Bret James Stewart's Reviews > Dragons of Winter Night

Dragons of Winter Night by Margaret Weis
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it was amazing

Dragons of Winter Night continues the saga begun in Dragons of Autumn Twilight. The forces of good continue to make inroads against the forces of evil, though the evil dragonarmies are clearly winning. Over the course of the novel, the good guys find and learn to use the Dragon Orbs, which can control dragons, and the Dragonlances, which can kill them. The dragonlances, of course, are the reason for the title of the series, so they are pretty important to the plot and setting. As I did with the first review, I am going to focus on characterization rather than plot. The plot is interesting and well-done, with the protagonists separated during a dragonraid and with an awesome dream sequence involving the elven King Lorac's tragic use of a Dragon Orb.

The separate groups each accomplish important objectives, leaving the plot hanging with a significant glimpse of hope in the aforementioned items. The forces of good have the materiel to combat evil. The more important issue, however, is can they rally to the task? The political, social, and racial tensions make this seem impossible. The gods themselves have entered the fray: Paladine on the side of good in the guise of Fizban the Mage (thought slain in the first book) and Takhisis, a chromatic dragon based upon the D&D version of Tiamat (who differs significantly from the folkloric/mythological entity)on the side of evil, and the healing-goddess Mishakal on the side of healing (good, really). Astinus, the god of Neutrality, is also active in the world, but does not appear until the next novel.

Although the plot is great, it is the characters we love:

Tanis Half-elven--the leader of the protagonists; he is haunted by his past; his half-elven status resulting in prejudice from both humans and elves so that he feels he belongs nowhere. Deeply introspective, Tanis is torn between his love for Laurana (they were previously betrothed) and his love-lust for Kitiara.

Kitiara Uth-Matar--human love interest of Tanis and half-sister to Caramon and Raistlin. She has joined with the Dragonarmies, which causes tension. She is sex-and-power crazed. Although it does not appear in this series, it later comes to light that she had an affair with Sturm, which resulted in a bastard son. Kitiara is a pivotal character, in many ways. You don't really like her, but you can understand why people are drawn to her.

Flint Fireforge--Flint is your typical cranky dwarf. He operates as a sort of grandfatherly figure (if your grandfater were really crotchety) both in comparison to the shorter-lived races and in general as he is old even for a dwarf. A bachelor, he "adopted" most of the others as youngsters, and they grew up with him during important phases of their lives. Tanis is his special friend. He serves as a foil for Tas.

Tasslehoff Burrfoot--Tas, as he is known, irritates me. This is okay because the fearless and voraciously curious kender are the nuisance race of Krynn. This annoyance is balanced out by his kind spirit. Part comic relief and part innocence embodied, Tas serves to keep a childlike sense of wonder and kindness in the story. In game terms, he is a thief, so he is able to sneak around, open locks, and do a lot of things the protagonists would not be able to do otherwise.

Caramon Majere--an exceptionally strong warrior. He is in love with Tika Waylan. Caramon is devoted to his twin brother Raistlin. This relationship is ambiguous so that it sometimes seems altruistic and noble and sometimes acidicly co-dependent.

Raistlin Majere--the mage of the party. He,of course, has magical skills the others do not. He is also the most knowledgeable of the group, in a the general sense. He is an interesting amalgam of good and evil, and the reader is unsure how his morality will progress, though it increasingly leans toward evil. His power is growing exponentially as well, hinting at greater things to come. He is hateful most of the time to pretty much everyone. His humanity shines through like a beam of sunlight through a cloudy sky, at times, which makes him more realistic and likeable. As with Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, you yearn for him to be redeemed, spiritually, but you don't think he will be.

Sturm Brightblade--a wannabe (and actual, toward the end) Knight of Solamnia. He and Raistlin do not get along. Sturm embodies the virtues of chivalry, though not in a completely rigid way. He is the most heroic of the protagonists, in the classic sense of the term. His death atop the High Clerist's Tower makes me weep every time I read it. This brings Kitiara and Laurana in contact as Sturm is killed by Kitiara, which is ironic in several ways. Sturm is the love interest of the elven princess, Alhana Starbreeze (daughter to King Lorac), though he, achingly for the reader, does not know it. Her heartbreak over his death leaves the reader as frutstrated and sorrow-filled as she is.

Laurana--an elf-maid in love with Tanis. She starts out rather naive, but quickly matures. She rapidly becomes the second most powerful (after Raistlin) character in the group. She leads the portion of the party she is with after the entire group is separated. She even kills a Dragon Highlord. You want to keep reading to see what she is going to do next.

Tika Waylan--a barmaid turned shield-bashing warrioress. She is the love interest of Caramon and, therefore, vies with Raistlin for Caramon's attention. She is also somewhat naive like Laurana, though she also quickly outgrows it. Anxious over being less-attractive than the other females of the group (though she is no dog, by any means) and less skilled as a warrior, Tika comes across as imminently human. She does not become as strong a character as Laurana, but she is more approachable.

Goldmoon--the first true cleric (priestess) of the post-Cataclysmic world, Goldmoon is a barbarian (very Amerindian-based) princess. She is the priestess of Mishakal, the goddess of healing. She is the impetus for the plot. She is the love interest (later wife) of Riverwind. I don't know why no one else in the group is in love with her, but they should be; I've been in love with her for twenty-five years--I'm just glad I don't have to fight Riverwind over her. She is a very noble character, but is real in that she has doubts as to her faith and abilities just like a real person.

Riverwind--Goldmoon's bodyguard and romantic interest (later husband). He, too, is a warrior and tribal hero. It is he who quested for and obtained the Blue Crystal Staff wielded by Goldmoon that is the symbol of the goddess Mishakal. He is a tribal outcast, so he can relate to Tanis and the other semi-misfits of the group except that he is prejudiced against non-humans, especially elves.

This is the group that has been assembled to bring balance back to the world of Krynn. Can they do it? You'll just have to read and see. This trilogy should be read, if only for the character interaction, which is superbly done by Weis and Hickman.

Dragons of Spring Dawning is the next book in the trilogy.
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Finished Reading
November 8, 2013 – Shelved

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