on July 15, 2006
Dragons of the Dwarven Depths by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is the first novel in the Lost Chronicles trilogy. For fans of the Dragonlance universe, the Lost Chronicles represent time between the original Chronicles books. In this case, this book takes place between the events of Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Dragons of Winter Dawning. So, those readers who have read those two books will understand the story very well. Before I go further, if this book interests you at all, I think you should read the Dragonlance Chronicles before you read this book. Why? Well, for one those are he first stories involving these characters, but more importantly you will have a deeper understanding of some of the things that happen in this book.
The plot itself is typical Weis & Hickman. It's well laid out and concise with not a lot of extra stuff thrown in. I liken this book to putting on your favorite pair of old shoes. No matter when you last wore them, they still feel great when you put them on again. The story of the hammer of Kharas has long been talked about in Dragonlance circles and finally it has come to fruition. As I was reading this I could tell that Weis and Hickman had long thought about this plot line as it was just so well done and fleshed out.
The characters in this novel and exactly what Dragonlance fans would expect. All the familiar faces are present. In terms of character development there is not really a whole lot, except for Flint's character. This is for a couple reasons. It's had to develop characters that have been through several series and then come back to them at a point in the middle of the first trilogy and develop them a little without throwing something off down the road. So, I really wasn't expecting too much in this area, but what I got I was pleased with.
Now, I do have a bit of contention with the characters and this happened more than once. First, I need to say I am a huge fan of the Chronicles and the characters. I have read the Chronicles several times. Yet, when I was reading this book something felt `of' to me. It took me about fifty pages to realize what it was. There are several instances during this book where the dialog of the characters in no way matches how they spoke in previous books. I am not talking about little `oops' in dialog. I am talking whole sections that in no way fit what the characters have always sounded like and said. At times it was so glaring that it made me stop reading and I had to re-read the section to make sure I read it right. Now, some people may not think this is a big deal, but to the traditional Dragonlance fan will understand exactly what I mean when they read this book.
Don't get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book, the dialog just really through me off at times. If you are a new fan to the Dragonlance universe and want the most `complete' experience. I may suggest reading the Dragonlance Chronicles book 1 first and then reading this book, followed by the Chronicles book 2. That would give you the complete story without having to `go back' so to speak.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and am eagerly looking forward to the next one to be released in July, 2007. Fans of fantasy should all read the Chronicles books. They are truly a great story and one that has endured the test of time over and over again. I, for one, am happy to revisit the characters that I grew up with.
on June 9, 2007
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of Autumn Twilight was the first "true" fantasy novel I ever read. This was the book that made me fall in love with the genre, and I never looked back! Much like the first girl you kiss, these two authors have always held a special place in my heart. Even though they haven't written anything that really capture the imagination since the conclusion of The Deathgate Cycle in 1994, I always give them the benefit of the doubt and purchase their new books/series. Sadly, since then Weis and Hickman (together, solo, or with other collaborators) have produced works of average quality at best.:-(
Their last Dragonlance offering, The War of Souls trilogy, was a far cry from their popular Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends. This new series, The Lost Chronicles, will explore some of the storylines that were not part of the narrative of the original main sequence. Hence, it boded well for fans eager to see Weis and Hickman recapture their erstwhile excellence. After all, they were going back to their old stomping grounds, the world of Krynn, during the War of the Lance.
Honestly, I was pretty excited myself! For fans of the original series, this opportunity to go back in time and once again follow the adventures of the Companions is quite a kick. Characters such as Tanis, Raistlin Majere, Sturm Brightblade, Laurana, and Tasslehoff Burrfoot have all left an indelible mark in the fantasy genre.
The predominant problem with Dragons of the Dwarven Depths lies in the fact that there's nowhere near enough material to make a full-length novel. At best, this should have been a novella. Personally, I believe it would have worked best as a short story such as the ones Weis and Hickman came up with for the Tales trilogy.
There is so much "filler" in this book. . . I couldn't quite believe it. There are unnecessary portions filling us in on the back story. Given the fact that one needs to have read the original Dragonlance Chronicles, these parts of the narrative are totally obsolete. Add to that the inordinate amount of time spent journeying and I estimate that a good 50% of the novel could be excised without readers losing much of the story.
The second shortcoming of this book lies in the selection of the plotline that would serve as its backdrop. The search for the Hammer of Kharas was not part of the original saga, and there's a good reason why it was only alluded to in Dragons of Winter Night. It was only part of the Dragonlance roleplaying modules because the storyline wasn't that interesting to begin with. As I mentioned, not enough material. . .
Nevertheless, the narrative flows well enough, though the writing is a bit clunky at times. Although it's fun to be reunited with the characters we have grown to love, the fact that nothing really happens throughout the novel makes it hard to maintain our level of interest. I'm afraid that even Tass can't save this one.
My hopes for the forthcoming Dragons of the Highlord Skies are somewhat higher, what with the search of the dragon orb storyline and the presence of Lord Soth. I mean, come on! This one has to be good!
Hence, as fun as it is to go back in time and return to the events that marked the beginning of the War of the Lance, Dragons of the Dwarven Depths is a disappointing effort.
on August 15, 2006
It felt good to read another tale of the Companions, years after I thought their saga had wound down. I was extremely excited to see that Weis and Hickman were going back in time and finally filling in the gaps that were left when the Chronicles were first written.
This book picks up right where Dragons of Autumn Twilight left off, and bridges the gap right up until the first page of Dragons of Winter Night. We follow Raistlin, Sturm, and Caramon (as well as tag-alongs Tas and Tika) to the ruins of Skullcap as they search for the keys to the gates of Thorbardin. The latter half of the book sees Flint accepting his destiny and venturing to recover the legendary Hammer of Kharas.
As one might expect, this book does a good job of foreshadowing events from the second 2 books of the Chronicles. We're given some interesting sights into Flint's aging mind, as well as some of Raistin's confused inner-dialogue. The first half of the book also does a good job of portraying Tika's feelings for Caramon.
At points, I felt as if the book lagged somewhat. Although some chapters do a great job of furthering character development, some of the sidebar storylines seem like a bit of wasted time, and some of the narrative feels more like an AD&D dungeon crawl than a novelization by experienced writers. Above all else, I would have liked to see more substance come out of the trip to Skullcap.
My biggest complaint with this novel is the fact that it was plagued with terrible editing. Hopefully this will be corrected in later editions. At times names are spelled incorrectly, and grammer errors can be found in nearly every chapter.
Although this book had it's flaws, I would still recommend it to anyone who wishes to complete their collection of the core Dragonlance novels, and I look forward to the next two books in this series.
on May 5, 2010
This is a great first book, however words are mis-spelled, in the wrong order, or just don't make sense. It is hard to read when you have to consistantly try to figure out the authors intent.
With that said, I found the story and characters well writen and enjoyable. Kindle or the publisher should lower the cost or fix the problems.
on August 13, 2006
I know some enjoyed the War of Souls, but it wasn't my favorite trilogy in the DL world, nor do I rank it anywhere near the original Chronicles that "Dragons of the Dwarven Depths" is trying to emulate. It felt slightly whiny, the characters argued nonstop about every little detail, and the characters themselves were shallow despite what could have been an interesting plot. I really feel the same thing happened here for a good chunk as well.
It's a good plot, a plot that has the horrible prequel feeling because you know how it all ends, but a good one. The old companions that we know and some of which we love are back, but are stuck between novels and worse, stuck in a valley with a few hundred starving friends and nowhere to go. Thus, they decide to journey to the ever sealed dwarvish kingdom of Thorbardin and ask if they can stay over, sleep on the couch, you know...just until they can get a job and get their own place...what are friends for, little buddies? But the dwarves don't like freeloaders, so they tell Tanis and company to go do some chores: mow the mushroom fields, clean the chainmail, feed the giant worms, find the legendary Hammer of Kharas that has been lost for 300 years, stuff like that.
So good plot and, !surprise! a good villain actually. Dragons and draconians provide for some nice menace and action despite the fact we already know that no one can die and the general boringness of hero versus six goblin fights. The main villain, an Aurak magic using draconian called Dray-yan that is pretending to be the presently very dead High Lord of the Red Dragon Army has probably the best scenes in the whole novel since we don't have any preconceived perceptions about him (the worst go to Riverwind who does the most among out whiny).
And THAT is really where this novel hurts. The characters are hit or miss and they just don't seem like the OLD companions. If you don't hit the old beats exactly, then you're in trouble, and Weis and Hickman missed them many times. Raistlin isn't enigmatic but is more spoiled brat. Caramon isn't a trouble brother but a complete moron. Sturm is a jerk, Tika a jealous girlfriend that doesn't like the fact her possible boyfriend dares to have other responsibilities, and Tasslehoff...well Tas actually has a little bit of Jar Jar Binks going.
But, luckily for you and for me, the vast majority of those misses happen in the first "book" or first 200 pages. That was a drudge to read through but the last 200 are a complete joy. The characters are mostly on, the action is nice, the villains are around, Raistlin is smart and pained not a jerk, Tas is funnier than his Jar Jar beginnings, and everyone generally does something interesting to see that the quest succeeds.
Final Thought: Its fun to remember and to see those old characters when they shine through. Don't expect a whole slew of wild adventures and you should come out of the novel pleased with what you read. If you get through the whining and praying for the gods to save them in the beginning, you'll find some of the old Chronicles at the end. Hopefully the second novel of the trilogy continues how this one ended.
Added Thought: Please do not tell new DL readers/friends to read these chronologically. "Chronicles", "Legends", then they can come back for these. It contains a great deal of "Legends" info for some reason that would help ruin them.
on February 17, 2010
I can't help but compare this to the original Dragonlance Chronicles series "Dragons of Autumn Twilight", "Dragons of Winter Night", and "Dragons of Spring Dawning". The originals had rich descriptions and characters with various personality aspects, motivations, and conflicts. "Dragons of the Dwarven Depths" is just not at all the same in terms of depth; the descriptions are brief, the characters relatively shallow.
More than that, fans of the original series will notice that some of the characters in "Dwarven Depths" behave in uncharacteristic ways. Perhaps the characters in the Dragonlance series were always *meant* to be the way they were portrayed in this book, and maybe it was the *original series* that didn't convey what the authors or editors wanted to include. Regardless, the difference between the personalities in the original series and in "Dwarven Depths" is unsettling at times.
I don't know if the relatively poor quality of this book's because of bad writing or bad editing, or for whatever reason, but I will definitely say "Dwarven Depths" is just not at all of the same quality as the iconic original Dragonlance Chronicles. If I were to consider this book on its own merits, I would not purchase it. As it is, the book fills in some blanks presented in the original Dragonlance Chronicles, so is of moderate entertainment value to those that have read the originals.
on December 10, 2006
I'm a long time fan of The Companions, and Hickman and Weis picked up the characters again like they never stopped, but the one complaint that I have is the horrible editing. This novel is FULL of typographical errors most commonly present in the form of missing words. The further into the novel, the more frequent the errors become. Margaret, Tracy, and Wizards of the Coast... get someone to proofread a little better next time, please! If I have to wait an extra month for the release of the next book, I'll gladly do so for better editing!
on July 30, 2013
I have read so many Dragonlance books that Im just about done ever reading anymore. Hickman & Weis are awesome writers of fantasy novels that I will always be grateful, but this book, this series, Lost Chronicles, I cannot recommend. This is only my opinion. For those who like to root for the bad guys, this book may be for you? It just seems like the author is trying to squeeze blood from a rock. All the moments that were not in the main series are in the Lost Chronicles. Maybe it is why they were "lost" in the first place...
on July 13, 2006
This book is an excellent addition to the Dragonlance Saga. It's nearly seamless with the other books, Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Dragons of Winter Night, and could theoretically be read in between them with no continuity problems to the reader. However, there are lots of hints to the Legends trilogy (Fistandantilus, The Abyss, Dougan Redhammer) that those who have already read these series can appreciate the little drop ins. It's always good to see the Companions at work again, though, as always, Raistlin, Flint and Tasselhoff steal the show. The other characters are there, but mostly in a minor role, especially Laurana, Goldmoon and Elistan. Though with a title of "Dwarven Depths", it's no wonder that Flint takes center stage.
All in all, a great book and I can't wait to see the next in a year!
on January 11, 2014
Having won a small skirmish in the War of the Lance, the companions (with several hundred newly-freed slaves-turned-refugees), are holed up in a valley, hopefully to wait out the bitter, unforgiving winter and proceed to safety with the first thaws. Resourceful and streetsmart, they are aware that defeating a single commander is hardly sufficient to topple a cohesive military unit and throw the remaining draconian and human troops into chaos.
Their fears prove true after their nemesis, Verminaard, is resurrected and flexes his muscle over his escaped prizes. And so begins a desperate rush for survival and shelter in Thorbardin.
There are almost no rehashings of events that occurred in the trilogy's first third, enabling the authors to leap right into the story, showing us glimpses into the Draconian plots as well as the struggles of the heroes.
Sturm and Flint are fleshed out in detail, and they become more mature as well as composite characters, engendering rage as well as pity and sympathy from readers. Reorx himself makes a brief appearance, and shows an unexpectedly playful, almost capricious side to himself. There are references to the Dragonlance Legends saga and these will doubtlessly be of interest to fans of those books as well as new fans who have read Dragons of Autumn Twilight.