Review: Dragons of Deceit
There are a lot of things someone could say to me to which my likely response would be, “Yeah right. That’ll never happen.” As of about a year ago, the possibility that another Dragonlance book would not only be written, but that it would be released as part of an entire new series, was one of those very things. I don’t know if I can properly articulate just how excited I was at the time. Dragonlance is the very first series of books that I can remember reading. The book that started it all, DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT, was the first book that I ever laid down my own personal funds to buy, on the recommendation of my good friend, Scot. That very paperback sits on my shelves today, possibly a little worse for the wear, sporting a blue squiggle from Tracy Hickman himself. The characters and stories created by those authors about the world of Krynn and its inhabitants, are all a very deep part of my childhood. Big nerd here, but you probably already knew that. 🙂
DRAGONS OF DECEIT is the beginning of the Dragonlance Destinies series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Man, I get shivers just saying that. The main story line follows Destina, the daughter of a Solamnic knight, living in the days prior to the famous battle at the High Clerist’s Tower that veterans of the original series will remember with mixed emotions. After her father leaves to join in that battle and never return, Destina hatches a scheme, born from the pages of her father’s library, to travel back in time and save him from an ignominious death. This, quite simply, is her story.
Starting a new series like this can be a daunting task. How much time do you give to bringing new readers up to speed? How do you weave in the elements of past books that will be important to the new story? How much do you include old characters, versus forging trails with new? This is a HUGE series, with books aplenty. I have most of them sitting on my shelves at home. But why am I spending so much time on these questions, you ask? Why am I dithering around?
Ugh. Someone get me an antacid.
The long and short of it is that I really had a difficult time reading this one. The beginning was slow. The main character, boring. Her life at castle Rosethorn, excruciatingly drab and without purpose. Despite my high levels of excitement finding massive resistance in the first dozen chapters, I pushed through those following them and exulted when the plot finally opened up. Huzzah! Traveling back in time? Yes, okay, perhaps we’ve seen that before–even within other Dragonlance tales–but at least there’s drive and direction! Maybe the real story could then get started?
But no. The farther I get into it, the more frustrating it becomes. Instead of adventure and excitement, both hallmarks of the books my nostalgia-addled brain is feeding me, this is tedious and boring, straight-forward and quite nearly a simple series of events. It reads like fanfic, intent only on name-dropping and reminding us all of what has come before. And that makes the mighty world of Krynn and all of its histories and inhabitants feel small and inconsequential by comparison. By the time I hit the halfway point, I’m all but a deflated crinkly bag of Cheeto dust, lying in a forgotten corner of the room, and I find myself considering dropping the book and walking away from it. What! Blasphemy! Outrage! This is ridiculous!
But I can’t! I just can’t walk away. This is Dragonlance! This is a continuation of my childhood. I can’t give up on it. Everything I’ve read about the book (which I have fastidiously tried to avoid) mentions Tasslehoff. How I can I walk away from the chance to read one more tale about Tasslehoff?
Okay. Sorry. My inner-self got away from me there for a bit. Despite all of this doom and gloom I seem to be spewing, there is one small piece of hope that I still hold onto and is the single source of my ratings-bump: the last 50 pages of the book. Because those last 50 pages were FANTASTIC. When I finally got to them, I was absolutely floored at how different the story suddenly became. It felt more like the originals. No longer something I wanted to run away from. I finished reading this book about a month ago, and I’m still a little befuddled by just how big of a shift the story seemed to take when Destina got forgotten, old characters step to the fore, and a story that I could believe in was suddenly spread across the pages before me. Is that opinion colored by the stranglehold that my memories of the series have on me? My reviewer brain wants to say, “Of course not. Your opinions are unbiased here.” Ahem. Well, at least I’m trying.
DRAGONS OF DECEIT is a non-starter that eventually gets to the beginning of the story that all fans of the series are going to want to read
In the end, nearly the entirety of this book felt pointless. Like, it could have been summarized into four or five sentences and shoved into one of the discussions toward the end of the book, and the story would have been perfectly fine. Even better for it. Those last 50 pages could have been a transitory novella in a separate release, with maybe an added “Summary of important events” section, or even kept here as an overly long prologue for crying out loud, and then the real story could have started without further delay.
But I get it. This story is not mine to tell. It’s theirs. I can only find solace (heh) in the fact that they finally made it to a point in the telling where I’m actually excited to read the thing. From what I understand, the contract with Wizards of the Coast is for three books. So, at least we’ll get two that might be fantastic. And that one is coming later this fall.
Here’s to hoping, people.
- Recommended Age: 13+
- Language: Very little and very mild
- Violence: Very little
- Sex: None