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Reviews of 'Dragons of Time'

Dragons of Time

by Kevin T. Stein, Margaret Weis, Jake Bell, Lizz Weis, Lucien Soulban, Mary Herbert, Cam Banks, Miranda Horner, Rachel Gobar, Paul B. Thompson, Richard A. Knaak, Tracy Hickman, Jean Rabe, Douglas W. Clark
Dragon Anthologies, Volume 4

Reviews of 'Dragons of Time'

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Reviewer: BeezerMN

Rating: Stars

Dragons of Time is the latest anthology released by Wizards of the Coast. All of the stories are edited by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, two of the biggest names in the Dragonlance setting. All of the stories in this book are set in the Dragonlance realm and, as per the name, they all involve dragons.

Instead of reviewing each story individually, which would take entirely too long. I will say a few words about each story and give my general impressions of it, and hope that will suffice.

#1 – 'Homecoming' by Liz Weis – I am still baffled as to why this anthology started off with this story. I know Margaret Weis is a prolific author, but Liz Weis needs to hone her craft more before having stories released in anthologies like this. For starters, this story has a first person perspective, which to my knowledge WotC doesn't allow, yet for this author they make an exception. This story has very little in terms of substance, the plot is flat from the start and the characters are uninteresting. Ms. Weis makes an attempt at a twist, however, it is so blatant that the reader sees it coming and results in little, to no, interest at all. I expected much more out of the first story of this book. I am deeply disappointed in this story. 1 out of 5.

#2 – 'Chain of Fools' by Cam Banks – In comparison to the first story, this is a masterpiece. In comparison to the other short stories I have read, this one is average. The plot is decent; the characters (especially Hullek) are fairly interesting. However, I had a hard time connecting with the characters in such a way as to make the story more interesting. The best way I can describe it, is I felt like this story was a commercial to something better. It was there, it was mildly interesting, but it wasn't anything special. Maybe, with a full length novel Mr. Banks can provide a richer story and characterization. I'd be willing to give his book a try. 3 out of 5.

#3 – 'Jaws of Defeat' by Paul Thompson – This story focuses on two dragons in a very contained plot. The basic plot is that of a young red dragon acting like one would imagine a young red dragon would act. Gruff and wanting to prove himself. Mr. Thompson does a good job at trying to give voice to two separate dragons. The twist at the end is well done and adds some meaning to the story. Overall, nothing earth shattering here, but a decent story all together. 3 out of 5.

#4 – 'Unforgotten' by Jean Rabe – This story reads like a DnD mini-adventure. Ms. Rabe attempts a plot twist that fails miserably for two reasons. The title of this anthology, and number two it is simply quite obvious what the twist will be. This is another story in this anthology that I found uninspiring from the very start. The plot, and characters, simply made no sense. I have always enjoyed Ms. Rabe's writing, however; this short story was very disappointing. 2 out of 5.

#5 – 'I Read it in the Flying Dragon' by Douglas W. Clark – Let me preface this by saying, I really liked Mr. Clark's first Dragonlance novel titled Saving Solace. However, this short story was about as far from that novel as you can get. The premise of the story starts off rather interesting. However, none of the characters grabbed me enough to keep my interest. The plot quickly turned stale. By the end of the story, cold really care less about any thing it. It was, for lack of a better word, blah. 2 out of 5.

#6 – 'Aurora's Heart' by Rachel Gobar – Saddly, this is another sub-par story in this anthology. It starts off promising, however, the author evidently thinks the reader will forget the main character's name, Aurora, and proceeds to have her name in almost ever paragraph. This gets very tiring after the tenth time. The character's back-story was more interesting than the actual story. If one could say, been there done that, I have read this story countless times before. There is absolutely nothing new here. 1 out of 5.

#7 – 'The Dragon's Claw' by Jake Bell – This is what a short story should be. Fast paced plot, interesting characters, and most importantly, the author didn't try to do too much. The pacing and prose held my interest throughout, and the twist at the end was a little unexpected and well written. This is one of the few stories in this anthology that I actually enjoyed. 4 out of 5.

#8 – 'Bloodrage' by Kevin T. Stein – This story is a little hard to rate. There are parts of it that are fairly good, yet there are other parts that made me wonder if an editor really looked at it or not. There are numerous times in this story that the plot seems 'jump' ahead with no explanation of how it got there. The two main characters are rather interesting, Fury and Scout, yet I felt disconnected from them most of the time. While there are spots that are good, the majority of this story failed to hold my interest. 2 out of 5.

#9 – 'The Vow' by Richard A. Knaak – This is a solid story. The plot is a little unsual, but it works very well for the story and the kind of Author Mr. Knaak is. Fans of Dragonlance books, will surely expect a Minotaur to be involved in this short story, and they will not be disappointed. The characters in this book are well thought out and it's evident Mr. Knaak put some time and effort into completing a complete picture. For me, this was one of the more enjoyable stories in this anthology. 4 out of 5.

#10 – 'Song of the Mother' by Lucien Soulban – This story is a rather unconventional story. For one it takes place under water and has unique characters in it, meaning not the typical human, dwarf, kinder etc. However, it works fairly well for the story. The plot is very good, in fact it hints at some larger consequences of events that have transpired across Krynn. I am guessing these events will be discussed in more detail in a novel or two down the road. The characters for me were just alright. I didn't feel any real connection with them. However, the plot really makes up for average characters here. Not the best short story, but pretty good. 3 out of 5.

#11 – 'The Eight' by Mary H. Herbert – Ms. Herbert brings us another story involving Linsha. I was pleasantly surprised to see her name pop up in this story. For fans of the Linsha trilogy there are several names/places that will be familiar to you. The plot is pretty good, although, at times it seems to jump around a little bit. It was almost like section breaks were missing (possible editing error?). The characters I Really enjoyed, especially Eight. If not for the jumping around of the plot, I would have given this story a 5 out of 5, but never-the-less, this is my favorite story in this anthology. 4 out of 5.

#12 – 'No Strings Attached' by Miranda Horner and Margaret Weis – I am almost completely at a loss of what to say about this story. I didn't like it at all. In fact, I am really not sure what the purpose of this story was. It was disjointed throughout, had very little plot, and there was no character build-up at all. The only mention of a dragon, was a drink at the bar. Utterly pointless story. I am very disappointed in Ms. Weis for putting something like this in a book. 1 out of 5.

I am rather disappointed with this anthology. There are maybe 3 stories that are worth reading, out of 12 total - that is not a good ratio. I am not sure Wizards of the Coast's motivation for putting this anthology together but only one story furthers the Dragonlance world at all. If a reader is looking for an anthology about Dragons there are many I would recommend before this one. In the Forgotten Realms there are the two Realms of the Dragon anthologies. Realms of the Dragons I and Realms of the Dragon II. There is also a book with 4 novellas called Dragons: World Afire that is not bad either. All three of those will offer more enjoyment than this one. This is one of the few WotC books I have finished ad felt cheated by.

Reviewer: Rone

Rating: Stars

An exciting thing has happened in the world of Dragonlance books. For the first time since the start of the series, there are a large number of authors who are putting out well written Dragonlance books month after month. These authors have come together (along with a few rookies) to release what may be the best collection of short stories so far.

Long time authors Richard A. Knaak, Jean Rabe, Paul Thompson, Mary H. Herbert, and, of course, Margaret Weis (w/ Miranda Horner) all contribute wonderful pieces to this collection. These authors provide the great stories we have come to expect from them after years of reading Dragonlance. Dragons are locked in mortal combat with each other. A minotaur struggles against the ogres who pursue him. Dwarves seek an ancient treasure. A drunk, licentious Black robe faces off with... a barmaid! And Herbert provides us with yet another story of Linsha, although, actually, the story is more about Iyesta's 8 children.

Douglas W. Clark and Lucien Soulban, who have both contributed enjoyable novels to the Champions Series, provide two enjoyable tales in this collection. Clark provides us with a glimpse of Krynn's first newspaper (and its first tabloid column). Brysis returns in Soulban's piece. Both authors provide the reader with great stories that have interesting characters and a sense of mystery to the story. These are two characteristics that have made the works of the classic authors of Dragonlance as enjoyable to read as they are. Hopefully both of them will continue to produce novels and short stories for the Dragonlance setting. The rest of the contributions to the collection, the ones from the rookies, are a mixed bag of delight and mediocrity.

The real surprise in this collection comes from Cam Banks. His story is fun, hilarious, exciting, and well written. I can't imagine someone reading this wonderful little story, "Chain of Fools," without smiling through the whole thing. It is an imaginative addition to the collection that leaves the reader looking forward to his upcoming novel.

Lizz Weis, daughter of MW, provides a tale that is entertaining and with an unexpected ending. Just when you have decided that you are reading a cliché story, she slaps you in the face and sends you reeling to the ground.

Kevin Stein has written another of those wolf-man stories. I am sure there are a large number of people out there who have loved these stories. I'm just not one of them. If you have enjoyed these tales before, I imagine you will still enjoy this one. He does get credit for real cool villains in this piece and the coolest draconian ever.

The weakest contributions come from Rachel Gobar and Jake Bell. Their stories are less interesting than the other works in the collection. Weaker characters and predictable story lines make these works tedious. I felt sorry for Gobar's main character. She obviously suffered a great deal at the hands of her father, but she was also annoying, and I knew the child was a dragon as soon as he saw Aurora. Bell's story is entertaining enough but it seems very formulaic. Character receives item from evil god. Item gives character great power. Shock, item from evil god is actually bad for the main character.

In spite of these two weaker stories, this book is a fine contribution to anyone's Dragonlance collection. These stories leave the reader gasping in delight, in horror, and in wonder.

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