The world of Krynn has been a part of the fantasy genre in both roll playing and fiction for almost four decades. The first in the series Dragons of Autumn Twilight first appeared on shelves in 1984, and the world it brought forth has grown in ways no one could have envisioned.
I first discovered this book when there were only two in the series that now has more books than I would have ever envisioned (there is a list of them on my blog if you poke around).
This opening volume starts in the Inn of the Last Home, a very important place in this world, with a seemingly simple barmaid cleaning up. But the tension in this world leaps off the page from these very first paragraphs, and we are instantly sucked in knowing that something more is going on than just wiping down tables.
The authors of this book are amazingly efficient at their character introduction. It gives the reader enough to understand a character’s motivation without beating us over the head with background story. The backstory gets filled in along the way as it fits the story, and with the talent of this duo is done in a way that just flows seamlessly into the building the tension of the moment as it happens.
We find our story starting with a reunion of sorts. A group of companions decided to split apart for a few years to see if they could determine if the rumors from different parts of the world were true about rumblings of war, and various changes taking place in different corners of this world.
Even after this five-year absence it is apparent that it is obvious the companions are very comfortable with one another and have a long history we don’t know yet but will be revealed over time.
The characters do not fall flat on the page, they come complete with phobias, wants, needs, desires, obsessions, even ambitions.
The authors even give us excellent foreshadowing after a quick need to run they notice that some constellations are missing from the sky, constellations missing Gods of different beliefs or alignments, neutral, evil and good.
The other thing that leaps out at me is that some authors get bogged down in shocking levels of detail *cough* George RR Martin when he takes 4 pages to describe a fish dinner *cough* but give you enough to envision the world.
The story is complete with troublemakers in the form of a fun loving, fearless Kender, a very serious knight, elves, half elves, humans, dwarves, you name it we have it.
The emotion of the situation throughout the book just jumps off the page. You can feel the characters heart racing as they go into battle, and your heart races as well.
Although every character is special there are two that stand out in my opinion, that deserve discussion.
The first is Raistlin, the mage. You can see from these earliest pages he is going to play a key role. He is thirsty for power, he is loyal (or is he?), he knows how to get ahead in his mission of becoming a more powerful mage and will not let anything stand in his way.
There is Tasslehoff, the fearless Kender, who mysteriously finds other people’s property in his pack all the time, unsure of how it really got there. Although he does just come along on adventures to satisfy his curiosity and need for fun I believe he really is the brains of the operation.
Basically, whatever you are looking for in a fantasy novel, this thing has it, and promises us that the series that follows will as well. It has young love, old love, characters that evolve and turn from barmaids into something much much more. Yes, it is an adventure story, but it is equal parts action and character driven which is key to keeping my attention.
It even remembers to bring the funny from time to time. Not everything goes perfectly according to plan, but in the end, the characters grow and turn into something greater.
This opening to the new world of Krynn does not disappoint. I read it every few years and it never fails to deliver.