Of Pride and Dragons

dragonlance

I first read the Dragonlance books soon after I left high school and just as I was about to start sixth form college. I had known about them before that: a few of my friends at school were big fans and it was only my childish pride that made me read them later than they did.

You see, I was something of a “fantasy pioneer” among my school friends. In most cases, I was the first to discover and read fantasy series such as The Lord of the Rings, the Shannara books, and The Belgariad. However, the Dragonlance books were first noticed by my best friend at the time and so I pretended to regard them with indifference and set out to discover “better” series instead.

Once we left school and my best friend and I parted ways, I guess I felt that I could then read the Dragonlance books without losing face. And so I finally bought the first book in the Dragonlance series. It was Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Book 1 of the first trilogy, Dragonlance Chronicles. I loved it and it wasn’t long before I was buying the second (Dragons of Winter Night) and third book (Dragons of Spring Dawning).

The Dragonlance Chronicles are written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The books are based on a series of Dungeons & Dragons game modules, and they were written because the designers wanted novels to tell the story of the game world they were creating. Although I was not familiar with Dungeons & Dragons and never played the game, I thoroughly enjoyed the books. They follow the familiar formula of a band of heroes setting out on a quest to save the world: there was the heroic but reluctant leader, a warrior, a dwarf, a halfling, a mage, and a few other flawed but courageous human companions.

Yes, it was very Lord of the Rings-esque but the Dragonlance Chronicles were a fun journey with likeable characters.  I liked the fact that the Dragonlance books had many strong female characters (unlike The Lord of the Rings) and even the “Dark Lord” was a woman! I also liked the illustrations by Jeffrey Butler though I wasn’t too keen on the cover art of the British edition that I bought (I much preferred the covers of the US edition which my friends had).

Further trilogies followed the Chronicles, some also written by Weis and Hickman and some by other writers. For a few years, I religiously bought and read each new Dragonlance instalment but there came the time when I could not keep up – and when other fantasy series caught my attention and fought for my time and money!

The Chronicles are a complete trilogy in themselves, however, which can be read without further investment in the Dragonlance estate. If you love high fantasy and a good old fashioned quest, grab a set now and escape to the world of Dungeons & Dragons.

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