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Reviews of 'Temple of the Dragonslayer'

Temple of the Dragonslayer

by Tim Waggoner
The New Adventures, Volume 1


Reviews of 'Temple of the Dragonslayer'

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Reviewer: Darlaten

Rating: Stars

Synopsis of Story (Minor Spoilers Ahead)

In a forest south of the town of Tresvka, a young girl wakens to find herself being held captive by three goblins named Drefan, Gifre and Fyren. Unfortunately, the girl has no memories of who she is - her name, though, is Nearra. Whilst trying to escape from the goblins, Nearra encounters Slean, a green female dragon who has her own intentions of what to do with Nearra - eat her! But all is not lost when the White Wizard Maddoc and his guide Davyn saves her. Maddoc recommends visiting Tresvka to speak to a healer who may be able to restore her memories. However, as the story progresses it becomes clear that neither Davyn nor Maddoc are being entirely truthful. What are they hiding from Nearra?

While in Tresvka, Nearra and Davyn meet with a number of individuals who eventually take up her cause - to help restore her memory. There is a kender who claims that he is a wizard by the name of Sindri Suncatcher; a squire from the Knighthood named Catriona; a half-elf named Elidor; and a minotaur named Jax. After some entertaining meetings, the companions discover that hope may lie for Nearra at the Temple of the Holy Order of the Stars which is located north of Tresvka.

Their journey, however, is not one of peace. The companions must face gangs of goblins; an ogre named Ugo; an avalanche; and a Theiwar dwarf named Oddvar. To make matters worse, Nearra is captured and taken hostage. Now Davyn and the rest of the companions must journey to a city below the surface of the earth. The city's name is Underfell. The problem of rescuing Nearra becomes complicated when issues of trust begin to emerge.

Upon rescuing Nearra, the companions make their way to the Temple of the Holy Order of the Stars. But before reaching the Temple, the companions discover that one of their own has betrayed them! Who is it? As if that was not enough to deal with, Slean the Green Dragon shows up! Will the companions defeat Slean? Will Nearra's memories become restored? Will betrayal and distrust tear the companions apart? And what seemingly magical power is complicating Nearra's life?

These questions, and more, are just some of things that young readers can look forward to in Temple of the Dragonslayer. This novel is an adventure that will have young readers sitting on the edge of their seats from the very first page to the last.

What I liked about this book?

1) Tim Waggoner has created a compelling and intriguing storyline that will keep young readers guessing as to the book's final outcome. Not only is the story fast paced but it also contains a lots of suprises. This will surely add to the excitement of the adventure for young readers. In addition, young readers will be kept guessing as to the secrets behind each of the companions and will be debating with each other whether or not each companion can be trusted.

2) This book adds some interesting components to the existing world of Dragonlance, e.g., a discussion on the development and destruction of the city of Underfell; the introduction of a very unique prison called The Crypt of a Thousand Voices; an introduction to the Temple of the Holy Order of the Stars - a temple where clerics, priests, and priestesses from all Gods could come to worship and share their knowledge; and a historical account of a battle between the cleric Elethia and a red dragon named Kiernan the Crimson. These are just some of things that the reader can look forward to.

3) With the exception of Ugo the Ogre, the personifications of elf, dragon, goblin, wizard, kender, and so forth are believeable. With few exceptions, these personifications fit into the established lore of existing Dragonlance books. Critics fearing that this book will depart from what's been established as "truth" over the past many years in Dragonlance can stop worrying.

4) The War of the Lance is referenced eloquently in this book. In fact, readers familiar to Dragonlance will smile when Sindri comments that he met "Fizban" at the Inn of the Last Home. We all know who that is! By providing references to the War of the Lance, Tim Waggoner has effectively joined Temple of the Dragonslayer to the world of Dragonlance.

5) Tim Waggoner also has provided some easy explanations into the "workings" of Dragonlance, e.g., the Orders of Magic; descriptions of the Gods of Krynn; description of the Knighthood; and an explanation of the Cataclysm. While seasoned readers may find the explanations juvenille - to a young reader, these explanations are thorough enough.

6) I'm also happy with the size of print, the picture on the front cover, and the inclusion of a Table of Contents. While these items are not necessary for the telling of a good story, I give credits to Mirrorstone Books for putting a quality package together.

What I did not like about this book

1) The chractertization of Ugo the Ogre was not believable to me - he was too dumb. Aside from being big and powerful, there was nothing, in my opinion, that tied him to the Ogre race. I would encourage readers to look at the Icewall Trilogy and the Dhamon Saga for great examples of Ogres.

2) The back cover indicates that an angry minotaur is trying to stop Nearra and her companions from succeeding in restoring her memories. This is incorrect as the only minotaur in the story is actually a member of the companions, i.e., Jax is not trying to stop the companions - he is trying to help them.

3) There's some repetition throughout the book (e.g,. Nearra felt like crying or Jax can take care of himself). This is not really a criticism as it may have more to do with the fact that the book is geared to young readers - perhaps repetition for them is a good thing... but for an adult reader it might be distracting.

Comment for Teachers

Topics such as friendship, loyality, trust, tolerance, acceptance, and betrayal are all featured in this book. Understanding these concepts along with strengthening them are important to the development of our children. Adapting this book may be a good step in accomplishing this. The official website for Mirrorstone Books contains a large number of resources to help teachers adapt Temple of the Dragonslayer into their classrooms.

Conclusion

Temple of the Dragonslayer, which is the first book in the Spellbinder Quartet, marks the start of a brand new series of books. With it's fast moving story, interesting characters and mysterious plots, this book is highly recommended. Should older individuals stay away from reading this book? Absolutely not! All readers, young and old, will find something here to like.


Reviewer: Talinthas

Rating: Stars

Temple of the Dragonslayer, the first novel in the new Dragonlance young adult series The New Adventures, had many negatives stacked against it before I even saw the cover art. It was a book made for children, in the fourth age, by an unknown author, and the back cover insinuated that there would be a Kender Wizard somewhere in the text, an unforgivable canonical error.. Would he be able to capture the flavor of the setting, staying true to twenty years of source material, or would he remake it in his own image, as so many authors new to DL have done?

After finishing the novel, I'm pleased to say that Waggoner understands Dragonlance and D&D at a fundamental level. His characters are very solidly grounded in the setting, and perform actions that completely conform to the rules of the game. This isn't to say that the book reads like a game session, but that when a spell is cast or an action is described, people with familiarity with D&D will smile and appreciate the fidelity to the ruleset. And the Kender Wizard is so well explained and humorously handled that it would be detrimental to the story to change it.

The plot follows the story of Nearra, a young girl who wakes on a forest trail with no memory of who she is or how she got there. As the story unfolds, she is told to head towards an ancient temple where the newly returned clerics may be able to help her. The quest is motivated by Maddoc, a black robe wizard who has designs on Nearra, and needs her to enter an agitated state so as to cause the Emergence, a plot point so key to the novel that revealing more would be spoiling the book.

Along the way, Nearra picks up an interesting crew of characters, each with their own particular neurosis. Davyn, a young ranger who, along with Maddoc, finds Nearra at the beginning of the story, harbors a secret that eats at his conscience throughout the tale. Catriona, a runaway squire from the Knights of Solamnia worries about being the best knight she can be, much like Sturm, but with an edge of obsession. The minotaur Jax constantly worries about his personal honor, and so on. The characters are all lively and well defined, if rather one dimensionally. To a mature reader, they fit archetypes really well, but in the young reader market, this is what the genre calls for, so it is not a slight.

The story is very well paced and full of some fun and tense action sequences, and quite a few moments which caused me to laugh out loud. Sindri, the kender 'wizard', is quite possibly the best written true kender I've seen since Tasselhoff, and I must applaud Mr. Waggoner for capturing the essence without cloning Tas himself. Taking place shortly after the War of the Lance, Dragonslayer really captures the feel of a Fourth Age that has only recently realized that Gods exist and that Dragons are no mere fables. Nearra's amnesia, while trite, is the perfect vehicle for explaining the nature of the world for the new reader, such as why there are three moons, why good dragons are metal and bad dragons are chromatic and so forth. It has been a long time since I saw such an excellent introduction to the setting.

Negatives

This story is written for ten year olds. The writing is very simple, and oftentimes groan-worthy. Also, the action of the story takes place over a period of two or three days, leading to some very unrealistic closely bonded friendships. Much of the setups are very transparent, and the story is incredibly predictable. However, once these facts are acknowledged (Dragonlance normally is skewed for teens, and those of us who have passed that age have had to deal with that already, and these books are even younger), the story is a really fun light read. The last, and most jarring negative, is that the book costs US$5.99, which is one dollar shy of a normal Dragonlance novel, but almost 100 pages shorter.

Positives

Tim Waggoner knows DL. He really did his homework. The characters are all great iconic examples of their race, the classes are all very easily identified, and the word 'orc' is not mentioned a single time. The book is fast moving and never lets up in action, nor does it ever cause a reader to stop and wonder what just happened. This book fits in to continuity just fine, and doesn't contradict or rewrite any part of history. It is a fourth age novel that could have just as easily come out in 1985 as 2004. In an unprecedented note, this Dragonlance novel actually has TWO dragons in it! I was very skeptical of the book when I started it, and ended up really enjoying it a lot. I look forward to this group's continuing adventures.


Reviewer: Trampas Whiteman

Rating: Stars

Temple of the Dragonslayer is the first of the New Adventures series of Dragonlance young adult novels. I will say upfront that this novel is written for a young adult reading level. However, I think it will be quite enjoyable to adult readers as well.

Temple of the Dragonslayer not only serves as an introduction to a group of young heroes in the world of Krynn, it also serves as an introduction to Krynn as well. It does so masterfully through the eyes of the heroine, Nearra, who awakens in the middle of a forest to discover she has no memories. As Nearra learns of the world of Krynn, so too does the reader. The benefit to this is that young readers do not need to read Chronicles to enjoy this series.

Nearra is caught in the middle of a nefarious plot by a Black Robe mage named Maddoc, who has a secret purpose for Nearra. Coming to her aid, though, is a group of young and unlikely heroes who band together and travel with Nearra on her journey to the Temple of the Holy Orders of the Stars.

Her companions include a female squire who seeks to regain her honor, a ranger who holds terrible secrets, a conniving elf thief of mixed heritage, a kender wizard (well, sorta...), and a minotaur.

All of these characters were great, although two especially stood out to me. The minotaur, Jax, was wonderfully written. He is most definitely a minotaur, and it is good to see one who isn't a villain or a "Kaz clone".

I have to say, though, that the most entertaining character in the book is Sindri Suncatcher, a kender "wizard" who "conjures" many strange and wonderful items. To Tim Waggoner's credit, he depicts Sindri as a unique kender, and not a "Tas clone". No maps, thank the gods.

Overall, the book was fairly good with some good transitions and has a few surprises along the way. It doesn't quite have the depth of descriptiveness that other Dragonlance books have, but since it is geared towards young adults, it doesn't need that. It seeks to provide a good Dragonlance story for young adults, and it provides it.

That isn't to say that it isn't without its flaws. While a good amount of homework went into this novel, there were a couple of continuity issues. The primary one that I noticed was when Waggoner stated that Mishakal was Paladine's daughter. This only works if you're from Arkansas (kidding, just a joke), since Mishakal is Paladine's wife. A little more research into the vestments of the clerics of the gods would be in order. And, as well, the back of the book suggests that Jax is trying to stop the heroes, when he is one of them.

Despite the flaws, the story is a good story, and most importantly, it is a Dragonlance story. Kudos to Waggoner for capturing the Dragonlance feel.

I look forward to reading more in this series.


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