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Reviews of 'The Search for Magic'

The Search for Magic

by Don Perrin, Kevin T. Stein, Jeff Crook, Linda P. Baker, Margaret Weis, Brian Murphy, Nick O'Donohoe, Nancy Varian Berberick, Paul B. Thompson, Richard A. Knaak, Tracy Hickman, Jean Rabe, Donald J. Bingle
War of Souls Anthologies, Volume 1


Reviews of 'The Search for Magic'

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Reviewer: Cassandra Jacobs

Rating: Stars

I'd have to say this was one of the best short story collections I've read. Usually I'm of mixed mind with these types of books, finding about half of the stories being very well done, and the rest are ok to mediocre, which is typical of anthologies.

Each story in this book deals with magic to some degree. Sometimes it's a wizard handling the magic, like in the story All for a Pint, a humorous telling of two wizards who are trying to create a magical beer that will instill hope to the devastated people of the world. Of course, they're attempting to make a few quick steel off the bargain as well.

Nancy Berberick's story The End was a tragic telling of an elf librarian who has to make a decision between protecting the books (and hence the history) of the Qualinesti elves and fleeing the city in order to protect the identities of the underground resistance. I can empathize with his pain at leaving behind the books, since I place a high value on my own personal book collection. I was a little surprised to see his superior turning on the elves in order to protect the books, showing how highly she valued the history of the elves over the present state of the elven way of life.

The Lost Sea is a very different sort of story, where the sea returns to landlocked Tarsis. I was left a little confused by the end of this story, wondering if this even really does occur in Krynnish lore, or was it all in the mind of the "hermit" that lived down by the abandoned shoreline, building his boat and waiting for the day the sea would return.

The kender and gnome story Some Assembly Required was definitely worth the read and laugh! I found the kender to be a little more dark and twisted than most kender would appear, and not quite as innocent as he would make himself out to be! His ulterior motives for creating war machines to destroy villages were just hilarious.

Paul Thompson doesn't fail to entertain either, with his story Go with the Floe. The idea of transporting a block of ice from a glacier isn't unique, as I have read about it in a Dean Koontz book, but his way of doing it with gnomes and their machinery, and the problems they run into just had me tickled. Pirates, raiding an iceberg?

The afflicted kender in Crook's story The Great Gully Dwarf Climacteric of 40 SC was quite a bit different from other afflicted kender I had seen before. The encounter with the shadow dragon was enough to cure him although the poor gnome and uncle kender weren't so lucky. Another entertaining story, although not one of the high stories of the book.

Bond, a story about Dark Knights and their bonded wolf companions, is dark and twisted, but very touching. It showed that no matter what kind of treatment is given towards these animals, their love and spiritual bond towards their masters surpasses all.

I know that people have bashed Jean Rabe for her writing in the past, but her story A Twist of the Knife is by far the best story in this anthology. An assassin is given the assignment to take out a female Knight of Solamnia, but before killing her, he's also to find out why she's traveling to the villages to heal people and who her superiors are, as well as her contacts. The assassin winds up as her traveling companion on the road, as she visits villages, using natural medicines to heal people. He eventually finds out that she has no contacts, is operating on her own, and to top it all off, she's not even a real knight! While she used to be, she never returned to her superiors after her band was slaughtered by dark knights, and as such is considered a deserter. The assassin eventually falls for the girl, respecting and admiring her dedication to healing the poor villagers. He turns his life around, taking up the healing arts under her tutelage, and dedicating his life to protecting hers from the subsequent assassins sent to kill them. A very touching and powerful story, showing how the knight lives up to her dedication to heal, even when she figures out her traveling companion intended to kill her.

In Knaak's story Hunger, a Bozak draconian finds a magical item that allows him to see the dead... namely the ones that are sucking the magic out of spellcasters. I found the Baaz draconians that worked with him very entertaining, as Knaak did a great job of portraying them as a little slower in the intelligence scale than the Bozak.

I really enjoyed Don Perrin's story Product Given for Services Rendered, about two deserter Dark Knights who happen across two "grave robbers". The knight's ending befitted their life... good riddance to bad rubbish!

The final story Dragon's Throat is by an author I've never heard of, Donald Bingle. For a first story that I've read by this guy, I was quite impressed. A kender, pursued by dark knights for a "magical" trinket he found, winds up under the protection of three Ice Nomads. Unlike the majority of these types of stories, the ending is quite tragic, with all three nomads, including a young child around the age of 8 years, and the kender wind up being killed by the Dark Knight leader. But their deaths are avenged by the Ice Nomads knowledge of the natural hazards... the knight winds up drowning after being stuck up to his thighs in sticking mud. I thought the author's use of two naturally occurring Arctic features found in the real world were very unique to the story. A foot note at the end of the story explains what these two features are (a glacial lake that empties every year, flooding a valley, and the deep sticking mud that gets covered by an incoming tide) and what they are really called.

Overall, a very well done book, well worth the read for anyone.

Review made June 11th, 2002.


Reviewer: Matt Lynch

Rating: Stars

When compared to other great Dragonlance anthologies, like The Dragons of Krynn, Heroes and Fools, The Magic of Krynn, and so on, this one, well, kinda falls flat. Very flat. While the stories are all pretty well written, they all seem to have the common denominator of a kender, a gully dwarf, or a gnome (gnomes made up the majority of main characters in this book) and attempted humor. Some were cute and funny, others, well, tried too hard. Also, I don't know what's going on at WotC (a division of Hasbro, Inc.), but there was a heavy lack of "name-brand" talent in this gathering. Nancy Varian Berberick, Linda P. Baker, Paul B. Thompson, Don Perrin, Richard A. Knaak, and Jean Rabe were the heavyweights in this book and, while that may seem an impressive gathering, the presence of Douglas Niles, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and the always show-stealing Roger E. Moore was very noticeable and missed. Anyway, that in mind, here we go!

"Introduction" by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Yeah, they're there, but only in the short capacity. I know, it's not a story, I'll move on.

"All for a Pint" by Brian Murphy

Brian's story is about a pair of former Conclave wizards who are attempting to restore a sense of hope and joy to the city of Palanthas in the dark times of the post-Dragon Purge 5th Age by creating an enchanted brew that made all who imbibe it feel happy and joyous. Their plans are put on hold when they discover the recipe has been stolen before they can finish the task. The story involves their chasing down the thief. On a whole, the story is okay and a decent opener, but tries at times a bit too hard to be funny. The ending is okay and makes some sense, but the whole thing is a bit... odd. Good first effort.

"The End" by Nancy Varian Berberick

Nancy's story revolves around a maimed young elven assistant librarian who is forced to flee Qualinesti when his parents are implicated with being rebels. He doesn't want to go, as he feels the Library is more important. Once he is in the dwarven tunnels, he attempts to escape and return to the surface, discovering a traitor in the process. This was a decent story, but not as good as past offerings from Nancy Varian Berberick. The best part was the appearance from maimed Stormblade hero Stanach Hammerfell. It just didn't have the same emotional feel that her past stuff has had, like The Inheritance, "The Long Road Home," and "Lost Causes."

"The Lost Sea" by Linda P. Baker

This story was about a somewhat crazy inhabitant of Tarsis who built his own boat in the hopes that one day the sea might return, all the while ridiculed for it. Then the Storm strikes (not Khellendros, the one from Dragons of a Fallen Sun) and brings with it massive amounts of water that engulf the town and set him adrift for the first time. The story involves responsibility and heroism vs. retribution and contempt and is a good one. One of the better ones of the anthology, the character of the captain is very well done and the story leaves you wondering what comes next. The only question I had was how the water made it that far inland and what happened after the storm. Good job, Linda!

"Some Assembly Required" by Nick O'Donohoe

A kender enters Mt. Nevermind and "inadvertently" makes off with a book of war machine plans from under a gnomish librarian's care. The gnome gives pursuit, visiting village after similarly named village, discovering the havoc the kender has wreaked. Eventually he catches up to him and they are hired to build the biggest war machine and "exhibit" it on other, rival villages. Murphy's Law kicks in for the offending village and it's typical kender/gnome hijinx afterward. This was a pretty good story, with the naiveté of the gnome being played up very well. The story tries to be heartwarming in the end, and succeeds to a point. Good story from Nick.

"Go with the Floe" by Paul B. Thompson

Another gnome story, this one involves a pair of con men marooned on Icewall by a vengeful victim. They manage to survive long enough to meet up with a gnome expedition harvesting ice for Mt. Nevermind. They go along for the trip and find zany misadventures along the way. Hands down the funniest story of the book, simply because of one of the character's penchant for making (bad) puns. The gnomes are excellently done and the ending shows that once a thief, not always a thief. Good job Paul!

"The Great Gully Dwarf Climacteric of 40 S.C." by Jeff Crook

Yet another gnome story, this one with kender and gully dwarves! (It spawns a laugh out loud reference to the anthology with those three races in its title, good job!) In this one, a gnomish doctor attempts to cure a scared kender who was found living among gully dwarves by making him stand up to the thing that scared him and drinking a potion at the same time. Hilarity ensues in the sewers of Palanthas, leading up to a mass gully dwarf exodus (hence the title) at the end. Plus, the story has an appearance by a rare denizen of Krynn, which is a cool touch and a nice adventure hook. Probably Jeff's best offering to date, shows he knows what he's doing with these three little guys. Good job!

"Bond" by Kevin T. Stein

The oddest story of the book, it involves a small cult of former Knights of Takhisis that have formed bonds with wolves and attempt to hunt down one that has broken the sacred trust by slaying his bondmate. The main character is a semi-abusive Karn, whose wolf, Blood, is always on the receiving end of some torment, yet loves him and protects him all the same. Pretty cool, but very odd. Almost out of place in the lighthearted anthology, but decent enough. These guys would be cool to know more about.

"A Twist of the Knife" by Jean Rabe

A fallen Solamnic Knight is curing sick people in Neraka and inadvertently turning them against the ruling Knights there. An assassin is sent to dispatch her, but is of the type who wants to get to know his mark before he plunges the dagger in... and wants it all to himself. Good story with a predictable ending, but is one of Jean's better offerings. She has shown major improvement, good job!

"Hunger" by Richard A. Knaak

Probably the best of the stories in the book, this one involves a small company of draconians investigating ruins in New Swamp looking for magical items for Sable. The leader, a Bozak, is dealing with the beginnings of magic loss and plans to overthrow Sable himself once he finds something big enough. A Chemosh artifact leads him to witness the appearance of the magic-eating dead we've seen in Dragons of a Fallen Sun and Dragons of a Lost Star and his battle against them drives him almost nuts. Very good story with a cool ending; good job Richard!

"Product Given for Services Rendered" by Don Perrin

Decent story about a couple of deserted Knights of Neraka who attempt to rob a couple of glorified grave robbers. Weird, short, but, like I said, decent. The ending was a bit of a surprise twist and out of nowhere, but I'm a bit biased, because this spot is usually where Roger E. Moore's Dragonlance stories sit, and this one, no offense Don, didn't live up to his legacy. But good job nonetheless!

"Dragon's Throat" by Donald J. Bingle

I know I wasn't the only one wondering who in the blue hell Donald Bingle was and why he deserved "main event" status in the novel. Nevertheless, his story starts out very good, about a section of Icewall that is of great interest to kender for all the artifacts it melts out every year. When Dark Knights come a-calling to find their own, the chase is on when one kender cries out he found Irda magic. The chase leads said kender to a group of Ice Folk (kinda), who set out to help him. The story climaxes above the valley of the Dragon's Throat, a jokulhlaup, where the Knight commander gets what he came for, but finds himself the victim of alluvial mud. Pretty good story, though it started stronger than it ultimately ended. Good first effort, but not really necessary for the last story of the book. Given its quality, I would have thrown Knaak's story here. Anyway, good job Mr. Bingle, hope to see you again!

Conclusion:

So there you have it. An okay anthology, but ultimately not as good as past ones. I also finished reading Bertrem's Guide to the War of Souls, vol. 1 and while I'm not going to review it on the list (since I didn't review his guide to the Age of Mortals), I will say go read it if you haven't. It's four novella-like entries, all of which are pretty good. Strong writing on all fronts.


Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk

Rating: Stars

The cover, by Matt Stawicki, made me eager to read this book. Just like every Dragonlance collection is a treasure trove of tales from the world of Krynn (although some are always more precious than others), so the cover includes many elements of Krynn in a painting that has a great composition. The face of the Knight of Takhisis, the moon with the dragon in front of it, the ship, the dwarf and the kender, and the silver-haired Solamnic Knight (could that be Silvara?) whets the appetite, and suggests a dark and somber mood to the book, an atmosphere that is to be expected in a book that hopefully will broaden the coverage of the War of Souls. My only gripe with the painting is that the kender looks like he's wielding a light saber he borrowed from Darth Maul. But what the heck. The back, with its faint figures of celtic patterns and dragons is also great, except they could have included more Krynnish-looking dragons than the ones that are portrayed on the map of the Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game boxed set.

The first story, All For a Pint, does not start off the collection in the mood suggested by the cover. It is written by newcomer Brian Murphy, and is a humorous tale of two former wizards who are experimenting on a magical brew that will make people more enthusiastic and happy. They experiment with dosages until they get it right, and then the brew is stolen. The story is mildly amusing, but you have to be instinctively familiar with how creatures on Krynn (minotaurs, kender, gnomes, the wealthy upper class of Palanthas) act in order to find their bizarre behavior after drinking the brew particularly funny. The descriptions could have been better in order to make the contrast between their normal behavior and how they act after drinking. All in all, though, the story seemed rather pointless, particularly with the "everybody forgot everything" ending. The author has potential though, with vivid descriptions and a knowledge of Dragonlance that solidly anchors the story to the world of Krynn.

The End by Nancy Varian Berberick is a more serious tale. I have been a bit dissatisfied with her work lately, particularly her style of writing. She has written in a very poetic style, experimenting with flowery language and unconventional grammar. In some books, such as Dalamar the Dark, the style has been particularly awkward. But even in stories more suited to such a style of writing, the writing didn't quite work, it felt contrived and a bit pretentious, and many of the similes just didn't work. For the story here, she has largely abandoned the too flowery language for a more straightforward style, but still unmistakably Berberick-ish. It works very, very well, and I hope that she keeps to this kind of writing in the future, particularly in her upcoming novel The Lioness. I look forward to that book, it is about what I found by far the most exciting about the Fifth Age: The occupation and resistance movement of Qualinesti. The End is also about Qualinesti resistance.

The End turned out to be a story that was not only interesting and great, but also one that struck a chord in me, and made me think. The story is about Jai, a librarian's assistant who loves books and scrolls and the history of his people. He finds his job very important. But when his family is threatened by being revealed to the Knights of Takhisis as resistance leaders he has to flee Qualinost. Ending up in the dwarven tunnels he finds himself in company with Stanach Hammerfell, the protagonist from Nancy Varian Berberick's first Dragonlance novel Stormblade. Seeing him again was welcome, even though it has been years and years since I read Stormblade. I still remember it as one of my favorite non-Weis & Hickman Dragonlance novels ever. It was great that his disfigurement, which made such an impression on me when I read Stormblade, was handled here. His reappearance is a well, non-cheesy and welcome way of revisiting old characters.

The story, of course, has a twist, one that I will reveal here because it is so important to why the story had an impact on me. Of course, one of the characters in the story is a collaborator, something that I predicted although I suspected the wrong character. The interesting thing was: The collaborator, the head librarian Annalisse, betrays her people in order to save the library from destruction. This made me think. I have studied and worked with historical records in real life, and I find it very, very important to keep knowledge. I am deeply disturbed by book burnings and bombings of ancient statues; and this story made me reflect more deeply on issues: Is it right to view the destruction of the library of Alexandria as a catastrophe in world history? Is it really anything compared to the Holocaust? What would I have done if I had had the choice between saving the history of my people and betraying lives of the people the resistance to occupant authorities? Fortunately, that is not a realistic choice for me (not that I'd be in any doubt, as much as I value human life above all else). As good as the story was, though, I thought that it might be better. At the end of the story, Annalisse is ice cold and cynical. It would have been much better if she, like all elves on Ansalon that value life so much they bow in apology before going to any battle, made a rational choice based upon two evils, and that she was determined, but not comfortable with her choice. It would have made her character as well as her dilemma more complex and thought provoking, and underlined better what I find to be the main theme of the story. Maybe the same can be said about the ending, where Jai will work towards gradually saving the records of the library by sending them with the elven refugees to Thorbardin. But I like that ending, it suggests that there need not be, should not be, a contradiction between reverence for life and saving life, and saving the books and records, the knowledge, of the past.

Linda Baker's story The Lost Sea is the first in the volume that seems to be set during, rather than before, the events covered in the War of Souls trilogy. It is set in Tarsis during the storm that took place at the beginning of Dragons of a Fallen Sun. This seemed interesting, lots of stories, humorous, tragic and exciting, could have been told about Tarsis during the storm the sea came back to the city for the first time in hundreds of years. I have thoroughly enjoyed Baker's short stories in the past, I consider Into the Light from Dragons of Krynn and Lessons of the Land from Dragons of Chaos to be some of the best Dragonlance short stories ever, stories that combined excellent character development seamlessly weaved in with vivid descriptions of the Dragonlance world and exciting, tension-filled plot. Her story in Rebels and Tyrants – Tales of the Fifth Age sacrificed the latter somewhat to focus more on character development, and this story goes even further. This story isn't about the storm coming to Tarsis. The events and setting, to the extent they are there, are merely background for delving into the mind of the main character. He is a rather mad fellow who, ridiculed by the general population, has a ship ready in Tarsis convinced that it will someday sail. When the storm comes, it does. The story goes into detail how the character sails the ship and how he experiences it, in a style reminiscent of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for me at all. A plausible reason, even from the point of view of the character, why he has a ship ready for sail in Tarsis is not even hinted at. I could never really get into what this character was all about, what he desired, why he desired it. For a "character" story like this, it is very important the reader can sympathize with the character. As it is here, he is thoroughly unbelievable and uninteresting. And with this story being almost only about the character, it hasn't much more to go on when he doesn't work. I got more interested as he started saving people living in the old wrecks in the bay, but it was too little (and too predictable) too late. I prefer Linda Baker more when she creates plots and tension and describes a world for her characters to act within. Those stories are in my mind much more exciting and compelling. I hope to see future stories of her, but I wish they will be more along the lines of Into the Light and Lessons of the Land than The Lost Sea. I would see her do something she is great at: Plot-filled, tense, Krynnish stories with great characters, rather than something she is not so good at: Stories based almost exclusively on characterization.

Nick O'Donohoe has been writing short stories for Dragonlance ever since the first anthology published soon after Legends, but has never written a novel. This short story is about a kender who manages to get a hold of a gnomish book about powerful weapons, and the librarian gnome who sets off to find him. The kender, later with the gnome, use the book to build machines for competitive, capitalistic (and children-exploiting) villages on the Sancrist countryside, villages that soon learn to use the kender, gnome and the machines to hurt their competitors. Fairly amusing premise, average executed. It gave me a few smiles, but I don't think it will be long before I forget it. The capitalist villages felt very constructed for story purposes, they were anachronistic and I didn't feel could believably exist on Krynn. And the story could have been set at any time in Krynn's history that there are kender, gnomes and humans on Sancrist. Not much of a War of Souls story, in other words.

Go With the Floe is yet another gnome story, by Paul B. Thompson. He has always (along with his co-author Tonya Carter Cook) written well, and his writing has, since Darkness & Light, been increasingly dragonlancy. His story is about two conmen who are stranded on Icewall by a captain they tried to swindle. There they meet a group of gnomes who cuts loose an enormous floe from the Icewall in order to get it to Mt. Nevermind. Quite funny and well written, although, probably because I started to feel the collection had enough humorous stories already, I'd wish he'd written something more serious and part of the WoS storyline; I don't think I will remember this story for as long time as his story about the Lioness in Rebels and Tyrants – Tales of the Fifth Age.

The Great Gully Dwarf Climacteric of 40 S.C. was yet another story written for laughs, this time about a kender and a gnome who set off to cure an afflicted kender of his fear. The quest takes them to the sewers of Palanthas and the gully dwarves who live there. I was interested as I started reading the story, the hows and whys of kender being afflicted are, I've heard as well as deducted from the War of Souls books, important to what is going on in War of Souls. I thought perhaps we'd get an interesting hint or two? No such luck, at least what I could see. The story is amusing and all, the descriptions are good and Crook knows his Dragonlance, but I would like to see him do something more serious, like The Restoration without Fistandantilus, The Rose and the Skull with a believable plot, and Thieves' Guild without illegitimate Heroes of the Lance children, unknown companion pieces to magical items appearing in Chronicles and departments of the Inn of the Last Home franchise. His potential is most certainly there, he should not be "typecast" into humorous stories, as he seems to have been lately (with gnomes central in his last two stories and his latest novel Conundrum.) And one last thing: I have a problem with the title. Every source that tries to date accurately the year of the first two War of Souls books set them in the year 38 SC. (The timeline in More Leaves From the Inn of the Last Home for example.) So the year in the title probably is wrong.

Bond by Kevin T. Stein was more serious fare. A religious sect created during the Age of Might by Takhisis has humans bonding with wolves in a deep companionship. Now, in the aftermath of the Chaos War, they have a problem as they encounter a remnant of Chaos that makes people turn on their allies. A man and his wolf must encounter a former brother, called the Forsaken. The story was good, with a nice ending. I have one problem though: The sect wasn 't rooted well enough in the Dragonlance world. Apparently, Takhisis summoned Canus, what appears to be a demi-god, who is the father of the sect. Stein has introduced demi-gods to Dragonlance before (Bast from Brothers Majere and The History of the Dragonlance Saga), but it still doesn't work very well. Trying to have the sect as part of the (secret) priesthood of one of the evil gods in the Dragonlance pantheon would have been much better, they could have been some kind of "speciality priests" of that god (to use Advanced Dungeons & Dragons terms). Explaining how the sect and their mystical abilities managed to survive the godless Fourth and Fifth Ages would also be in order. Good story, but not really enough of a Dragonlance story. With some name alterations it would have fit into any fantasy world, perhaps better than it fit into Krynn.

Jean Rabe's story A Twist of the Knife is about a female former Knight of Solamnia who travels around Neraka healing people. The Knights of Neraka don't want her there, and the story follows the assassin they have hired to get rid of her without leaving behind any clue of the Knights of Neraka being behind the deed. The story is well written and quite exciting, but suffers from a very, very clichéd and utterly predictable ending (and an ending that really doesn 't make sense for the assassin character, either.) There are some interesting things about the story though, the silver-haired knight is described in such a way that those familiar with Jean Rabe's first Dragonlance trilogy can't help but think she may be a certain dragon. And it might have been her magic that affected the assassin in such a way. But these hints should be followed up, the story might work well as a set-up for things to come, but feels less original as a stand-alone. Let's hope, unlike so many of the story threads started during the height of the Fifth Age products, that the hint is explored more fully.

Next is Hunger by Richard Knaak. This is a story about a very class-conscious (or should I say sub-race-conscious) bozak draconian who is sent, along with a small number of baaz underlings, to some ruins in a swamp by the dragon Sable in order to obtain magic items, as Sable has found her magic failing. Of course, so has the bozak, and this megalomaniac wannabe aurak wants to take the magic for himself. The bozak does find something, and it allows him to see for himself exactly why his magic is failing. And those of you who have read War of Souls know that it is far from a pleasant sight. I must say I loved this story; it was the one I found by far to be the most entertaining in the collection, with a great main character to boot. I didn't predict the ending, but neither did it have a "twist" ending. What Knaak did very well here was all the little details that really anchor this story to Krynn, the draconians, the symbol of the three moons, the old ruins, the old artifact connected to the old god Chemosh. not to mention the fact that the story truly is a War of Souls story. All in all, a story that is not as sophisticated, profound and thought-provoking as other Knaak stories (and Nancy Varian Berberick's The End in this collection), but very entertaining, fascinating and krynnish. As far as inconsistencies go, the description of baaz as more muscular and compact than bozaks does not fit well with the drawings and paintings of the various draconians.

Don Perrin gives us Product Given for Services Rendered, about a couple of renegade Knights of Takhisis who plan to rob a former cleric and a dwarf who lay the souls of fallen warriors not yet properly buried to rest in exchange for their equipment. This is a story that relies on the big twist at the end, but it was not wholly unexpected or clever as far as twist endings go. Don Perrin writes well, but the story this time seemed. well, inconsequential. I think I will forget it relatively soon.

The Dragon's Thorat by Donald Bingle ends the collection. It's about a kender that goes to Glimmenthal Glacier, a part of the Icewall that leaves many trinkets on the ground from an ancient battle as it recedes for kender to find. The place is swarming with kender, and some poor Knights of Neraka are sent there by one of the dragons in order to search for magic items after the dragons have found their magic to be failing. The kender finds a stone he gloats about being Irda magic, and is pursued by Knights of Neraka up the Icewall. He allies himself with some of the Ice Folk. The author is new, but he knows his Dragonlance. While there were some things that I'd like to have seen explored more, the history of the battle and the nature of the magic stone, the short story worked just as well without delving deeper into those issues. What I would have wished is for the Ice Folk (both the characters and their culture) to have been described more detailed and vividly. The ending was terrific though, and it was not a story for laughs in the way that I expected it to be. I would like to see more of this author in the future.

All in all, the collection is, like all Dragonlance anthologies, uneven. There were no stories that stood out as instant classics, but I found that the mediocre and good stories outweighed the bad. There were way too many humorous stories, and way too few stories that filled out the War of Souls canvas in the way that the best books of the Chaos War novel series complemented Dragons of Summer Flame. My expectations may have been too high, but when they publish a book called "The Search for Magic: Tales From the War of Souls" with that cover they're asking for being blamed for misleading marketing (judging by the content, this is the collection that should've been called "Kender, Gully Dwarves and Gnomes"). It was good to see Nancy Varian Berberick and Richard Knaak getting better, but sad to see Linda Baker removing herself even farther from the style I so liked about her first short stories. Jeff Crook and Brian Murphy are interesting future Dragonlance authors if they can get rid of their bad habits of trying to be too funny, and I hope to see more from Don Bingle as well. But of course, some contributors, Chris Pierson, Roger E. Moore, Douglas Niles and Margaret Weis in particular, are sorely missed.

Review made Wednesday January 23rd, 2002 on the alt.fan.dragonlance newsgroup.


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