A Modern Review of the Dragonlance Books

What is good, bad, ugly and attractive about them

As a huge Dungeons and Dragon’s fanatic and a fantasy book nerd, it is very surprising to admit I only recently read through some of the classic Dragonlance series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. The series follows a band of adventurers in a world named Krynn. A place of mystery and magic, gods and dragons. The core starting books are the chronicles which introduce us to the party and the main forces which enact themselves on the world in the war of the lance. The many different adventures that characters take, including switching up party members makes it a very fun and comfortable adventure. You’ll have plenty of time and stories with the characters you love in a way most reading can’t provide.

So why should one read the Dragonlance books? That’s simple. Dragonlance deals with the forces of good and evil and the greys the characters must paint along the way. Each has a strong characterization and arcs which both captivate and surprise. As the ages in story unfold, you get to watch some of your favorites grow and change in ways. You see their children grow to adventure and even get very solid endings for ones you’ve journeyed with for many books. Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman created an incredible world with an interesting cast of ever-expanding characters. The way magic is obtained and used is so light compared to most fantasy with magic and it is way better designed. There is some awkwardness in the first book to get through. Having to introduce that many characters is difficult and it took me a long time to get into.  These books are not the upper class crust of fantasy, they’re more like your bread and butter. Don’t let that scare you off from a series. I have spent many wonderful hours following along.

Let’s start with the good. Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman sure know how to write many different kinds of characters. No two will be confused with each other once you have your bearings, and by the end of their stories, I found I liked 70% of the cast. Raistlan is a wizard cursed by his gift and ever dealing with the internal struggle between good and evil. Tasselhoff is a Kender, a different race from human with none of their fear and none of their understandings of personal property. These kinds of descriptions are what make each character unique and beloved. The world of Krynn is fascinating. Gods returning to a burned out world, a secret race of dragon men, old myths and legends which interact throughout the adventure and so many unique monsters. The world building of the politics found in the elven kingdoms or the doomed tribes of dwarves which have let greed tear them apart. It’s a world worth exploring.

The sheer amount of material is also a boon. Sometimes you want a long story to fantasize over, and this one delivers. It took many months of constant reading to make a dent in these stories, and never did it feel like a waste of time. Every time I picked up a book, I felt like I was revisiting old friends.

If you like heroic battles, comedic battles, or just battles in general, this is the book series for you. War and battle is a huge part of the series, and I enjoyed just about every occurrence. It sets the mind to creating such wonderful imagery, and that is one of my favorite parts.

Out with the good, now in with the not so good. The pacing, depending on book and series, can be all over the place. Sometimes the build is right and sometimes it just seems to come out of nowhere.

Its not often, but sometimes you are stuck with characters you’re not a fan of for long periods. Also they introduce random characters to tell things from a point of view that can make it hard to be enthused about. On top of that, most of the series isn’t gripping enough to give you that “must stay up reading” feeling, which isn’t bad for the casual reader, but points out a flaw in its theory.

The romance in the series isn’t one I’d think that would attract most people. Honestly even my favorite one was ripped apart by need to give the main character a new story arc, and I hate when you introduce turmoil just to make a story if it wasn’t foreshadowed once the character was established. Even Tannis had character development that felt off the page, making it hard to accept. These were not fun parts.

To wrap up my points, the book series still waves more heavily on the good than it does the bad, but that does not mean there aren’t moments that will make you sigh. I’d say overall the good far outweighs the bad, and for a casual fantasy read, you should definitely move it up in your list. Maybe not above books like A Song of Ice and Fire or anything Brandon Sanderson writes, but definitely above most fantasy series. This did come out a long time ago and set the standard for fantasy in some ways, so think about it like reading The Lord of the Rings.

Damian C. King or "Vicious Avarice" graduated with a BFA from VCU in 2010 and went on to become a prolific filmmaker in Hollywood over the past decade. Though he continues to produce features under his company Fantasy Forge Films, recently, he has reignited his passion for writing, focusing on poetry and fantasy novels. In January 2022, he published the children’s book “The Christmas Monster” which can be pre-ordered here (https://pegasuspublishers.com/books/coming-soon/the-christmas-monster). He looks forward to contributing to Malorie’s Adventures and asks all to keep an eye out for his future books which always carry with them a fantastical whimsy born of the imagination.

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