Reviews of 'Dragons of the Dwarven Depths'
Reviews of 'Dragons of the Dwarven Depths'
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Dragons of the Dwarven Depths by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is the first novel in the Lost Chronicles trilogy. For fans of the Dragonlance universe, the Lost Chronicles represent time between the original Chronicles books. In this case, this book takes place between the events of Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Dragons of Winter Dawning. So, those readers who have read those two books will understand the story very well. Before I go further, if this book interests you at all, I think you should read the Dragonlance Chronicles before you read this book. Why? Well, for one those are the first stories involving these characters, but more importantly you will have a deeper understanding of some of the things that happen in this book.
The plot itself is typical Weis & Hickman. It's well laid out and concise with not a lot of extra stuff thrown in. I liken this book to putting on your favorite pair of old shoes. No matter when you last wore them, they still feel great when you put them on again. The story of the Hammer of Kharas has long been talked about in Dragonlance circles and finally it has come to fruition. As I was reading this I could tell that Weis and Hickman had long thought about this plot line as it was just so well done and fleshed out.
Now, I do have a bit of contention with the characters and this happened more than once. First, I need to say I am a huge fan of the Chronicles and the characters. I have read the Chronicles several times. Yet, when I was reading this book something felt 'off' to me. It took me about fifty pages to realize what it was. There are several instances during this book where the dialog of the characters in no way matches how they spoke in previous books. I am not talking about little 'oops' in dialog. I am talking whole sections that in no way fit what the characters have always sounded like and said. At times it was so glaring that it made me stop reading and I had to re-read the section to make sure I read it right. Now, some people may not think this is a big deal, but the traditional Dragonlance fan will understand exactly what I mean when they read this book.
Don't get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book, the dialog just really threw me off at times. If you are a new fan to the Dragonlance universe and want the most 'complete' experience. I may suggest reading the Dragonlance Chronicles book 1 first and then reading this book, followed by the Chronicles book 2. That would give you the complete story without having to 'go back' so to speak.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and am eagerly looking forward to the next one. Fans of fantasy should all read the Chronicles books. They are truly a great story and one that has endured the test of time over and over again. I, for one, am happy to revisit the characters that I grew up with.
***For those who have never read the Chronicles, some spoilers ahead.
Dragons of the Dwarven Depths is the return of the companions and of the writing duo of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman to the Dragonlance world. It has been long overdue and I have been anticipating their return for a long time. Not only that, but the story is one that we all knew something about, but never the whole thing. Finally, the true story of the refugees of Pax Tharkas.
The great thing about this book is that it picks up immediately, and I mean immediately where Dragons of Autumn Twilight left off. It's almost as if this was the next book in the series. If you really wanted to, there would be no problem to read Dragons of Autumn Twilight, move on to this novel, and then read Dragons of Winter Night. It would be strange, since the Chronicles and the Lost Chronicles are so differently written.
The first thing that hits you when you read this book is how different the writing styles are. We can't forget that the original Chronicles were written over 20 years ago! When I started reading this book, I thought that for the first two chapters, the writing was weird. It seemed to me that Weis and Hickman were having some difficulty getting used to the War of the Lance again. The words didn't flow. But then, things started rolling and the story kept getting better. It seemed and the authors felt comfortable again in the world that was theirs.
The companions were back. They didn't feel different. Sturm was the honourable knight, who put honour over all. Raistlin was the feeble mage, taking advantage of his brother. Caramon was the slow thinking, strong brother. Tanis was still in charge, always doubting the gods. The other beloved characters were back, and were exactly as we had left them.
The talent of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman was in full force in this novel. They had a challenge even before they started writing this novel.
They had to make this book interesting, very interesting, because everyone who read the Chronicles knows the ending to this story. This was one big mountain the climb.
They climbed it with ease. They wrote a story that was captivating, so much that there were times when you didn't know what was going to happen either to the plot or the characters. Not only that, but they were able to add characters and side plots. There were times when you didn't see how this book could come to the ending that everyone knew so well! My hat is off to the authors, who blew away expectations and impressed me once again.
So the return to the Dragonlance world is successful for the Duo of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. They have created a story with depth, thrilling suspense, and a surprise to most people. The story of the refugees has now been told, and in an impressive manner. Now we wait for Dragons of the Highlord Skies due out in July of 2007, too long of a wait if it is going to be as good as volume 1!
Warning: for those who have not read the original Chronicles trilogy, minor storyline spoilers follow.
It's been over 20 years since the Companions were first introduced to this world by the writing duo of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. In that time, the pair have gone on to become New York Times bestselling authors, and the Chronicles series has been reprinted many times over the years. It is against this backdrop that the newest addition to the extended Chronicles series, Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, makes its debut.
Dragons of the Dwarven Depths picks up the story where Dragons of Autumn Twilight left off and carries it to the opening paragraphs of Dragons of Winter Night. In between, the story of the Companions that was originally dropped from the novels but carried on through the classic gaming modules is finally told.
Weis & Hickman have the unenviable challenge of creating a prequel of sorts, where the vast majority of their readership already knows the ending and the major events of the tale. The authors do an admirable job of filling in the gaps with a compelling tale that is a fun and entertaining read.
The story of the companions picks up immediately after Dragons of Autumn Twilight ended—at Riverwind and Goldmoon's wedding reception. The refugees debate their next step: whether to stay in the valley where they have fled following their rescue from Pax Tharkas and risk discovery by the Red Dragonarmy, or to continue on to the south and place themselves at the mercy of the dwarves of Thorbardin. The decision is complicated by dissention within their own ranks. Naturally, the Companions step forward to determine whether it will be possible to discover the sealed kingdom of the mountain dwarves. Dragons of the Dwarven Depths follows one group to the ruined fortress of Skullcap and another to Thorbardin, where the companions ultimately succeed in recovering the Hammer of Kharas.
With the broad strokes of the plot out of the way, it is safe to say that Dragons of the Dwarven Depths is quite different that its predecessors. Notwithstanding the fact that Weis & Hickman have 20 years more writing experience under their belt, the tone of the novel is quite different from the original book. Dragons of the Dwarven Depths's style can be roughly split into two halves—the opening, where the refugees and companions are discussing the best course of action and the authors reacquaint old and new readers alike with the characters and the unique aspects of the Dragonlance world, and the ending, where the action is fast and furious with all of the story's threads coming together.
In short, it's entirely unlike Dragons of Autumn Twilight, where the action begins with the heroes going out through the kitchen.
Compared to Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of the Dwarven Depths begins ponderously. After all, how interesting can repeated council meetings with 800 refugees be? What Dragons of the Dwarven Depths has that Dragons of Autumn Twilight does not, however, is a much more significant exploration of the intrigues between the Companions themselves. Significantly more ink is spent in discussing the feelings of each character towards one another, with some foreshadowing of events that are to come—especially in the case of the unhealthy relationship between the twins. After having arguments with the men in their lives, the reader is privy to some "girl talk" between Tika and Laurana. This type of intrigue and political maneuvering amongst themselves and the various factions within the refugee camp comprise the vast majority of the first half of the novel.
Once the Companions set out on their respective quests, the internal conflict is nearly forgotten as world-altering events come to the fore of the story. In this respect, the action parallels more closely the storyline of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. With several storylines operating at once and moving forward rapidly, it's all the authors can do to keep the reader moving along with the events of the story. In one instance, it feels as though the storyline of the refugees was completely forgotten as more important events took place in the dwarven kingdom. The ending, while predictable, also felt rushed; the denouement almost felt like an afterthought following the climax of the novel. This is especially true and not a huge problem for most readers, since they already know what happens next.
In all, Dragons of the Dwarven Depths was a novel and should certainly be part of every Dragonlance fan's library. It offers a new and interesting perspective on the storyline by detailing the events that occurred between the end of Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the beginning of Dragons of Winter Night, and explores the Companions in significantly more depth that the reader sees in the original Chronicles. However, because of the additional experience and perspective that Weis and Hickman bring to the novel—in addition to knowing how the story ends—Dragons of the Dwarven Depths is different enough from the original Chronicles that it may disappoint some. That being said, especially given the difficult task set before them, Weis and Hickman acquit themselves well, with yet another book that I would definitely recommend every Dragonlance fan put in their collection.
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