This week is a celebration of the fantastic book series, Dragonlance. The characters are all unique and well-developed, so of course they deserve introductions. So far, Tanis, Laurana, and Sturm have been discussed. Let’s talk about Caramon and Raistlin Majere today.
DragonLance. I don’t remember if I encountered the book first, or the (Advanced) Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Either way the two are inseparable in my mind. It was a unique idea, creating novels and games that told the same story. Letting you experience the same adventure in multiple ways. The first module, Dragons of Despair (DL1), covers about the first half of the novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I owned and enjoyed both back when they first came out, but I couldn’t tell you where my copies went.
I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Dragons of Autumn Twilight of late, savouring the nostalgia. It’s let me see the book in a new light — and learn that potentially I’d been mispronouncing “Caramon” and “Draconian” for years. The book works better than it has any right to. The attempt to dramatize the mechanics of D&D rules and adhere to the terminology of the game in the book does necessitate quite the balancing act. When Raistlin, the party magic-user, uses fine sand as a material component for his Sleep spell, you can almost hear the dice rattle. Is it more or less too distracting to read that if you aren’t a D&D player?
The books do rise above these limitations, however, thanks to some deep world-building, fascinating lore and some truly memorable and likable characters. The kender, Tasslehoff, the aforementioned wizard Raistlin, Tanis, Goldmoon and the rest. But the character I am most drawn to on this journey though the book is Raistlin’s twin brother, Caramon.
Caramon Majere may not be as cool a character as his spell casting twin brother or as quirky as Tas or even a leader like Tanis. Caramon’s strength is in his right arm and his big heart. He’s a likable, affable giant of a man who seems adept at making connections. He’s the centre of it all. Not always the centre of the action – though often that too – but his relationship with Raistlin is a core element of the books. He has strong ties to Tanis, he is half-brother to Kitiara, and even Sturm notes that it was Caramon he first felt kinship with when he arrived in Solace.
Caramon is loyal. Loyal to his friends, but first and foremost loyal to his brother. If you need his help, Caramon will give it, as long as Raist doesn’t need him first.
His failings are all very human. He’s a little too fond of food and drink. Far from stupid, he does tend to favour action over intense planning sessions. And yes, he does spend a lot of time ignoring his brother’s… let’s say foibles… but that’s family for you.
Basically, if I can bring this back around to D&D, he’s the perfect player character. And that makes sense. Even now the most common choice for D&D character is Human Fighter with a big sword. And that, friends, is the big hearted, affable giant Caramon Majere.
To hear this excellent profile read aloud and discussed by author Rob Edwards, click Dragonlance Caramon Majere
Kind and charismatic , Caramon Majere is everything his twin brother is not. He’s probably the most likable character of the group, although perhaps not the brightest. With his easy going nature, Caramon could be in danger of being overlooked as a character. What keeps that from happening and makes makes him a fully developed character is his relationship with his brother.
Caramon’s brother, Raistlin, is weak and sickly. He relies on Caramon to be his physical strength when his own strength gives out. Caramon is loyal to each of the companions, but he would betray them all if Raistlin gave the word. Caramon is his physical strength, but Caramon relies on Raistlin for direction. Without having someone to care for, someone to tell him what to do, would Caramon survive? Or would he find himself adrift?
This dichotomy makes for an engrossing relationship, and one that bleeds over into Caramon’s interactions with all the companions. Ultimately, Caramon is more than a meat shield; he’s a complicated character who, for good or ill, wears his heart on his sleeve.
-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub
More Books Featuring Caramon:
Time of the Twins (Legends trilogy)
Brothers in Arms
I can think of no character in the history of fantasy books more incredibly written than Raistlin Majere. Margaret Weis’ creation of this character may very well be the most valuable gift the fantasy community has ever been given.
Powerful. Arrogant. Mysterious. Purposefully difficult. Ill-tempered, yet caring. (Sometimes…usually when it’s to his benefit.) Complex. Frail. Manipulative. Helpful. Crabby. Calculating. Intelligent. Observant. Awe-inspiring. Terrifying. The layers of this magician run so deep, I don’t think we’ll ever peel them all back—and that’s the beauty of Raistlin.
I was trying to come up with some complex character analysis and kept coming back to the one simple fact that everything about Raistlin is perfect—even down to his negative traits. He’s crafted in such a way that it all melds together masterfully. He makes readers love to hate him—but care about him in the same breath. He treats his brother like garbage, yet will be there to help him if his life is in danger. He manipulates those around him, enrages them to the point of exasperation. But beneath those heavy robes and golden skin, there’s a man who is constantly haunted by his own mortality and weaknesses, whether he wants to admit it or not. And those factors drove him—to, well, read the books…
Raistlin, Raistlin, Raistlin, my dear old wizarding pal. How I like you and dislike you, all at the same time!
If I was doing a forensic history of Mr. Majere, I would conclude that this dude has issues! Not little issues like he might be a bit unrealistic at times or he might be a bit uncouth. No, he has full blown personality issues. He is a total narcissist, and if I was putting him in the DSM – 5 or ICD -10 diagnostic criteria, he totally fits the bill for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
My evidence, he is Deficient of conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; dominating, contemptuous and vindictive.
However, not all the time! Raistlin is more complex than that. At times, he can be gentle, kind, playful and also show all the opposite qualities listed above. For instance, just think back to the part in the Dragonlance Chronicles when Raistlin et al, take on the disguise of travelling performers. At this point, Raistlin is almost likeable. He appears carefree and believe it or not, he is even nice to children.
What? Raistlin, nice to kids? You are kidding right?
It just shows doesn’t it? Even the most seemingly unlikeable characters have a good side and are more complex than what we think, and that is most true of Raistlin. One of the most complex characters in modern fantasy.
I was first introduced to The Dragonlance Chronicles back in the 90’s by a friend who was really into D&D. At this point, I had read loads of fantasy, stuff like David Eddings, Tolkien, David Gemmel, Piers Anthony, Stephen Donaldson and Raymond E. Feist to name but a few.
On the whole, I had come across lots of wizards, Gandalf and the crew, and most of them fit the bill of being generally bumbling old men. However, this belied the power they exerted and they could at once be powerful and terrible and I liked that juxtaposition of their characters.
However, it was not until I met Raistlin in The Dragons of Autumn Twilight that I had any inkling that they could be different. Here was a guy that was similar in age to myself at the time. He isn’t particularly heroic or even likeable. He can be snarky, petty and vindictive. It went against the grain of most of the other wizards that I had read at the time. He wasn’t interested in the greater good. He was interested in what he could become and how he could get there. Not particularly admirable qualities, but a refreshing change.
In some ways, he reminded me of one of my favorite characters, Elric the Enchanter. They are both similarly afflicted by their frailties, both needing to imbibe some sort of concoction to keep themselves alive (although Elric managed to find Stormbringer and that ate the souls of those he killed and then transferred the power to him), both on the arrogant side and both had odd skin tones.
Although that is where the similarity ends
It’ s interesting watching Raistlin’s journey throughout the original Dragonlance chronicles, how he develops from his begrudging reliance on his brother Caramon to becoming an individual that relies on nobody but himself.
One of the things that is quite admirable is that Raistlin never shies away from his own actions. He always maintains ownership of his actions whether right or wrong, and you have to say, he never lies. He may not give the whole truth, but he never lies. He will always tell you the truth, regardless of whether you want to hear it or not.
One of the other characteristics that I like about him is his constant skirting of his personality. At times, he will happily wear the robes of neutrality, at others, he will wear the robes of darkness, similarly reflecting his roles within the books. At times, he will be the protagonist, at others the antagonist. I suppose looking at it, Raistlin probably started my love for grim dark fiction. Here was a character that was not particularly likeable, but could carry the weight of the story on his shoulders regardless of his lack of affability. That is not to say that he can’t be funny. He can, but it is always tempered with that underlying snarkiness.
On top of that, let’s not forget Raistlin’s power. He is definitely one of the most powerful wizards in fantasy, and this tapped into my love for beings that could warp the very essence of reality and transform it into something completely different.
So there we have it. Raistlin in a nutshell!
-Fantasy Book Nerd
There have already been two fantastic descriptions of Raistlin. However, I love him so much that I’m going to add my two cents’ worth anyway.
Raistlin is cunning, he’s smart, he’s untrustworthy. He’s known as “the Sly One” for good reason. He’s also brilliantly written and his story arc is what spawned my love for morally ambiguous characters.
Raistlin is the twin of the affable Caramon. The uncanny side of the coin, Raistlin is everything Caramon is not. He has made readers uncomfortable since his conception and I think I know why. He takes the parts of us that we all prefer to keep hidden- our jealousy, bitterness, anger, and hunger for power- and proudly brings them into the open. He isn’t a “good guy”, but he’s not your typical “bad guy” either. He doesn’t apologize for who he is, and he never hides it. He is the epitomy of a morally gray character.
Raistlin can be very cruel, which is especially evident in his interactions with Caramon. He’s also capable of great compassion. He understands what it’s like to be looked down on or bullied. His relationship with his twin is a codependent one, and is developed amazingly well throughout multiple books. Caramon is the physical strength of the frail Raistlin, but Raistlin is Caramon’s will and purpose. It’s hard to say who needs the other more.
Raistlin can’t swing a sword, nor can he shoot a bow. He’s a magic user, extremely skilled in his art. Oh, and did I mention that he has hourglass eyes and golden skin? I’m not explaining, I’ll leave that to the books. Let’s just say, Raistlin is hardcore. However, it’s his complexity of character that makes him one of my favorite characters of all time. Certainly, he’s my favorite magic user (sorry, Gandalf).
-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub
More Books Featuring Raistlin:
Time of the Twins (Legends trilogy)
About the Contributors:
Rob Edwards: Rob Edwards is a British born writer and content creator, living in Finland. His podcast, StorycastRob, features readings from his short stories and extracts from longer work. He writes about coffee, despite not drinking it, spaceships, despite being down-to-earth, and superheroes, despite everything.
His debut novel, The Ascension Machine was published in 2020. His short stories can be found in anthologies from Inklings Press and Rivenstone Press.
A life-long gamer and self-professed geek, he is proud of his entry on wookieepedia, the result of writing several Star Wars RPG scenarios in his youth.
Amazon: The Ascension Machine
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StorycastRob
Check out his Podcast: http://storycastrob.co.uk/
Or YouTube: Rob Edwards
Fantasy Book Nerd: Fantasy Book Nerd here! As you can see from the name, I might have a bit of a thing for fantasy.
I know, shocking isn’t it? I don’t know what gave it away!
Anyway, if you liked what I wrote, you can find some more reviews on www.fantasybooknerd.com. Don’t be scared, I don’t bite, and neither does Frank – The skelebog jester who guards the site.
Oh, and I also occasionally post on Gingernuts of Horror.
Author L.A. Wasielewski: L.A. Wasielewski is a gamer, nerd, baseball fan (even though the Brewers make it very difficult sometimes), and mom. When she’s not writing, she’s blasting feral ghouls and super mutants in the wastelands, baking and cooking, and generally being a smart-ass. She’s very proud of the fact that she has survived several years with two drum kits in the house—and still has most of her hearing intact.
Books 1&2 of her adult epic dark fantasy Alchemist Trilogy are out now, with Book3 due to debut Autumn 2021.
Find her online:
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/L-A-Wasielewski/e/B07KNTW444/
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: Jodie Crump is the creator of the Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub blog. She either lives in Florida with her husband and sons, or in a fantasy book-she’ll never tell which. When she’s not reading, Jodie balances her time between homeschooling her hooligans, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and lamenting her inability to pronounce “lozenge”.
Find her online:
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