CJ's Reviews > Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis
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Mar 26, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy

Someone played a dungeons and dragons game (which is based heavily on Tolkien's books) and then decided to write down what their characters did and publish it. And while dungeons and dragons is great fun for those playing it, everyone has had to suffer through players who labor under the mistaken impression that their adventures are just as interesting to everyone else as they are to the player...

"So then, like, you know, this Orc came out of the weapons room but I rolled a 20 and I threw my +5 sword and it went right through his shield and practically killed him. And so then, like, Arabella threw a level 23 fireball spell at him while Tantros cast an ice spell at the Orc's feet, and so he was, you know, frozen to the floor, like, when the fireball hit him...."
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03/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Marya (new)

Marya I have heard many things about this series, and what you say seems to jive with it all. Yet another reason to avoid this! (especially when I can get my MST3K jollies out of Eragon).


message 2: by Mark (last edited Feb 04, 2010 05:57PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark Dewey Um, you should realize that these writers were contracted to do this, and they were some of the major contributers to the making of Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, probably the most common campaign is based off of the opening of this book. Pretty much all of the Dragonlance books (by various authors) are tied up with Dungeons and Dragons. This, I believe, was the first Dragonlance book—it's the only one I've read, though, so my impression probably isn't what it could be. Maybe I should try some of the future ones and see if I like them any more.

Anyway, that aside, it was their first novel, so I would give them some slack here. Their later stuff published through Bantam is really *tons* better, in my opinion (it's like a night and day difference). I wasn't a huge fan of this book, myself, but I think it works better as a graphic novel (there is one).


message 3: by CJ (new) - rated it 1 star

CJ I'm not knocking dungeons and dragons - great game and loads of fun. My point is that a dungeons and dragons game translated to a book isn't nearly as exciting or fun for the reader as the game is for the player. It does work better as a graphic novel, but even as a graphic novel, Dragonlance still doesn't stack up against something like, say, Elfquest.


message 4: by Mark (last edited Feb 05, 2010 03:44PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark Dewey I guess I just wasn't convinced that the game campaign came before the book, although it does *look* like you're right by how the story is. What I've just read on the matter seems ambiguous. It definitely did come around the same time, though—maybe close enough that it doesn't matter.

However, I can totally appreciate what you're saying. Books based on campaigns from pen and paper RPGs aren't the easiest to write well, without taking a lot of liberties—I mean, players don't always want to do very realistic things. Books starting with a large group of heroes (where they're all main characters) out to fight monsters in order to progress or whatever aren't exactly my cup of tea. Plus, the character development is different, and the stories can have lots of tangents.

However, I do think it's /possible/ to get a great novel out of a great game—it just takes more effort, foresight and/or planning, I think. I can imagine it, anyway.

What's Elfquest? Sounds interesting.

I wish they had some Japanese pen and paper RPGs—maybe based off of some manga, animé, a light novel, haikasoru or such (translated into English, of course). But then, I don't know if games based off of books are always the best, either, unless they had both the game and the book in mind from the beginning—or some such.


J.G. Keely Coming late to the party, but I thought I might be able to help.

Yes, Dungeons & Dragons came first. There were other settings and even a prior, unrelated book before the Dragonlance series (by Andre Norton, no less). But yes, this book is basically some people writing down their D&D game as a story. In fact, at one point, one of the main characters unexpectedly dies, and the story going around was that his player moved away so they killed the character because he wouldn't be around to play it any more.

That being said, roleplaying (making up a plot and playing characters, like in Dungeons & Dragons) is just another way of telling a story. The only limits on the type and quality of the story is, as with any medium, the people writing it. The majority of such adventures are only fun for the people playing, as you pointed out, and are about as dull to others as a World of Warcraft raid. But then, the average person's half-finished novel or bit of fan fic isn't any more interesting to read.

However, I have played in and heard described other adventures which made for exciting, engrossing, unusual stories, usually ones created by a collaboration between skilled writers and actors. It goes without saying that you should leave the dice rolls and '+5' out of it, but there are actually some very imaginative, genre-redefining books that are taken from roleplaying experiences, such as China Mieville's Perdido Street Station .

Hopefully that clears a few things up. Thanks for the review, I enjoyed it.


message 6: by Josh (new)

Josh Smith Have you read these books CJ?? Elf quest seriously??


message 7: by CJ (new) - rated it 1 star

CJ Yes, I have read several of the Dragonlance novels and all of the Elfquest series.


Brad Bartz CJ,by your review,it makes one question how you ever came to compare dundeons and dragons game with these books.The book series is extremely "Lord of the Rings" quality and is far more exciting than the stale litle observation you gave it.Have you even READ the story? lol


J.G. Keely Brad said: "CJ,by your review,it makes one question how you ever came to compare dundeons and dragons game with these books."

These books are based on a game of Dungeons and Dragons that the authors played with their friends. All the events that happen in the book happened in the game. All the spells and abilities the characters use in the books are also from the game. The Dragonlance world was created by the Dungeons and Dragons team.


message 10: by Alex (last edited Jun 19, 2013 12:48PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alex I don't think that's entirely correct. Weis and Hickman designed the original Dragonlance modules before they wrote the books. The first modules were published and formed the basis of what has gone on to be a hugely successful series of D&D modules and one of the more popular gameworlds. The first book, I think was written to be based on the first two modules - some of the events written in the books are based on some things that happened when they playtested the modules.

From what I understand the order of events was then reversed. The Dragonlance books became popular in their own right and later Dragonlance modules were based off of the Dragons of Winter Night/Spring Dawning.


Thomas I am sorry Alex but in actuality the originators of D&D were Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and not Weis and Hickman. What Hickman did with his wife was create the Dragonlance universe. Later with Weis, Hickman expanded the world eventually creating the gaming modules based upon the world of Krynn and its varieties. Dungeons and Dragons go back to the mid 70's when both Gygax and Arneson founded TSR. I hope this helps.


Alex Not sure where I said that Weis and Hickman created D&D, so errr, thanks for that?


Thomas My mistake, I was a bit sleepy when I read the comments. I apologize for that.


message 14: by King Possum (new) - added it

King Possum I love reading D&D type books where you can tell they rolled a crit die and kill the monsters.


Joshua Shimizu Spot on review. But I'm ok with their narrative, however adolescent it may be. Reminds me of when I first read it. Just fun and allows you to escape.


message 16: by Cj (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cj Yeah, contracted or not this book is poorly written. Books like these are just soaps for fantasy buffs. I guess they could be fun for first timers or little kids, but a well-read, seasoned fantasy fan should stay away. Or at least know better.


Joshua Shimizu What would you recommend?


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Crowder I read this as an adolescent, I started out with Ravenloft and then moved on to Dragonlance. This story is a fun introduction to fantasy, as well D&D. It beats some of what is actually marketed to kids today, ya know? I like that they wrote down their D&D campaigns within this storyline. It's never been a secret, known within the fantasy community at LEAST for the past 20 years.


message 19: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Crowder I read this as an adolescent, I started out with Ravenloft and then moved on to Dragonlance. This story is a fun introduction to fantasy, as well D&D. It beats some of what is actually marketed to kids today, ya know? I like that they wrote down their D&D campaigns within this storyline. It's never been a secret, known within the fantasy community at LEAST for the past 20 years.


Matthew actually... the way I understand it is that D&D is based off of this. the exact opposite of your assumption. not sure what you all have against it. rather well written across all 100+ books


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