Dragonlance Dragonlance: Dragons of Deceit Review

Dragonlance is back, and not just with the RPG adventure book Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (I expect a release date announcement on August 18). Dragonlance: Dragons of Deceit is a new novel by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman and the start of the Dragonlance Destinies trilogy.

Dragonlance is back, and not just with the RPG adventure book Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (I expect a release date announcement on August 18). Dragonlance: Dragons of Deceit is a new novel by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman and the start of the Dragonlance Destinies trilogy.

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Of course, Dragonlance has never really gone away. Even after Weis & Hickman left TSR and other authors were hired to write Krynn novels, the original duo have regularly returned to their fan-favorite series in addition to some novels written by Weis alone. Still, the last completely new novel by the pair was 2009's Dragons of the Hourglass Mage so it's been a long time.

If you're a Dragonlance fan, you'll be happy with DDoD. Weis & Hickman are still at the top of their game, and while this is a new story, familiar faces make an appearance with even more named. Prior knowledge of Dragonlance isn't necessary, but if you are a fan, you'll immediately recognize a lot of references.

Destina Rosethorn, daughter of a Solamnic knight, has been raised to follow The Measure, care for her hereditary lands, and maintain Castle Rosethorn as a line of defense against the forces of evil. Even when tragedy strikes her family, Destina continues as she was taught – until another loss strikes and upends everything she expected from life. Destina decides the solution is to go back in time, using the Device of Time Journeying, to save her father during the War of the Lance.

While I think Dragonlance fans (and I've always considered myself one) will enjoy or even love this book, that last sentence is part of the reason why I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I expected. I've been a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, and grew up on Star Trek time-space continuum shenanigans and Doctor Who, so time travel is not a deal breaker for me.

But...

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Even in a world where dragons and magic exist, I trip over Destina's leap in logic. Citizens of Krynn have experienced magic, lived through the return of the gods and clerics, and likely have seen dragons fly overhead, but time travel is beyond rare. People view Tasslehoff Burrfoot's stories of his time-travel adventures as Kender exaggerations. I understand Destina's desperation, but that's quite the leap. Maybe it's just that Destina sometimes comes across to me as more immature than I expect from the Destina depicted in the early chapters.

Or maybe my tastes have changed since I originally read Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Both books open with a location description, but DDoAT focuses on Tika and her thoughts while also describing The Inn of the Last Home, whereas DDoD begins with a several paragraphs description of Castle Rosethorn before Lord Gregory even appears. It wasn't exactly a grabber.

I'm used to Tasslehoff being flighty, but his refusal to accept the truth of a plot-point, even after it's been repeatedly explained just rubs me wrong. There's a difference between being trusting and denying evidence.

Worse, I didn't feel an emotional connection to the characters or Destina's dilemma. I enjoyed DDoD, was interested in the plot, and I'm curious about the rest of the trilogy, but I didn't feel any tension or emotion like I did while reading Drew Hayes' NPCs or Travis Baldree's Legends & Lattes. Yet when I compare DDoD to Weis & Hickman's earlier Dragonlance novels they all fit together, so the disconnect is mine.

Also, time travel trilogies can be tricky to accurately evaluate while incomplete. I might look back when it's over and love this book. I hope so.

The hardcover is nicely made with end-papers that show the map of Ansalon. If you prefer audiobooks, reader Kirsten Potter is very good. Whether voicing Destina, her parents, Tika, Caramon, Tas, Dalamar, or others, Potter changes her voice so you know exactly who is speaking before you get to the attribution. Most fiction audiobook readers try to do that, but don't accomplish it nearly as well as Potter does.

If you love Dragonlance, Dragons of Deceit will likely be an A or an A+ for you even though for me, it's currently a solid B to B+. Fan of epic fantasy but new to Dragonlance? It'll be somewhere between a B and an A+, depending upon your exact tastes. And despite my hesitation, I am interested in the next book, Dragons of Fate, and I think that's a truer sign of my Dragons of Deceit review than a letter grade.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels




I feel curiosity about if WotC may allow oficially and within the canon the idea of alternate timelines. Dragonlance is not the tabletop game, but also the fandom writting their own stories "set in a parallel world".

WotC could publish a reshot of "Chronomancer" as a minisetting in the same way of Stryxhaven, Theros, Radiant Citadel or Witchlight.
 


DragonBelow

Adventurer
I feel curiosity about if WotC may allow oficially and within the canon the idea of alternate timelines. Dragonlance is not the tabletop game, but also the fandom writting their own stories "set in a parallel world".

WotC could publish a reshot of "Chronomancer" as a minisetting in the same way of Stryxhaven, Theros, Radiant Citadel or Witchlight.
It's already been done, in the 3.5 dragonlance book: Legend of the Twins, was precisely about time travel and alternate histories, etc. Of course it can be revisited :)
 



Dire Bare

Legend
I had largely the same response as @brimmels. I enjoyed the book, I enjoyed the return to Krynn, and I enjoyed revisiting some old friends . . . but a few things about character and plot bugged me and took me out of the narrative. I agree with all of Beth's criticisms, and . . . .

Destina was easy to like in the first few chapters, during her backstory. But once she sets out on her quest, she becomes very unlikeable, to me. Luckily, several of the characters she meets would agree, and they are a delight! I enjoyed Sable the copper dragon, and Wolfstone the Daergar dwarf, and Tasslehoff!

While Destina certainly goes through some mental anguish and loss, during the course of the adventure she isn't faced with a lot of physical peril. She acquires the two macguffins she needs rather easily. At no point did I feel that Destina or her companions were in a great deal of peril, with the possible exception of a castle siege in her backstory. Not even then really.

Something I picked up on and found interesting, related to the new focus on race in fantasy (and D&D) . . . W&H have several moments when characters go out of their way to point out that the racial stereotypes we've come to know in Dragonlance are just that, stereotypes. Wolfstone the Daergar goes off on Destina when she complains about the Theiwar being "evil" and asks her to consider that as not all Solamnics are good and just, not all Theiwar are evil. He also goes into the problems Theiwar society faces (extreme poverty and discrimination). When Tasslehoff meets a human polymorphed into a kender, he immediately picks up on their mannerisms being off, and just assumes they are a kender raised by humans! Meaning, the kender traits we've all grown to love (or hate) are culturally based. It's a bit on the nose, but it does contrast with most characters sticking to the old stereotypes when talking about other races, mostly the kender. This new revelation is weakened by all of the kender in the book (except for the polymorphed human) acting true to the classic stereotype.

I agree with Beth that if you are a Dragonlance fan, you'll likely enjoy this book even with its faults. However, I'll disagree with her that folks will enjoy it if they aren't Dragonlance fans! If you haven't read the original Dragonlance Chronicles, the time-travel elements and the meeting of classic characters will likely not grab you, and may leave you confused. The book is set concurrent with the War of the Lance (roughly, until time-travel) and references Chronicles heavily, and Legends also.
 

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