DragonLance – Preludes II Volume One – Riverwind the Plainsman

This book is one of the better ones I have come across so far in this series. During the original trilogy Riverwind wasn’t really a super main character I mean he was there but he played kind of a supporting role. But we were left with a lot of questions.

If you are curious this is the picture of all the books we (my two sons and I) have read so far:

This book clears those up.

We kind of knew that ceremony and tradition were important to the Plainsmen? But how important?

What were the politics that really led to his quest that he was so driven to achieve?

How good of a hunter/survivor is he really.

All of that gets answered.

We also learn more about the Draconians, a race of elves we didn’t (at least I) didn’t know about. Something called the Nightrunners. Kind of these wolves led by a half man/half wolf creature by the name of Kyanor.

There is a strange guy I still have questions about called Catchflea. Still not really sure about his obsession (humorous though it is) with these three acorns.

We also aren’t really sure what of Riverwind’s memories from his quest were part of reality and what were part of an illusion that was cast upon him.

I know it sounds like the book left us with a lot of questions, and it did, but it also cleared up a lot of things.

If I had to rate it on the “should you” read it list. If you like DragonLance and fantasy reading 7 out of 10 must read. If you are deep in DragonLance 10 for 10. Well worth the time and was an actual page turner for me. (Some of the ones in the series really weren’t but this one delivers).


DragonLance Preludes Volume 3 – Brothers Majere

This book chronicles some of the time Caramon and Raistlin spent traveling as mercenaries after Raistlin took the tests at the Tower of High Sorcery and before the War of the Lance.

This is now the 15th book I have read in a row, and honestly I was a little let down. I wanted it to dive deeper into the brothers and what drives them. Maybe my expectations were too high, and I will admit to that.

It is set a few months after those famed tests that turned the skin of Raistlin’s skin and changed his eyes to see things only as they die. He is still getting used to his body being shattered and is haunted by dreams of a certain dark elf from those tests.

The brothers are traveling with a Kender which is always good for comic relief (not Tasslehoff).

The trio come upon a town that is having a problem. There are signs up asking for someone to come in and fix it. They quickly discover all the towns cats are missing, Caramon finds it funny and doesn’t care, Raistlin wants to dig into it.

Apparently there is a prophecy involve a gate and the weird missing cats.

The cats are missing because of a gate, a gate that leads to something that could let someone through into this world.

I don’t want to throw any spoilers out because I found this book more predictable than any DragonLance books before.

The Kender of course being a Kender gets into trouble, but also kind of solves the whole problem because of his natural curiosity. The entire book spends a lot of time foreshadowing things we know, which as a reader I guess is ok if you haven’t read the other DragonLance books, but if you have about 1/3 of the book was repetitious.

The one thing I did find interesting, it did start to hint at Raistlin’s thirst for power. Part of me was hoping we would learn more about what drove that, but perhaps in other books later in the series.

This book won’t stop me from reading other DragonLance books on my quest to get through all of them, and yeah I enjoyed it, but I really wanted more from it.

DragonLance Heroes Vol 3: Weasel’s Luck

The third installment in the Heroes series of DragonLance books is called Weasel’s Luck. It is set in a time around 100 years before the Chronicles Trilogy and tells the story of Sir Bayard Brightblade.

I found this book interesting because it really dives a bit deeper into the Knights of Solamnia than we have gotten in any of the other books. It also tells a story in a time before Draconians and Raistlin, and the companions.

Like the other books in the Heroes series we got to see how things were before the war of the lance. How did we get there? Before Draconians, before Raistlin, before the giant war.

I love that it filled in some of the details we didn’t have on the Knights. It really was a great story, great fantasy novel and helped me understand more of the lore of the Knights of Solamnia and the Brightblades.

Solid read, not the best of the DragonLance books, but it did keep me and my two teenage sons turning pages.


The Last World War, Volume One – Chapter One

Chapter One

The Pelindaba Nuclear Research Facility, South Africa

Captain Frank Banner looked around the airplane as they prepared to parachute into a hot landing zone. This was his Special Operations Team, hisfirst command, and as such, it was a team he was very proud of leading.

He couldn’t believe just how calm the men remained. He was their leader, yet he was drawing strength from them. Here they were, about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, parachute into a foreign country, probably get shot at, and all of that at any minute. It amazed him more and more with every mission just how calm these guys could remain in these pre-insertion moments.

He couldn’t help but notice that this plane was a little older than their usual transportation. It didn’t matter. While sitting in the back all they needed was a large empty place to wait. This one came with fold down seats along the sides of the aircraft, which was a real plus, so it served their purposes just fine. It was not a plane designed for comfort, but for utility.

They were given this assignment because they were the most geographically logical choice to a totally unexpected hot spot that had the necessary skills, and the ability to respond rapidly. That alert had come in from Africa Command, or AFRICOM, a mere ninety minutes ago. The only instruction given to the team at the time was to board the plane with full combat gear and be ready to jump. Once in flight, they would receive an additional briefing. Being good soldiers, they followed those orders to the letter as rapidly as possible.

That briefing had been shockingly brief. The voice on the radio had said that there were at least ten armed men inside the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Facility in South Africa.

The reactor facility, or so the person conducting the briefing had said, was like almost every other nuclear power facility on the planet. What that mattered to the current situation, Frank did not understand, but the voice felt compelled to throw that factoid into the discussion.

Essentially, the facility had a nested series of defenses that were supposed to prevent this sort of thing from being possible. It also had several different shielding structures that would prevent radiation leaks in case of accident. Those radiation shields would also stop non-armor piercing rounds. That was a double-edged sword for this mission. The team could protect themselves behind those structures, but currently there was an enemy already using them as a protective barrier.

Captain Banner couldn’t help but ask the briefer if they could just surround the facility and wait them out, assuming they could enlist the aid of some of the local friendlies. Apparently, doing so would give the bad guys time to disable the safety equipment and induce a radiation leak that would kill everyone for miles. The only advantage that seemed to be playing in their favor was that there was obviously something inside the facility that the perpetrators of this madness wanted to get away from there with while it was still intact. Otherwise, they would have already blown the place up. The latest intelligence claimed they had already gotten far enough into the facility to gain access to radiological materials, and it was being assumed that was their motivation for the hostile activity.

It other words, for the enemy to accomplish their likely mission, they had to come out at some point. That was one bit of good news. Of course, it was assumed the team could get on the ground and in position the invaders could make their way out with a treasure trove of nuclear or radiological bomb-making materials. Something told Frank it would be spectacularly bad news if they couldn’t get down there soon.

Frank couldn’t get the question Sergeant Fisher had asked during the briefing out of his head, “Why did any of this matter to the United States, or are we on this as a ‘held a friend’ mission?” It was not normally the type of question a soldier would ask, but if was not without purpose. It was intended to see if this was a serious military response, or just a perfunctory, “go try, but don’t get hurt, or blow too much stuff up.”

This one turned out to be far more important that just a political response.

As they were informed, way back in 2007 four armed men had entered that same facility and made, what was thought to be at the time, a poor attempt at making off with some nuclear material which they wanted to use to build a nuclear bomb. This research facility had some sort of experimental refining capability to make the high purity materials needed to fabricate some very dangerous devices. It was now the consensus of the intelligence agencies in the loop on the current situation that the incident had been a test run in preparation for a real operation. If those materials, or worse, the plans for the refining capabilities ended up on the loose, and in the hands of the wrong people, it could be tragic. They had to stop this for the sake of every nation on the planet.

The people conducting the briefing had referred to this group of approximately ten armed men as “alleged terrorists.” Frank always rolled his eyes at that phrase. He never cared about guilt or innocence in the court of law sense. His job was easier than that. Once bullets start to fly it was much easier to see who a bad guy was, and who was an “alleged” bad guy. These particular “alleged” terrorists were already firing at the local security team, and as a result had graduated to actual terrorists in the mind of everyone on the airplane.

These bad guys were especially bad, as well as dangerous ones. They likely wanted to build a nuclear weapon in the worst way, and they seemed to be happy with just one. A nation that wanted hundreds of these weapons, in Frank’s opinion, wanted them as a deterrent to prevent an attack against their populace. A group that wants just one, that group has a specific target in mind.

They had to be dealt with before they could escape the facility and disappear from plain sight.

Frank suddenly realized just how rough the plane ride was becoming. No one on his team would ever complain. Special Operations Units dealt with all manner of harsh conditions while doing their jobs. Frank knew, as did everyone on the team that this could be the most important mission of their career. In one way, a real global balance of power could shift based on the results of what was happening on the ground at that very moment; if they were only allowed to get on the damn ground and get to work, it might just shift the balance in favor of the good guys. So, far, they just kept circling – like a giant aerial circle jerk.

If a terrorist group, or terrorist state – getting harder to tell those two apart – obtained those types of weapons or even the material to make them, a large number of civilians would die. If they did not die as a direct result of the bombing, then it would be due to the ensuing panic. Captain Banner could not quite understand why there was any kind of hesitation in letting them go in and try to prevent that from happening; yet the pilot just continued to circle, with no signal for them to get into position to jump.

Somewhere up the chain of command, someone had to be vacillating.

Frank’s headset crackled to life, “Captain Banner, Warrant Officer Choi. We have been on station for thirty minutes, have you received any word on when we will get the order to go?”

“Chief, you know as much as I do,” Frank replied. The Warrant Officer was getting anxious.

“Roger that, Sir,” came the terse reply.

Frank knew these men were all as professional as they came. For any of them to even ask the question spoke volumes about the pressure being felt by all.

He pushed the button on the intercom, “Major Wilkins, this is Captain Banner, any word from AFRICOM regarding insertion?”

“We have been told to circle and wait for orders from higher authority. We do have a SITREP. From what little radio chatter we can manage to pick up from the ground we can tell they seem to say there is an unknown sized force putting up a fight larger than what we had been told to expect. Apparently, it is also getting difficult to tell who is who down there. Additionally, whomever is in there on the friendly team seems to know what assets we have in the area because they are asking for immediate air support as well as troops. We have passed that word up the chain of command, and been told that it is all under consideration,” came the reply from the pilot.

Frank wondered for a moment what exactly “under consideration” meant, but decided he would only get pissed if he found out.

“Roger that, Major. How high up does this go?” he inquired.

The airplane violently shook with turbulence. Frank barely noticed anymore. At that moment, his mental focus was one hundred percent elsewhere.

There were men on the ground under fire, and his team could help. The men under his command would all want to provide that help, no matter what the personal risk. It seemed like the decision makers were either incapable of taking a risk, or perhaps even worse, incapable of making a decision.

There was a stockpile of material at risk that could cause the death of untold numbers of men, women, and children at some as yet unknown spot on the globe. The fear of this type of terrorist attack has been around for years, and it was their understanding that there were many groups out there that if in possession of one of those devices would target the United States Homeland.

Frank could not comprehend why there was any sort of delay in them getting into the fight. This theft had to be stopped. The world was already a dangerous place. It would get a great deal more dangerous if this ended badly.

“Captain, I think this one is coming straight from the White House,” answered the pilot.

Excellent, a politician is micromanaging the endeavor. To make it worse, a politician who was having multiple political problems, and was known to allow politics to drive all of his decision-making. Wonderful, just wonderful! Frank wanted to know how long until the focus group decided if the jump would be popular or not. That was assuming the night’s activity ever became public knowledge. He supposed if they were successful, there would be a press conference. If not, it might leak, and that was the problem.

“Assuming they let us in there, how hot of a landing will we have?” Frank asked.

“Our equipment can’t get very precise visuals, but even from this altitude, we can see distinct explosive flashes. Someone has been using RPGs, but which side is using them, we can’t be sure. Those ten alleged terrorists appear to be bunkered down pretty well, or there are more than ten of them. We do now know if the nuclear material has been compromised, but they appear to be equipped with enough firepower to either hold their positions a very long time while they acquire it or shoot their way out when they do obtain possession. That is assuming the situation on the ground doesn’t change,” the pilot reported.

“Thank you, Major,” Frank answered.

The flight continued in relative silence for another twenty-five minutes. The plane would shake, the plane would rattle, but it continued to circle. There was nothing to worry about from an equipment standpoint. The entire team had their gear strapped on tight since before takeoff. Everyone ready to go, no matter how rough the ride, no matter how long they’d had to remain in the air, or how hot the landing, the team would follow Captain Banner out the door.

The young Captain couldn’t take it anymore. He unplugged his headset from the intercom system and made his way forward to the cockpit. Once there he heard the pilot arguing with whomever was on the other end of the radio to let the team go in. He heard the Major say that there had been no anti-aircraft fire, and they could get the team on the ground without risk to the aircraft or crew.

Finally, the pilot noticed Frank, “Well, Captain, it looks like someone back in the land of the free believes we should be living a riskless life. Apparently, you Green Berets are no longer allowed to get so much as a skinned knee.”

“I know you said the White House, but seriously, who is calling the shots? What kind of desk riding asshole are we dealing with?” Frank asked.

“Sir, as I have come to understand it, this one is coming straight from either the President, or someone in the room with him,” answered the Major calmly.

“Well shit, let me revise my previous statement. I am sure that the President knows some vital piece of intelligence we don’t. Let’s follow orders gentlemen,” the men in the cockpit kept their bearing, but all understood what he meant. There were just as tired of the endless political crap as all soldiers had become. Theirs was supposed to be a life spent defending something. But, right now, someone was down there, attempting to do harm onto others, and even though they were in position to lend aid, someone was preventing them from taking action.

Without warning the radio came to life, the Major put a finger to his ear and turned to look at the cockpit visitor, “Looks like you and your men are finally going to jump. Three minutes, you better get in position.”

Frank made his way to the back of the banking aircraft, “All right gentlemen. Get up! We have work to do.”

The men stood, their combat gear still strapped to them, and made their way to the back of the aircraft. They stacked up in the right order, and silently waited for the door to open.

They waited, ten seconds, then twenty seconds passed, and finally, the door opened. They needed no prompting, no speeches. They poured out of the plane with Frank in the lead. Everyone had their tactical radios on and operating from the moment the order was given to stand.

Frank was glad he had one of the new helmet visors equipped with a miniature heads-up display like what fighter pilots used when in the cockpit of one of the multi-million-dollar fire breathing beasts. It showed him the exact glidepath to take during a ump and gave some navigational assistance once on the ground. If enough situational awareness was known thanks to satellite and drone networks, it would even superimpose the known enemy locations and make their job much easier.

He watched the altimeter numbers rapidly decrease. Four thousand feet. Three thousand feet. Pull the cord.

Frank felt his entire body jerk as the main chute opened. The descent was still rapid, but not nearly as impactful as it would have been without it. With the new parachutes, and the nav system this team would hit the bullseye of the landing zone every single time.

The landing point for this mission was a short half-mile away from the firefight. Frank could already hear and see that someone down there was shooting at someone else with large caliber weaponry. Soon they would be in a better position to tell who was on which side and get a better idea what kind of weaponry they were up against. At this distance it was impossible to tell much for certain.

Two minutes after Frank touched down the entire team was on the ground, silent as ghosts. The men assembled on Frank’s position.

“I will take point with Sergeant Fisher. We move in at best possible speed, find the internal security force that should know we are on the way by now, if they are still alive. Do not hesitate, if you see a tango, eliminate that tango at the best possible speed. If they have managed to obtain the Special Nuclear Material, it will be in heavily shielded containers. Remember, hand grenades and rifle rounds from our gear will not be able to penetrate those containers. From this point forward, unless necessary, we will keep radio silence,” he instructed the team.

About a year before there had been an intelligence leak that ended up on the internet showing anyone who wanted to know how to triangulate the US Military’s position with some simple electronic equipment lashed together in the right order. What they said would still be scrambled but given away their position was not on Frank’s to do list.

As they approached the nuclear facility, they finally got a better look at the firefight in progress. It was impossible to tell who was exactly where at this point. Neither group appeared to have taken notice of them on their descent or approach. Frank quickly hoped the security team would realize they were here to help, and not open fire on the team.

The facility was a nested series of buildings, each one increasingly harder to destroy than the last. However, the outer layer of defense was a simple chain link fence with a single strand of barbed wire at the top. That was the only bit of good news that could be seen.

From here on in, it was thick reinforced concrete walls and solid steel containment buildings, depending on where in the facility the bad guys were located.

They set about to locate and secure whatever remained of the security office. It should have cameras monitoring every single room in the facility. From there it was possible that they could get lucky and see what parts of the facility were under the control of the tangos. Perhaps Captain Banner and his team could also determine if they were still on their way in, or if they were now on their way out of the area.

When Frank made it to the main building entrance, he started to see the telltale signs of what had been an intense firefight. From the amount of damage and spent rifle rounds on the ground there were either more than ten guys inside, or those ten were a hell of a lot better armed than the “intelligence” briefing had indicated. Frank decided they should slightly slow their pace and exercise just a bit of caution.

Everyone stacked up with their backs to the reinforced concrete retaining walls that surrounded the main reactor building. Frank inched closer to the entrance and quickly took a look around the corner before pulling back behind the wall.

There were no tangos to be seen. Frank used hand signals to inform the team about the lack of danger from humans at the corner. Booby traps were always a concern. Knowing it’s better to stay stealthy as long as possible they slipped silently around the corner, vigilantly scanning for booby traps, and into the compound sticking to the shadows whenever possible.

The door to the security building was thirty feet past this entrance. The closed the distance in seconds, silently, not knowing what to expect inside.

Once inside they found the security and surveillance room was right where they were told it would be. Unfortunatley, there had been a large explosive detonated in the room, and nothing remained that would be useful in gaining any kind of situational awareness.

“Shit,” Frank cursed. This whole thing was starting to go sideways. These intruders were covering their own ass. That meant they were not just off the street thugs with an idea and some gear, they were an enemy to be taken seriously.

An unexpected explosion rattled the building followed by a larger burst of automatic weapons fire than they had been hearing, coming from the adjacent building. It sounded like it was coming from the location the nuclear material could be accessed from its long-term storage.

As they made their way toward the firefight, they could see what remained of the security team was pinned down behind a large storage container – forty feet tall, cylindrical, and with each passing moment becoming more riddled with bullet impacts. The attacking for was obviously more than the ten men they had been told to expect. The enemy had large caliber automatic weapons, and rocket-propelled grenades at a minimum.

So far, neither side seemed to realize that a group of newcomers was about to join the fight with the violence and precision that only a team of special operators could deliver.

Frank took up position behind the rusted front end of an old two-and-a-half-ton cargo truck that looked like it had been built in the 1940s. He knew the truck would offer Sergeant Fisher and his own rear-end some reasonable protection. Frank watched and waited as the remainder of the team picked the best available fighting positions and angles to engage the terrorists; he corrected himself, “alleged terrorists.”

Using a flurry of hand signals, he let the team know the plan. They would start firing as soon as Frank let the first rounds fly.

Frank took careful aim at what appeared to be the terrorist’s heaviest machine gun position and swiftly pulled the trigger. The team opened up as one. The had joined the battle. It was time to earn their combat pay.

Bullets impacted three of the enemy positions. Concrete chipped away from the walls, adding more danger to the deadly projectiles that were flying around. The tangos stopped firing at the security team, apparently surprised by this new development.

The new incoming fire he and his team were putting out was heavier and far more accurate than what the security team was able to produce. Two of the terrorist positions had stopped moving after the initial volley leaving six known enemy positions for Frank and his team to deal with.

Frank took aim at the closest of those remaining and continued firing. Just as he pulled the trigger, and RPG was launched from one of the flanking positions and streaked directly at one of the team’s locations.

He watched helplessly as the shot tracked towards two of his men. The position that two Sergeants had taken would not protect them from a direct hit. They were forty feet away from Frank’s position, and there was not a damn thing he could do to save them.

The two men saw the RPG coming their way, their eyes went wide, they started to turn but it was too late, RPGs were too damned fast. It hit, and all that could be seen was a fiery explosion followed by dust, debris, and a fine red mist that had once been men under Frank’s command. His teammates, his friends, now dead.

They continued to return fire. Everyone knew the risks. They would mourn the dead later.

Once the dust settled back to Earth, the only evidence that could be seen to prove there was once a living human in that location was a severed arm about ten feet away from the blast, and a disembodied leg laying in a slowly expanding pool of blood. Small globs of unidentified matter were splattered against the walls. The bloody remains may not have been from the same person. Only time and DNA would be able to determine which body parts belonged to which of his soldiers. It was not the first time he had lost men under his command, and it stung just as much each time.

Focusing on the battle, he looked up to make count of how many terrorist positions were left. They were down to three.

There was no good way of getting a clean shot at any of them. They had elevated, shielded positions. They had put themselves in a fantastic defensive spot. They were the exact locations Frank would have chosen if he were trying to perform their mission. He touched Sergeant Fisher on the shoulder and pointed to the door of the building the tangos were holding and signed his intention to take the fight to the terrorists. Sergeant Fisher indicated he was ready with a thumbs up and a feral smile. This is what they lived for, doing damage and harm to those who would do harm to the good people of the world.

Captain Banner sprinted for the door with Sergeant Fisher right behind him. Their hearts beat faster with each step as they ran. They went up two flights of stairs to the level the enemy fire was coming from.

Just a right down a long hallway, then a left, and they could clearly hear automatic weapons fire coming from at least two of the rooms. The sounds of battle were so loud that it was hard to tell if it was coming from two rooms or three. Perhaps the men on the ground had taken one more of their positions out. Maybe they just couldn’t hear well enough because of the continuous ringing in their ears.

Frank made his way to the first of the doors and braced himself behind the wall for a quick second. He stood, kicked the door, and burst into the room with Sergeant Fisher right on his tail.

Without a second thought, they quickly dispatched the two men firing out the windows with short bursts to the back of their heads from their M-4s. The bullets went in clean enough but came out taking the front half of the terrorists’ heads with them. What was left of the tangos fell to the floor with a very disturbing wet sloppy sound. The walls of the room had become decorated with blood-red mosaics complete with chunks of grey matter that was starting to slowly slide down the walls leaving dark red gelatinous streaks in their wake. These two were down, for good. The Green Berets did not have to double check them for signs of life. The faceless men were now crumpled on the floor, blood still flowing from the mess that had been their faces. To make matters worse for whomever ended up cleaning up this mess, their other bodily functions relaxed, and the smell of feces intermingled with blood and cordite.

In the room was an array of weaponry. There was an older Russian model PKM machine gun with bipod mount, a small stack of RPGs and a launcher. With all the firing still going on, it seemed the short in-room gunfight had gone unnoticed by the other tangos.

It was now obvious they had two more rooms to clear. Frank looked at Sergeant Fisher, “Let’s get the other two cleared, and end this.”

They could hear another RPG being fired out of one of the two remaining rooms and into the compound below. It was most likely aimed at other men on their team. This had to stop!

Sergeant Fisher yelled over the sounds of battle, “Sir, I can handle one of them alone if you can handle the second.”

Frank knew it wasn’t the way they were trained to do these kinds of things, but he also didn’t want to lose more men. They had the advantage of coming in from behind, so he decided they could afford to take the risk, “You got it, Sergeant!”

Frank sprinted down the hall. The sounds of automatic fire could still be heard coming from two different rooms. Frank was behind Sergeant Fisher by a few steps. The Sergeant took the first room, and Frank continued down the hall. His target was only two doors away. Once both soldiers were in position, they attacked in unison.

Frank burst into the room and fired at the first of two targets. His shots were well placed and lethal. The second target was in the middle of reloading and had been caught off guard. Frank turned his M-4, pulled the trigger, and nothing happened.

The weapon was jammed.

The tango instantly realized what was going on and charged.

Frank threw the jammed, useless weapon on the ground. He went for his handgun, but the terrorist was moving too damned fast and had a wicked looking knife in his hand that was at least six inches long.

The terrorist plunged the knife at Frank’s face, and he instinctively reached up to grab it. Its razor-sharp blade plunged into the flesh of his left hand and cut deep. Frank let out a yell of anger and pain that sounded like it came from something that wasn’t human, but he was sure it came from him.

Frank pushed back on the knife and saw blood pulsating in streams like a water fountain with every beat of his heart. He knew the knife must have nicked an artery by the way the pulsating fountain of red liquid kept spraying out onto the floor. If he didn’t end the fight soon, he knew ran the risk of bleeding to death.

Frank got his legs underneath his target and threw the smaller man across the room, where the man hit the wall with a sickening thud. Adrenaline had to be doing most of the work as Frank’s muscles were tired and blood loss was making its presence known.

Captain Banner’s world slowly compressed inward, he pulled out his pistol and put ten rounds into the tango’s head ending the confrontation.

Frank sank to the floor and put as much pressure on the wound in his hand as he could. He knew that he had to stop the damn bleeding, or he was in deep shit. A few seconds later, Sergeant Fisher came in the door. Thank God he was one of the team’s medics and appeared to be in good health after his own brawl with the terrorist from the room down the hall.

Frank suddenly realized there were no more sounds of a firefight. He looked down and saw that his uniform was soaked in his own blood.

Sergeant Fisher knelt down beside him. “Looks like you have a little boo-boo, Sir,” the Sergeant jested as he calmly pulled out a medical kit.

“I think he fucked up my hand,” Frank said, indicating the now dead terrorist and knowing that shock would start to set in if he didn’t get the injury dealt with quickly.

“Well, I can fix that, just don’t go all crybaby on me,” Sergeant Fisher fretted, getting to work.

Five minutes later the bleeding had stopped, the hand was wrapped in bandages, and Frank was holding it close to his chest. Sergeant Fisher retrieved the jammed M-4, cleared and reloaded it for the Captain as they walked out of the building to rejoin what remained of the team.

Once outside they discovered that, aside from the two dead team members resulting from the original RPG attack, there were only some minor injuries. At least he hadn’t lost any more soldiers.

The pair went over to where everyone had gathered with what remained of the internal security team.

“Sorry we ran a little late,” Frank reported to what appeared to the local in charge. “To the best of your knowledge do we have any more bad guys running around?” he asked no one in particular, hoping someone in the group knew the answer.

A tall man of at least six feet four inches in height answered, “No Sir, we don’t. You have done us a great favor. We were almost out of ammunition. If you guys hadn’t come along when you had, more of them would have gotten away.”

“More of them?” Frank snapped closing his eyes, wishing he hadn’t just heard that. “You mean some have already left the area?”

“Yes, I am afraid they did. Four men with a truckload of nuclear materials.”

“Fuck,” he said, thinking quickly. “Does the truck have any kind of identifying marks?” Frank asked while trying to maintain composure. Now he was even angrier about the delayed insertion then he had been mere moments ago. These guys were real pros. The left a team behind, knowing they were likely to die, to cover their escape.

“Unfortunately, no, not really. It was a very generic truck. We have ten that look just like it in this facility alone. We lost track of it less than two minutes outside the gate, unfortunately without getting a really good look at it. They also took out our cameras in the initial assault, so we don’t even have it on video,” admitted the man, almost apologetically.

“So, let me get this straight, we have four or more unknown military aged males, on the loose, with no way to track them, and they have a truckload of some really nasty stuff. How much material could that truck carry?” he inquired, not sure he really wanted to know the answer.

“Easily hundreds of points of raw material with shielding materials.”

“Wonderful,” was all Frank could say. Doing the after-action report was going to make this a very long night.

“Mr. Choi,” Frank called to the Warrant Officer, “Can you call for our helicopter evac? We need to make a report, and this one needs to be in person.”

The Captain sat down. The stab wound in his hand was starting to send throbbing sensations higher up into his arm. This was going to be a very long night.

AP NEWS FLASH: More trouble for the President today as polling shows him to be at his lowest popularity rating ever. The majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.


AP ECONOMIC NEWS: The markets ended mostly flat today, on light trading. Investors appear to be sitting on the sidelines, not wanting to jump into the market with uncertain economic policy direction coming from Washington. It is thought that the FED meeting tomorrow will answer some questions, which is expected to cause investors to get back into certain, very specific sectors such as technology and manufacturing.

DragonLance Legends Vol 2 War of the Twins

I, like many parents, have been trying to figure out how to get my kids to spend more time doing something that doesn’t involve the words streaming, or video games. Therefore, this summer I decided to try to read some books with them.

The three kids that live around here, ok here, are 10, 12 and 13 1/2 (I’m told the 1/2 is important). I started reading DragonLance about the age of the two oldest when there were only 2 books on the market.

The two older ones are into it. The 10 year old drifts in and out. (Working on her).

But, so far we have made it through the three books in the Chronicles Trilogy, and have just finished the second in the Legends Trilogy, War of the Twins.

War of the Twins is written by the amazing writing team of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. It is the second book in the DragonLance Legends trilogy and follows the story of Caramon and Raistlin Majere, two brothers who find themselves caught in the middle of a war between two powerful nations, ok they might be kind of starting this one. In War of the Twins, the brothers must find a way to survive and save the world, and themsleves from destruction. Especially as Raistlin intends to challenge the Dark Queen herself, and take his place amongst the Gods.

This novel is an exciting and captivating read, filled with adventure, fantasy, and a compelling story. It is full of unexpected twists and turns that will keep readers on their toes. The characters are complex and well-developed, and the story is full of suspense and action.

It is at least my third time reading it since it came out in the 1980s, and it never fails to deliver.

So far our summer reading has included the books below. Yes, I now have multiple copies of each thanks to the kids reading in parallel to me!

DragonLance Chronicles Vol 2 Dragons of Winter Night

This classic novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is filled with action, suspense, and a captivating story line that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

One of the main characters in this book is Raistlin Majere, a powerful mage who is determined to become the most powerful wizard in all of Krynn. Raistlin is a complex character who is both a hero and an anti-hero. He is often seen as a villain due to his ambition and ruthlessness, but he is also capable of great compassion and loyalty. Raistlin’s journey to become the most powerful wizard in Krynn is one of the main focuses of the novel and is sure to keep readers engaged.

In addition to Raistlin, the novel also features a wide range of other characters, including the heroic Tanis Half-Elven, the brave Caramon Majere, and the mysterious Kitiara Uth Matar. Each of these characters has their own unique motivations and goals, and their interactions with each other create a captivating story.

If you’re looking for an exciting adventure that will keep you hooked for hours, Dragons of Winter Night is the perfect book for you. With its complex characters, thrilling plot, and captivating story line, this novel is sure to be an unforgettable experience. So don’t wait any longer – pick up Dragons of Winter Night and start your adventure today!

This book, like Dragons of Autumn Twilight, has a little bit of art before every chapter that foreshadows something about to happen. I did my best to capture many of those.

Please, if you have not read the Chronicles Trilogy (which later grew to four books) pick it up today. Start with Dragons of Autumn Twilight, you won’t be disappointed.

Intro art to book 1

Chapter 1 White-winged ships. Hope lies across the Plains of Dust.

Chapter 2 Between mater and dragon. Dismal journey.

Chapter 3 Tarsis the beautiful

Chapter 4 Arrested! The heroes are separated. An ominous farewell.

Chapter 5 The riot. Tas disappears. Alan Starbreeze.

Chapter 6 Knights of Solamnia. Tasslehoff’s glasses of true seeing.

Chapter 7 “-not destined to meet again in this world.”

Chapter 8 Escape from Tarsis. The story of the dragon orbs.

Chapter 9 Silvanesti. Entering the dream.

Chapter 10 Waking dreams. Future visions.

Chapter 11 The dream ends. The nightmare begins.

Chapter 12 Visions shared. The death of Lorac.

Intro art to book 2

Chapter 1 The flight from Ice Wall.

Chapter 2 The White Dragon. Captured!

Chapter 3 The Speaker of the Suns. Laurana’s decision.

Chapter 4 River of the Dead. The legend of the Silver Dragon.

Chapter 5 Silvara

Chapter 6 Pursuit. A desperate plan.

Chapter 7 Dark journey.

Chapter 8 The Tomb of Huma.

Chapter 9 The Kender’s startling discovery.

Chapter 10 Silvara’s secret.

Book 3 intro art

Chapter 1 The Red Wizard and His Wonderful Illusions!

Chapter 2 The Knight’s Trials

Chapter 3 The dragon orb. Caramon’s pledge.

Chapter 4 Yuletide guests.

Chapter 5 Gnomeflingers

Chapter 6 The Council of Whitestone. An important person.

Chapter 7 An unexpected journey

Chapter 8 The Perechon. Memories of long ago.

Chapter 9 Tanis captured.

Chapter 10 The High Clerist’s Tower. The knighting.

Chapter 11 Death on the plains. Tasslehoff’s discovery.

Chapter 12 The sun rises. Darkness descends.

Chapter 13 The sun rises. Darkness descends.

Chapter 14 Dragon orb. Dragonlance.

I love these books, and the artwork is no small part of that love.


DragonLance – Dragons of Autumn Twilight Chapters 18 & 19

Chapter 18

Fight at the lift.

Bupu’s cure for a cough.

The elevator we saw in order to get up and down without the use of modern day machinery uses the gully dwarves as weight to bring the Draconians up from far below in the ruined city. The result of this discovery is that there is a thrilling fight that takes place in a giant pot that is used as an elevator car.

It sways back and forth as weight gets thrown around inside, making things far more complex, it is a fight you just have to read. Fantastically written.

In the fight the group was temporarily separated resulting in two different melees taking place at once. It took some very innovative thinking on behalf of our companions to get out of this sticky situation.

A gully dwarf by the name of Bupu comes to the rescue and during a lull in the fight shows them another way to get down below.

Remember, the gully dwarves mean well but aren’t that smart. On top of that there is a fun loving Kender in the group, so their journey to the lower parts of the ruined city is…interesting.

Chapter 19

The broken city.

Highbulp Phudge I, The Great.

We get a little more backstory on what happened to Xak Tsaroth the night of the Cataclysm. Bupu leads the group along a pathway not taken by the Draconians for multiple reasons to go and see the leader of the gully dwarves, the Great Highbulp Phudge I.

It wasn’t the easiest path to traverse, but it did serve to avoid the Draconians.

One of the cool things in this chapter is that never before have I listened to a frustrated dragon complain. Now I have.

The gully dwarves lived in a part of the ruined city that neither the dragon, nor the draconian care about. Interestingly we learn more about the gully dwarves that will come back in future books. They are generally considered cowards, and will avoid a fight at all costs. However, when they are backed into a corner they are ferocious fighters.

Throughout the chapter we start to see questions arise. For instance, Sturm starts to ask questions about why Raistlin is so excited to have come to this destroyed city.

We find that the Great Phudge I does not like life with the dragons or the draconians and wants the companions to make them go away or kill them. He “knew” where the dragon lair is, and how to get there, but he is nervous that the companions are just here to steal from the dragon and run. So will he double cross them? We will find out in future chapters.

DragonLance – Dragons of Autumn Twilight Chapters 16 & 17

One thing I love about these authors is that they bring to life the serious, dark moments, but also do manage to bring some light hearted things as well. That makes it much more realistic for me. Yes, life has dark times, but it also has funny things that happen, even in the dark times. It is part of the writing genius of the duo Weis and Hickman!

Chapter 16

A bitter choice.

The greatest gift.

The dragon attack in the previous chapter left Riverwind burned so badly his internal organs were exposed in places, but he was just outside an ancient temple to the gods.

During that attack Goldmoon was inside the temple, and learned many things including being given the gift of becoming a true healer, and learning that she and the companions are to recover the Disks of Mishakal. (more on those later).

She emerges after the attack and orders Riverwind, or what is left of him, brought inside. Somehow, during the attack, she gained enough powers that with the staff she manages to save Riverwind’s life and brings him back to virtually perfect health.

Now, they must rest and then go and find the dragon’s lair, where it is said the Disks of Mishakal are hidden, and recover them…from the dragon’s lair. What could go wrong?

Chapter 17

The Path of the Dead.

Raistlin’s new friends.

The companions managed to get a night of rest inside the temple. They finally were no longer facing exhaustion, but were preparing for a day when they knew they may have to face a dragon!

Sure the plan was to just find the lair and make off with the disks, but is anything ever that easy?

We find out many things in this chapter, and a little bit of the twin’s backstory is revealed. Something massive and likely disturbing happened in the Tower of High Sorcery when Raistlin took his test, and they are forbidden to speak of it. What happened does come out much later in the series, but for now, it is enough to know those two have an amazing bond for some reason that goes far beyond mere brothers.

They find their way deeper into the ruins of the city, and start on their trek to find the lair of the dragon. Along the way we finally meet gully dwarves! Flint, is not a fan of these guys. They are not very smart, can be stubborn, and are known to be generally cheerful, but Flint has a whole thing where in his opinion they all need to be exterminated. But, in this case they are needed to help the companions.

We meet the gully dwarves when they are being used as a counter weight to operate an elevator of sorts to bring Draconian forces, who they call the big bosses, up from deep below.

With a little help from Raistlin they enlist the gully dwarves to help them make their way below, and hopefully recover the disks!

DragonLance – Dragons of Autumn Twilight Chapters 12 & 13

Chapter 12

Winged Sleep. Smoke in the east.

Dark memories.

The Forestmaster took care of their travel problems with flying horses (aka Pegasus), or Pegasi for the plural version. Never thought about the plural version did you?

How else do you get someplace in a hurry? Now, because no one here has ever flown before, and the Pegasi don’t want anyone to get hurt the companions are put into a magic induced sleep for the length of the journey.

Once they landed and Tanis awoke the lead Pegasus informed him they had to stop before the final destination due to a great evil that had been awakened on Krynn, something he hadn’t felt since before the Cataclysm. So apparently he’s been around a very long time. Is he alive or dead? We don’t know.

The landed a half day journey from Goldmoon and Riverwind’s village, but close enough they could see great smoke clouds coming from their homeland. They rush to the village to find that it has been decimated in the worst battle anyone could recall. Fires burned so hot that even the stone had melted.

The only living being they could find was a dog.

The emotion of this chapter jumps off the page. The authors are so gifted at making you feel what the characters feel I say, if you are enchanted by the storyline you must experience for yourself. It is amazing.

They leave the city and continue on their path to Xak Tsaroth.

Chapter 13 

Chill down. Vince bridges.

Dark water.

The trip so far may have just been a little too easy. By all accounts they should still be able to make their destination by the deadline.

More emotion of the situation starts to leap off the page. Goldmoon has been told all along that this blue crystal staff is a gift from the Gods (maybe). But it is a gift, a staff of healing! Half of Krynn appears to be searching for this thing, so how can it not be an amazing gift.

A gift that got her entire family, all her friends and her home destroyed. What kind of gift is that?

Along the way they must travel through a swamp, across vine bridges, all to find the most valuable thing in the world. But who else might be in the area looking for this?

Draconians! This time they are magic users and Raistlin can’t solve the problem before they are all encased in magic spider webs!

Will they survive! Can they survive in there? We don’t know! We do know they can’t move, and are now captured by the Draconian lizard-men!

Why did I write The Diocese Dilemma – I mean…really?

I recently released a novel called The Diocese Dilemma, and it is a pretty far departure from the other things I have written. Why would I do such a thing?

And more importantly why would I turn a Catholic Priest into a Serial Killer?

Well, that is not that easy to answer but I will give it a try.

I grew up in the Catholic Church, I consider myself a spiritual person, I believe in God, but I think dogmatic religion is a challenge, at least for me. If it works for you, please, don’t think I am trying to talk you out of it.

In order for me to really work through some issues I have with people who exercise religion in a more hypocritical way are pretty deep.

I have personally been told by a Christian that if I drink alcohol I am going to Hell?

Ok, so Christ isn’t in Heaven because didn’t he turn water into wine?

I have seen people who profess to be deeply rooted Catholics (and other religions) repeatedly be unfaithful to their spouse. The swore before God to forsake all others?

I see these Scriptures that say one thing and people who love to quote them do another.

It made me question things. And if people can so routinely misinterpret and pervert Scripture to justify their own actions, and I can notice it, surely clergymembers see it.

What happens if a Priest, who sits in the Confessional and listens to people confess their sins over and over gets just fed up with the hypocrisy and says you know what…some of these people are beyond absolution.

Eye for and Eye, right?

Make the punishment fit the crime?

Priests are supposed to be the sword and shield of God according to Scripture.

Can a Priest get so frustrated that he takes the worst sinners, pulls them out of the confessional and goes Old Testament justice and takes that Eye for and Eye a bit further than he should (kind of hypocritically).

And given all of the cover ups the Church has done over the years (and many religions have done) could and more importantly would the Church cover it up? What if the Church leadership agreed with his actions?

This book helped me really understand and see that these things (Scripture) are very often quoted by people who rarely think about the words, they just use them in a way to get you to do what they want, make themselves feel better, or justify some action.

While violating the crap out of other Scriptures (and Commandments).

I do think that this sort of thing could happen. Mind you I have no evidence that it has, but I do know that the Catholic Church (during the Inquisition) did kill a bunch of “sinners”

Would that happen again?

Could they get away with it?

Would they cover it up?

I dunno, you be the judge, and I can tell you right now I am not sorry about what Father Santini did to that person who was selling access to very young underaged women for purely perverted (and rough) pleasure of powerful people.

That guy had it coming.