Reviews of 'The Annotated Dragonlance Legends'
Reviews of 'The Annotated Dragonlance Legends'
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The Dragonlance Legends trilogy is the now-famous story of Caramon, Raistlin and Crysania and their journey through time. The newest edition of that trilogy, The Annotated Legends, takes the three books that comprise the trilogy, binds them together into a single 1,200-page volume, and adds comments from the authors that provide wonderful insights into the story. A must for any fan of Legends, The Annotated Legends also includes several appendices to the story that explain many of the questions fans have had over the years with how the time travel in the story works.
Like the Annotated Chronicles before it, the text of Legends is compressed into the center of the novel to allow for white space in the margins where Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman contribute their thoughts about particular passages to the reader. In addition, there are comments sprinkled throughout the book from poet Michael Williams and from the book's editors as well.
The annotations done by both Weis and Hickman really provide a lot of insight into the character development and thought process behind some of the decisions taken in writing the novels. Many of the notes relate specifically to how symbolism works in the books, making the annotated edition of Legends a nightmare for any English teacher thinking of assigning an essay on the subject. The number of biblical references comparing events in the text to those in the Bible is not insignificant: a note in the margin when Dalamar is describing Raistlin's plans to become a god to the conclave in the opening book points the reader to a Lucifer reference in Isaiah 14.
Not all of the annotations are nearly as somber, however. In one, Margaret relates why she believes kender talk to themselves. In another, she describes the phone conversation she had with Tracy immediately after writing the finale to Time of the Twins, and Tracy's solution to the problem ("Let me tell you what happens after he dies..."). Tracy also tells us of the origins of some of the words in Dragonlance, such as the Solamnic language (Latin) and the language of magic (Indonesian).
Michael Williams' comments center on his work with the various songs and poems in the book. With the exception of the rhyme for the Device of Time Journeying, all of the songs in Legends were written by Williams. Most of his comments reflect the work he did, such as trying to match up the rhyme and meter of the various lines, and the technicalities of slant rhyme in classical poetry.
In addition to comments by the trilogy's three major contributors, the editor of Legends is quite often present as well. Unlike Annotated Chronicles before it, Legends contains references to other books in the Dragonlance series that provide additional background. For example, there is a reference to Paul Thompson and Tonya Cook's Darkness and Light, when Tasslehoff hopes that Gnmish's fumbling with the Device of Time Journeying won't transport them to one of the moons. Annotations relating to events in the Chronicles and Legends series are marked with both the title and chapter; some other notes in the margins include short excerpts from the Dragonlance Campaign Setting sourcebook and provide background information for the reader.
At the back of the book are some additions unique to Annotated Legends and not found in the original trilogy. Margaret Weis has penned a new afterword, and there are four appendixes, three by Tracy Hickman and one by Jeff Grubb. The first three by Hickman include a short essay on "The Mythic Journey" according to Joseph Campbell, "Temporal Kenders," which explains the time travel, alternate histories, and a diagram of how the river of time was altered by Tasslehoff's entry, and "Faith and Fantasy," an essay on how his faith influences his writing. The fourth appendix is a copy of an email that Jeff Grubb sent to one of the members of the Dragonlance-L mailing list—also published in Dragonlance.com's articles section—that details the gods of Krynn.
On the whole, Annotated Legends is an excellent book, and the insights into the story given by the authors' annotations are worth the price of admission. There are a number of minor typographical errors in the book, but aside from this minor flaw, this is definitely a book that should be on the Dragonlance collector's shelf. If you've never read Legends before, you should probably skip the annotated edition for now—the annotations have a tendency to spoil the events that have yet to transpire in the novels, though you will certainly want to read this edition after you've completed the story the first time.
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