Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Annotated Dragonlance Chronicles

The Annotated Dragonlance Chronicles by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, 2002, Wizards of the Coast

I have been a gamer for over 20 years now, and a lover of fantasy fiction for basically as long, but I had never read the Dragonlance books. Part of it was that I never played the Dragonlance role-playing games, and part of it was that I was really enjoying reading other stuff, so why bother? Well, a couple months ago I decided that the series was popular enough, and was approach classic status, so I probably needed to read the original trilogy. At my local bookstore I found this book, a giant (over 1300 pages) omnibus edition of the original trilogy. But there's more! It's called The "Annotated" Chronicles because the original authors (and their helpers) have margin notes all throughout the book. Sometimes the margin notes recount humorous stories from the old days of writing the books (or the game adventures), or what the inspiration was for a specific poem, stuff like that. Other times, the margin notes point you towards other books or short stories that expand on events only hinted at in the books. I personally found it all quite interesting, even though I have never read the stories before.

So, what of the actual story? I thought that it was good. In parts it is great, and in parts it isn't. I didn't really like the ending, for example; it had too much deus ex machina, where things just magically work out, for me to be happy with it. I think I have to agree with the original authors (as denoted in the margin notes) that the second book in the trilogy is the strongest. It just flows great, and has a ton of good character development in it. And, really, that is where the book shines the brightest. All of the main characters show a lot of thought and ingenuity, and I really came to like most of them by the end of the book. For others in my situation, who like heroic fantasy but haven't read the Dragonlance books, I can recommend this one as a good way to enjoy the original trilogy while getting a bit into the mind of the creators. It was a fun ride.

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