavy read, and I put the story down many times before picking it up again due to that. The style was annoying rather than compelling, and it ruined the story for me.

Nobless Oblige by Paul B. Thompson

This story is rather good. "Twist stories" are sometimes hard to get right, I love watching movies with a twist ending or perhaps a twist halfway through, especially if they make sense. (One of my favorite twists are Jacob's Ladder, BTW). There have been Dragonlance twists before, such as "The Best" by Margaret Weis, and another story about a keyhole shaped village in The Dragons of Krynn (Don't remember title or author, sorry). But some movies and stories have many twists, and those are more difficult to get right. "Wild Things", for example, was going way too far, with waaayyyy too many twists. "Nobless Oblige" has quite a few twists, and although it balances on a knife's edge, it doesn't go too far. The first twist is rather obvious to see through (and I believe the author understood that), the following ones are harder to predict. At the end, fortunately, the twists that turn things upside down are abandoned. But, masterfully, the story has a relatively conventional ending, but that ending is unpredictable due to the preceding twists, because you know anything can happen. Also, this story gives a view on Krynn that I liked, with forests and castles and bands of rebels. Well done, Paul.

Much Ado About Magic by Kevin James Kage

Kevin Kage (also known as Bard) (congratulations!) made it into an anthology with this story. It is a story about a kender, a gully dwarf and a group of gnomes who all believe that they have made magic disappear and are planning on attending a Conclave meeting with advice on how to get it back. A rather funny (but not hilarious) story, hampered somewhat by being unbelievable; how come all three groups thinks the same thing and happens to go the same magicians tower at about the same time?

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That by Nick O'Donohoe

Continuing the characters from the rather lame and confusing short story from Relics and Omens, this one is better, but probably not much, because I read it a couple of week ago and I remember almost nothing from it.

The Perfect Plan by Linda P. Baker

Linda is hands down my favorite Dragonlance short story writer, because her stories are both exciting and (at least "The Best" and "Lessons of the Land") contain a Krynnishness that is out of this world. Sadly, "Lessons of the Land" is always ignored when Dragons of Chaos is talked about, because everybody's busy talking about "There is Another Shore..." "The Perfect Plan" is more low-key than Linda's other efforts, and much more personal, because it tells the story from inside the mind of a character, but still much is not revealed to us. We hear she is not really a good person and her behaviour is a facade, but yet we do not know why she is like that. While we get into her thoughts, what is behind those thoughts is elusive. That was kind of interesting and intriguing. One interesting thing about the story is the erotic overtones in it; the main character uses magic as if addicted to it before she starts the day, much like others would jerk off to get reinvigorated before going to school or work. The sensuality of magic is described much better here than when Raistlin cast spells in any of the Weis and Hickman books, in my opinion, even though it is said that the little magic left in the artifact can't compare to casting spells in the Fourth Age. Because of the low-key nature and the personal point of view of this book, it has neither the Krynnishness nor the excitement of the previously mentioned Linda Baker stories. It does however, unlike Lessons of the Land, have a rather unpredictable ending. So this is a good, but not great, story from Linda P. Baker.

The Thief in the Mirror by Richard A. Knaak

A very good story about a thief trapped inside a mirror, forced to steal magical artifacts for an old, evil mage. I liked the plot, it was original, and with an ending that was both unpredictable and surprising, and refreshingly the ending was neither happy, nor sod, neither humorous nor shocking. It was good because it was... how should I put it... surprising but laid-back, it was not a "NOW I'LL SURPRISE YOU" ending. It calmly, matter-of-factly ended. I'd say more, but I'd put some more spoilers. Loved the story.

Reorx Steps Out by Jean Rabe

This story was rather funny. A sivak, in dwarven form, walks through the Kharolis mountains, and stumbles upon a village of drunken kender and dwarves. The question of why kender and dwarves live together in a village in the Kharolis is one I'd like to see the story behind, but that doesn't matter now because it is the perfect backdrop as the sivak is mistaken by the intoxicated inhabitants for Reorx returned to Krynn to summon the other gods. The sivak plays along, and things get rather amusing. The only thing I have against it is one consistency of some importance: Sivaks can retain the forms of their victims as long as they wish, but if they she it they must kill someone else to change their form again. In this story, the sivak could only hold on to the shape of the dwarf he killed for a few hours.

The Bridge by Douglas Niles

The survivors of the Hylar clan from the War of the Lance must pass a bridge guarded by a hill dwarf clan in order to get down from the mountains and into lands where they can survive before winter sets in. An OK, but not particularly original, story, as this time the mountain dwarves have to ask the hill dwarves for help to survive, not the other way around like it was during the Dwarfgate War. The story was OK written, but I was left with some annoying questions that should be answered for this story to make sense. First, how come the Hylar didn't stay in Thorbardin and rebuild, or get back into Thorbardin and rebuild? Surely, they prevailed against the dark dwarves in The Last Thane. Also, where does this story take place? North of Thorbardin? West? East? It can't be to the South, becaue straight from Southgate Tarsis lies, but still that is where the dwarves in this story were at the end of The Last Thane.

Gone by Roger E. Moore

One of the few fiction pieces that actually makes a story out of a major event in the 5th Age, and without contradicting anything to boot! I never liked that Enstar and Nostar were decimated by shadow wights, since they were unexplored places, but at the very least a good story came out of it. Roger E. Moore manages to deliver a very good and very Dragonlancy story again, (he really should write a novel or three!!), and a rather chilling one. It's predictable, of course, as each member of the party searching for a treasure at Enstar are one by one wiped out by the shadow wights and forgotten by the remaining members, but very well done nevertheless. The only thing that bugged me was that none of the surviving members were smart enough to realize that their comrades had been struck by shadow wights when they found clues after them, when they knew the wights' nature.

To Convince the Righteous of the Right by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin

An OK story about Kang and his brigade with the newly hatched female baby draconians as they travel from Kharolis to what I guess will eventually be Teyr. They are attacked by goblins (it would have been interesting to know why the goblins were so persistent, more interesting than the tired moral questions raised in this story) and seek refuge in a Temple of Paladine, which houses a small number of female clerics. Predictably, some of the clerics are bigoted against draconians, while others develop a maternal instinct towards them, and the story proposes a revisionist view on the War of the Lance and evil in general (with Kang saying he always thought those he fought were on the side of evil), and Kang develops one hell of a conscience. All in all, the views presented in this story were taken straight out of an average post in a typical "Are draconians truly evil?" discussion. It took a view I am partly opposed to, since I am convinced (based on textual evidence) that the Dragonarmies (and Takhisis) know that they were evil and did not do good things. I am also convinced that draconians are evil and are hard (if not impossible) to make good, yet here Kang lacks the shrewd pragmatism of his from Doom Brigade and becomes the goody-goody good guy instead. Any real draconian would have killed Hana on sight (and then slaughtered the rest of the clerics) if she threatened the children like she did in this story.


All in all, this anthology had many stories that held a relatively high quality, but like Relics and Omens, didn't have the ones that blew my mind out (like Dragons of Chaos had). However, none of them could have been set anywhere but on Krynn, and that was good, I think.

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