Where there is light, there is surely darkness, and in this story that has never been more true. Dragons grew mighty and terrorised the world of Krynn, dragons of evil, their cruelty known to all though a great knight of Solamnia, Huma called down the gods to forge the Dragon Lance that would be the weapon to destroy the darkest of living creatures.
Huma drove back the dragons with the aid of Paladine the Great god of good, banishing the Queen of Darkness, Takhisis and ending the Age of Dreams, to herald the Age of Might when the humans rebuilt their torn cities, but later the King Priest of Istar saw the threat of evil about to come.
After a time the gods never came to watch over the world, abandoning them to darkness and evil beginning the Age of Despair waiting for the gods of light to return. Until then, the people of Krynn were very much left to their own devices. Meanwhile, during all of this, Tika Waylan is struggling to keep the Inn of the Last Home looking as good as it was many years ago. The inn is struggling to stay looking good in many ways and she is nearly at the limit of how much disappointment she can take.
An old man enters speaking of a great reunion party. Tika thinks he is a crazy old man, as she has heard nothing of the sort. To make things more interesting, the party he speaks of are making for the inn and for one last get together - a reunion of sorts, and one considered long overdue. All become gathered around the table. Tanis announces the absence of Caramon and Raistlin's sister Kitiara from a letter telling them her new lord keeps her away from them and it cannot be helped. Tanis is disappointed along with the others, but there is something about her none of them know, and if they did it would change their perception of her. Raistlin has come back from the test in the Tower of High Sorcery – so Caramon says and is forever scarred by its impact on his body, constitution and their brotherly friendship, putting a strain on them and how the others view the mage. Now that his skin and eyes are golden as though he has been cast, his pupils have shrunken into twin hourglasses in form showing him that he sees time on others as fleeting. He has also acquired a new weapon, a ball of crystal in a dragon's claw atop a basic wooden staff.
Kits not arriving has broken the oath they all held with each other. Flint sees it as the greatest bad luck to them as she has been kept away from the group dynamic they shared as a team.
Sturm is still looking for his long lost father, though Kitiara is on Tanis's mind all the time, but he thinks he is beneath her and the others suspect this. On his trail Sturm and found two people, wanderers. A plainsman called Riverwind and a woman, Goldmoon who kept a blue crystal staff with her at all times. Riverwind seems to protect her dearly and he is distrustful of others who have gathered around her, and when the group see Goldmoon's evident beauty, they can understand why he feels this way.
The party have to protect the blue crystal staff with their lives as they come up against some cruel adversaries who work for the powers of darkness, one such man is Verminaard, his queen's most esteemed warrior who knows his place in her grand scheme.
Their reunion is marred by goblins, Theocrats guards who Caramon swiftly disposes of, making them are on the run with nowhere to go, nowhere around but woods and roads that could lead them into great danger.
Taking a boat by Crystalmir Lake to save time on the walking, but the goblins still launch their arrows at them in hot pursuit, gaining on them as they try to escape. As they try, Raistlin spots that the constellation of the Queen of Darkness and Valiant Warrior are gone from the heavens, leading him to believe the rumours of Paladine coming down to fight her on earth are true even if the others think he is seeing things.
The characters all have their respective places in the story as Dragon Lance is about diversity and the difference in cultures of human, mage, dwarf and half-elf. Tanis is a brooding, serious person, but who has a tender side he tries to keep in check as his emotions have become erratic, which is not the sort of quality becoming a leader. His weakness where women are concerned is noticed by the group including Raistlin who is the most interesting and contradictory character in the whole group.
Kitiara is a mysterious girl, and a still growing up sister to the twins but there is something not right about her as a person, and as she breaks up the group causing them a bit of bad luck she is seen in a different light much later on in the book.
Sturm is the stoic knight who does not trust Raistlin and feels sorry for Caramon having to tolerate him and his moods. His knightly status is looked upon very badly by others, but the group thinks very highly of him thinking he does not suffer fools gladly as a result of his training.
Caramon, Raistlin's brother who looks after him when the test in the tower went terribly wrong. He is a huge looking male standing six-feet tall, muscular and unlike his huge frame a really soft and gentle man underneath the bravado he shows to others, especially the women. His two weaknesses are his need to do everything he can for his brother and the fairer sex. One woman in particular, Tika Waylan is the one who he has set his heart on. Raistlin, the darker of the two twins, the weaker bodied, more sickly half who honed and developed his magical powers since childhood. His early life has been one of unhappiness, though that reality changes as he is a part of the group on their journey. Raistlin sees the group as ineffective at times and the reader would think he had no friendship with any of the characters, but Raistlin is a deceptive character as when the dialogue is read he actually has faith in Tanis, though he has none for himself.
Goldmoon and Riverwind are the two outsiders in this story, and while one is trusting and keeps the staff with her, her protector Riverwind the plainsman is not so inclined, seeing Caramon and Raistlin as an instant threat, yet Goldmoon views him as way too protective and clingy.
Tika Waylan runs the Inn of the Last Home, she is a cheery type of barmaid who is good humoured and bubbly and who instantly attracts Caramon with her sensual good looks and busty frame. The twins have known her since she was a girl when they were coming to the inn and Caramon is delighted to see how well she has grown up.
Tasslehoff Burrfoot, the thoroughly untrustworthy kender, pick-pocket and locksmith is more of an essential character in the DragonLance universe than anticipated as he is the comic relief none ever expected in the series. He has a less formal way of speaking to the others in the group and takes people as he finds them. He tends to act a fool around others, but he has a sound mind and can be useful to the members of Tanis's team to accomplish tasks they could not.
The story opens with a look at how difficult life for the people of Solace and Krynn really is. The lives of the residents of the Inn of the Last Home is hard as it can get, but they still do have many people coming in to share their stories over a flagon or two of ale. How hard the upkeep of the place is, how dragons have ravaged the land and of their living in constant fear of Goblins and their armies wondering the land, causing trouble for the humans who are not a part of the dark Queen's sychophants. Many of the characters like Sturm and Tanis have a hard time with the older, more dangerous characters - Raistlin is on hand though with his magic when the need arises just in the nick of time.
As Lord of the Rings had the noble characters who were written as larger than life itself by esteemed author JRR Tolkien himself, Weis and Hickman many years later wrote a similar fantasy epic that is just as readable through the series, the first of three separate novels of a more dungeons and dragons setting from the board games in the mid part of the eighties that continued to enthral and hold the readers attention of readers the world over.
The relationship with the characters were in conflict most of the time, though Raistlin and Caramon stuck together through the bad times all the way in the book for the obvious reason they were blood relatives, born total opposites of mind and body in every way with Raistlin always jealous of his twin's strength and force against foes. Some characters such as Laurana and Riverwind were just finding their feet with the original main characters. Tanis has his own demons to fight and conquer, his love for Kitiara soon to be fated in later books. Tasslehoff is in the middle observing all around him although he is considered the most loveable and stupid of the group, he does have his own intelligence, and also provides help when needed in later novels and is more valued than he thinks.
The characters were described in a lot of detail so the readers would easily be able to imagine how each character would look in their minds. Admittedly some characters would be described more so, but the readers were left in no doubt as to who the bad ones were.
Tanis's character changes as the story progressed and his love for Kitiara grew in importance to him, causing many problems and unrest among the other group.
The story was in depth and flowing as the relationships of the characters intertwined with each other and the problems they faced in turn.
The story will be enjoyed by younger readers and older ones alike as there are both younger and adult themes within the tale that are weaved extremely well in this first novel in the acclaimed series. It captures the mind and the feel of the period and setting in great detail.
The writers seemed to have a point to make that there was both good and evil in the world, murder, war, and rage that people had to deal with in the novel, themes that are existent in today's modern society.
Review by Sandra Scholes
7.7/10 from 1 reviews
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