191 of 195 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2002
So at this point there are 167 other reviews of this book on Amazon, why should you read this one? Simple, I'll give you the straight dope on it.
To start, the three Dragonlance Chronicles (I'm reviewing them together) are a strongly recommended read. I've read many of the other reviews here and there is commonly reference to how this book is clichéd, how it "stole" from Tolkien, and most popularly, how the characters are either amazing or flat. Permit me to address these concerns...
This is a standard fantasy epic. A group of heroes, diverse in skill and personality, meet and decide to face the growing evil in the world. They eventually find out they are among the chosen and meet the most powerful beings in the land, and inevitably face the evil and defeat it. To say this is cliché is in itself cliché. If you are a fantasy reader you are obviously not averse to authors adopting conventions, any more than fans of other "formula" genres are (Crime, Law, Romance, etc). It's like giving a poor review to a car because the engineers had the lack of creativity to give it four wheels and to put the steering wheel on the same side as all the other cars.
As far as stealing from Tolkien, I have this for you: whatever. Tolkien defined a genre and others have followed in his footsteps (hence the reason it is a genre). Keep in mind that Tolkien didn't exactly invent elves and goblins either, but adapted and shaped them to his own purposes. While this trilogy isn't as much of a milieu piece as Lord of the Rings, it has other strengths. As far as exploring the environment itself, you can see the visible hooks throughout the series for the other (future) books to latch onto. There are now over 100 if you really want to explore the world of Krynn.
And finally we come to the characters. I strive to be objective of others opinions, but to say these characters are flat is ludicrous. The depth these authors have achieved is that of long books with one or two characters, not the 6+ this one utilizes. Are the characters themselves cliché? Yes. Keep in mind this world is defined by and for a role-playing game, where you are given finite choices of roles to play. To step outside those roles would cause dissention among both readers and players. However, instead of begrudging these boundaries, the authors revel within them. We find the conflict of the characters themselves with these roles, something rarely seen in this genre. Sturm, the knight, is bound by a code and not only do we see the conflict of a rigid code with a changing world as we would expect, but we see the struggle of the character himself with his beliefs. I won't go through each character but suffice it to say that several are explored in depth, especially Weis' "signature" (or for those more cynical, "franchise") character Raistlin. For most, we find their strengths, weaknesses, fears, loves and hatreds. To ask more is a little much I would say.
The above points are valid discussions, but most people seem to miss the real strength of this series, perhaps because they were too concerned about evaluating its "quality". To put it plainly, its fun! I read these books soon after they came out in the mid-80's, and have just re-read them, finding myself surprised to find they were as enjoyable now as they were then. On top of the character development, we have lots of action in various environments; we have an appropriate amount of comic relief that is well spaced and spread among a few characters. We follow the characters through times of happiness and times of horror. I'll make no claims at this point of how good or bad Weis and Hickman are as writers, but I can say they know how to tell a story.
So the short and sweet of it is: read the books and enjoy them. If you aren't so overly concerned with ranking them and evaluating them (as you should never be on a first reading), just follow the tale as the authors spin it for you. I can say that you will definitely have fun if you let yourself. I would give it 4.5 stars, but that isn't an option, so I'll round it up to 5.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2000
This is _the_ book that spawned a saga of over 80 books to date. Being a New York Times Bestseller, the quality of the book should be self-explanatory.
The story is set in a world of Krynn, a somewhat peaceful world with magic. As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that an evil force is stirring up in the northern lands. The people believe gods are gone, and now worship a new set of gods. Anyway, enough of the intro.. you'll enjoy much more when you read the book yourself.
The characters are very well developed. All the characters have a detailed past, which explain why they act that way towards the other characters. While they never seem to completely get along, they always work things out.
This fantasy novel is not just killing and fighting against evil. There is humor, sadness, and romance. The humor comes from the kender (an annoying race) named Tasslehoff Burrfoot, who always finds the fun part of an otherwise very frightening or dangerous scene. A magician you'll meet later on in the book also provides good comic relief.
The authors, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, have created a great world for more than enough room for the storyline to progress and expand. The history is rich, and evil is abundant.
This book is the first in a trilogy that started it all. If you are a fantasy reader, you can relate the quality of this book to the likes of Philip Pullman, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, and of course, J.R.R. Tolkien. If you aren't a fantasy reader, this can be an excellent book to start with. If you want more, go ahead - there's over 80 books in the saga, with at least seven of them from Weis & Hickman.
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2001
I have to admit I was a little reluctant to read this book.
I've had a little prejudice toward books based on gaming but now after reading this masterpiece, I'm hooked on dragonlance!Weis and Hickman have successfully transported me to the world of Krynn.When I first started the book, I thought this would be quick undemanding tolkenish fantasy read with your humans,dwarves and elves battling against evil.I was wrong! Weis and Hickman's novel, Dragons of Autumn Twilight is more complex than that.You have a diverse group of friends: Tanis-the noble half elf/half human who is a great leader and who is torn between two women: warrior maiden, Kitiara and elfwoman, Laurana.
Sturm Brightblade-the knight of Solamnia who seeks to bring back honor to knighthood.Flint Fireforge, the gruff but lovable dwarf.
Caramon-the giant warrior with the heart of gold.Tasslehoff Burrfoot-the comical kender and last but not least, Raistlin.
Caramon's dark twin brother who is powerful but secretive mage.These heroes come together in what they thought would be a peaceful homecoming but instead they meet up chieftain's daughter, Goldmoon and her lover Riverwind.Goldmoon carries a powerful blue crystal staff with awesome magical powers.These heroes soon find themselves battling sinister draconian soldiers and terrifying dragons to save their homeland from a invasion from evil minions of the queen of darkness! The authors have created a stirring saga of loyality of friendship.The passion of true love and passionate fight against evil.The world building skills are considerable as you get a history lesson of this beautiful but troubled world.A the complexity of characterizations are outstanding.Characters like Raistlin, the dark mage who quiet and who seeks power through spells even after his obession destroys his body and distances himself from his friends and Tanis a quiet but effective leader who can lead his friends into battle but cannot make decisions of the heart.This novel also has scenes of fierce battles, witty bantering between tass and Flint and touching romance between Goldmoon and Rivewind.A unforgettable saga of adventure awaits you in this book so turn the first page and be enthralled!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2007
They never expected to become heroes, never desired the war that brought them together, only to shape their lives forevermore, destroying some, elevating others, but nevertheless, mercilessly changing all. It is autumn in the city of Solace. A time when old friends seek to reunite, a time for love and joy, tenderness and care, a time to celebrate the future and ignore the regrets of the past. Only, these typical pleasantries are remiss from the formerly cheerful town of Solace for war is in the air. There is talk of strong and dangerous armies amassing in the north, talk of monsters and ancient beasts arising from their centuries long sleep ready for destruction and vengeance. And, trapped within these turbulent times, are our confused heroes striving to the very last moment to save their beleaguered realm from the evil that is to come; the evil that will usher in the legendary War of the Lance. Strum, a noble Solamnic Knight; Tanis, a dejected half-elf; Tasslehoff, a happy go lucky kender; Flint, a grumpy old dwarf; Caramon, a strong and valiant warrior; Raistlin, a frail yet powerful mage with hidden depths that will one day erupt; Goldmoon, bearer of a healing staff, daughter of Chieftain; Riverwind, Goldmoon's devoted paramour: this is our band of unlikely heroes. Together, these valiant warriors must struggle in a world gone awry, must fight not only the ensuing mayhem but their all too human frailties as well. This then is there story.
Easily acclaimed as one of the greatest modern fantasy epics, Dragon's of Autumn Twilight is well worth the title. Few books there are that can rival it in style, eloquence, depth of characters, and good old fashioned story telling. This is the kind of tale to share with friends and family around the cozy glow of a camp fire, the kind of drama suitable to pass on to one's children and one's children's children. Indeed, the realm of Krynn itself seems to truly exist as if for no other reason than the reader's devoted belief. Whether you, the avid bibliophile, are drawn to fantasy literature or not, Dragon's of Autumn Twilight cannot but captivate and enthrall leading the reader on an adventure that not only spans the narrow gulf of reality, but that of time and space as well taking the reader on delightful adventures filled with lovable characters that soon initiate themselves as one of the family.
Complimented with an imaginative setting filled with myriad fantasy creatures both expected and original, the tale starts as it means to go on allowing the action to take place almost immediately. The reader is never once bored or distracted rather the story works like one of Raistlin's elusive spells, enthralling and captivating the reader to the exclusion of all else. So addictive is the tale, so unique is the drama, and so effecting are the characters that the reader soon forgets all other aspects of life and fully enters into the realm of Krynn battling beside the valiant warriors, suffering when they suffer, rejoicing when they rejoice, and never once forgetting the stakes of the battle for all Krynn hangs in the balance. Will evil triumph or will good conquer?
Provided with a likable cast, the reader soon finds it amazing that half elves, kender, and dwarves, are equally sympathetic as the human characters. Also, the "good" protagonists are never burdened with that sickeningly perfect aura usually subscribed to fantasy warriors. Rather, each character is fleshed out as it they were real allowing that with their strengths weakness also follow making a cast of un-human characters bear the burdens of human emotions. Likewise, the villains are also fulfilled with realistic personalities effectively imbuing them with a more chilling aura. Classic characterization at its finest.
As with all truly good tales, the writing style employed also boasts of perfection. Each sentence is erudite yet easy to understand neither speaking down to the reader nor becoming burdened with unnecessary simplicity but instead choosing to fall in the middle where perfection lies.
The conclusion was shocking, dramatic and intriguing instantly leading the addicted reader onto the second Dragonlance drama, Dragons of Winter Night where the Chronicles series continues to build in suspense and complexity leading the reader on a wondrous journey into the fantastic realm of Krynn where anything is possible.
Final Thoughts: Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a novel not to be missed. Filled with fantastic wonders, epic battles, shattering sorrow and insurmountable joy, it contains everything that makes a novel truly perfect. And, when finished, the joy is further enhanced by even more epic dramas from the realm of Krynn. Highly recommended!
The Dragonlance Chronicles Series:
(1.) Dragons of Autumn Twilight
(2.) Dragons of Winter Night
(3.) Dragons of Spring Dawning
(4.) Dragons of Summer Flame
The Raistlin Chronicles:
(1.) The Soulforge
(2.) Brothers in Arms
The Legends Series:
(1.) Time of the Twins
(2.) War of the Twins
(3.) Test of the Twins
The Lost Chronicles:
(1.) Dragons of Dwarven Depths
(2.) Dragons of a Highlord Sky
(1.) Darkness and Light
(3.) Brothers Majere
(4.) Riverwind the Plainsman
(5.) Flint the King
(6.) Tanis the Shadow Years
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2000
At first sight this book might seem loaded with cliches: its a part of a saga, it has goblins, dragons, and unicorns, and, quite naturally, the protagonists are a "band of unlikely heroes" (a despondent knight, an overprotective tribesman, a sorcerous princess, a wise but tortured leader, a grumpy dwarf, a sinister mage, and a naive, fearless hobbit-type character fill the extensive cast of heroes). So how does the first book in the Dragonlance Chronicles manage to hold its own, and, moreover, become a long-time bestseller? It has a believable, cohesive plot, it is communicated in a clear, precise language, it is filled with brilliant imagery, and it doesn't try to mimic the modern world (unlike the hundreds of "pagan fantasy" novels that are flooding the market today).
The first novel about the world of Dragonlance was created out of the AD&D game, which enjoys quite a number of interesting settings. Nevertheless, this is legitimate fantasy (I wrote this sentense for the people who sneer at the mention of role-playing) at its highest. Whether Tanis and friends are dealing with undead, ancient temples, dragons, or other obstacles, we, as the readers, are always treated to sophisticated ethical dilemmas and intelligent thinking.
However standard the plot might seem (an old evil rises once again) by fantasy standards, it seems fresh and interesting, because the novel doesn't focus on any one aspect of fantasy - there's mystery, suspence, thrill abound, open-mouthed awe, romance, drama, pretty much everything. The characters are living people, rather than sword-swinging smart-mouthed automatons.
Oh, a word of warning: there are over eighty books set in the world of Dragonlance. And not all of them are good. Try and be intelligent.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2001
I started reading this book right after The Lord Of The Rings. When I started I wasn't expecting much. It turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time.
My favorite part was the characters. Tanis Half-Elven is the leader of the group. He is a good warrior, but dosen't like to fight. He is wise and trusted by all his friends but gets hung up on his love for two women and his mixed heiritage. Sturm Brightblade is a Knight Of Solamnia (Solamnia is a country in Krynn) which means he has to follow a strict code of honor. I have read alot of Dragonlance books and usually I don't like knights. They are usually stuck up and annoying. Sturm is the exception. Then there is the irrepressible kender. Kender are a race on Krynn that get along with everyone, but no one gets along with them. Tas is the comic relif in this book (his fights with Flint are very funny). He is innocent and at times annoying, but always fun to read about. Flint Fireforge is a old dwarf who loves complaining. He is the father figure in the group and another character who is fun to read about. Riverwind and Goldmoon are two barbarians that meet the rest of the group because of a staff. These two are my least favorite characters. Kitiara Uth Matar isn't a big part of Dragons Of Autumn Twilight. She is one of the women Tanis loves. For people who haven't read this book yet I won't give away anything, but all is reveled in Dragons Of Winter Night. Caramon Majere is the exact opposite of his twin. He is handsome, friendly, and a good warrior. Although Caramon isn't intellegent he is extremly useful to the group (esppecially in battle). Out of all these characters, Raistlin Majere is my personal favorite. He is a Red Robed mage (red robes means he is neutral in magic) who was cursed when he took his test (the Test is something all magic-users who want to use advanced magic take) to have golden tinted skin and golden eyes with hourglass shaped pupils (because of those hourglasses he sees everything as time will effect it). Raistlin is sick and usually coughs feels weak. He is cynical, sarcastic, unpleasant, and what has motivated me to spend almost all my free time reading these books.
The books other less important characters ( Laurana, Fizban, and Tika) are just as interesting.
The books plot pretty much revolves around the blue crystal staff. Then there are the disks of Mishakal and freeing the prisoners of Pax Tharkas. Trust me, it is impossile to put down.
"The dark crimes that stain my soul you cannot begin to imagine." Raistlin, War Of The Twins
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2000
DoAT is the first of three in the cornerstone trilogy of the Dragonlance Saga. This book and the two following is a work so excellent, I'm at a loss for words. This book deals with the concepts of good and evil. Of a few people from a small town that suddenly is thrown into the business of being heroes. this story has everything and it's simply impossible to put it down once you've started reading it. The characters is one of the many great assets of this book. they are very believable, complex characters, and getting into their thoughts is priceless. It helps the reader feel every bumb on the road, every moment of happiness and dispair and makes the book so incredibly captivating. for all fantasy readers, this book, this trilogy is an absolute must. I cannot say enough good things about it. In short, go order, go read!
Est Sularus Oth Mithas
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2010
let's get the bad stuff outta the way right off the bat. this novel was written in the late seventies by rookies so it inevitably suffers in a few areas that i'll break down quickly.
1. the novel is tinged with cheesy humor or dialogue at times, however not often enough to become a nuisance and it cleans up nicely in the subsequent novels.
2. "camp-speak" - you'll know it when you see it. the companions attempt a sort of retard pig-latin to mask their dialogue. simply the worst idea ever thought of in the universe. the idea is god awful and just throws up on itself. even the author mentions it in the annotated chronicles. fortunately we never see it again after the first time.
3. the songs and poems are silly and embarrasing. you will not look cool reading these to anyone. please dont try. they are however relevant but not a must. i just skip em'.
now the good stuff. this book is pure, portable, awesome, fun adventure. i love to see folks standing in a long ass line or waiting in a doctors office picking their nails w/out something to read. it's sad really, all that idle time, just....existing!? pick this bad boy up and you'll be looking for an exuse to wait around.
i read this when i was thirteen. absolutely blown away. i felt like bastion in the school attic. characters with dark complexities; some that are fun and free and funny as well, and some that are angry and burdened; we meet the evils of krynn too and these characters are either deliciously cliched or refreshingly original. and raistlin. yes, there's always raistlin, who will take us through the most fascinating journey of all.
this series has it all and it starts right here. through this doorway you will eventually meet dragons of many colors and intentions, you will witness the mighty dragon orbs at work and the quest for the dragonlance themselves, and the dragon highlords who do the will of the queen of darkness herself. let us not forget the undead who have a part to play, and the evil master from the past...or is it the present? elves and dwarves are represented well and no one can take their eyes off the irrascible kender, this world's answer to the halfling, lest they find themselves bereft of all they hold dear. and one can never discount the actions of the gods themselves; meddling and plentiful and they love to walk the realms of mortal beings, stirring up trouble wherever they please. spellbooks and staffs, dragonfear and dragonbreath, incantations and missing constellations, heretics, true healing, dirty dwarves on skid row, and did i mention raistlin?
this first offering has it's hiccups, but the series hits it's stride in dragons of winter night and never looks back until the end of the legends trilogy. if you take this first one with a grain of salt you will be richly rewarded, as i once was.
no, it isn't as heavy as G.R.R.M. or Tolkien, but it's somehow just as fun and enchanting. there is an incredibly well fleshed out world here and i highly recommend taking your copy wherever you go. don't be surprised if you catch yourself reading the last page of the last book in just a few short weeks! i envy anyone that gets to read this for the first time.
a forgiving & well earned 4 out of 5 stars.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2001
I first read the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy when I was about 14 or 15 years old and I really enjoyed it for the exciting adventures and for the battle scenes. I'm now 23 and I just finished reading it again for the second time. All I can say is that I loved it even more this time around, mainly for the superb character development. Chronicles succeeds on so many levels because Weis and Hickman take you deep into the main character's psyches. Thus, although the story is epic and sweeping in its scope (good vs. evil with the fate of the world in the balance), it is also imbued with a deeply human and personal quality which makes you (or at least made me) laugh at, get angry at, cry with, and sympathize with the main the characters. You walk away from this series really feeling that, whether you like them or dislike them in the end, you actually know the characters. Personally, I was furious at Tanis during the last part of Dragons of Winter Night and almost all of Dragons of Spring Dawning, but in the end you really see that Tanis is a man with flaws like us all. In the process of reading, I would have preferred that he forget Kitiara and give himself to return Laurana's love way back at the begining of Drag. of Winter Night, but he had to have a wrestle with his own demons before he could choose which woman he was going to give his heart to. At the end of the story, Tanis is a much more real and substantial character for the whole mess in the middle. I give this example because it is character development such as this (for good or for evil) that elevates the Dragonlance Chronicles far above most fantasy novels, and indeed even above the clichés inherent in its own storyline. If you want to read one superb and compelling fantasy series, you'd be hard-pressed to find one that is superior to Dragonlance Chronicles (and then read Dragonlance Legends as well, its just as good). Start, of course, with Drag. of Autumn Twilight, and after that I don't think you'll have any hesitation about reading the second and third volumes. (One comment concering comparing DL Chronicles to Tolkien: Let's let Tolkien be what he is- the father and pioneer and architect of the epic fantasy novel, and let's let Weis and Hickman be what they are- those who are masterfully building on the foundation that Tolkien laid. Personally, I enjoy both Tolkien's writings and those of Weis and Hickman equally as much, but for different reasons.)
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2002
Before reading "Dragons of Autumn Twilight", I had been told it had a reputation as one of the finest novels based on Dungeons and Dragons ever written, and that it was good enough to stand on it's own as fantasy outside the world of gaming fiction. Having now read it, I found it was more like revisiting a somewhat well-run D&D game rather than a landmark fantasy epic.
Plotwise, the book cruises through a few pivotal weeks in the lives of nine main (and another four or five secondary) characters as they catalyze the greatest war that the planet Krynn has ever seen. In the nine, you find your typical D&D adventuring gang, some fighters (including a barbarian and a paladin), a rogue, a cleric and a mage. All we really needed to make this the stereotypical gaming group would be a bard - we've even got the standard backgrounds, romantic entanglements and character conflicts.
It's basically fluff, but it's certainly readable. Having been a former gamer, I found it nice to go back and escape into a D&D world briefly without having to write up a character concept or worry about whether or not I stocked up on trail rations in the last town. As a fantasy fan, I found it nice to have a good, old-fashioned meat-and-potatoes story of good vs. evil. However, the Tolkien and George R.R. Martin fan in me wanted a lot more from the characters. None of them really hit three-dimensionality and only one or two even made it past being total stereotypes. Even the story was rather straightforward - betrayals and love triangles happened rather than being formed and, in most cases, came completely out of left field.
Ultimately, I recommend this book to the fantasy fan looking for something very light to read on the beach during summer vacation or the lonely D&D fan missing his or her group. If you're looking for something more substantive, though, stick with Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan or even Terry Pratchett.