Dragonlance Side Quest: Kindred Spirits by Mark Anthony and Ellen Porath

When Flint Fireforge, dwarf and metalsmith, receives a wondrous summons from the Speaker of the Sun, he journeys to the fabled elven city of Qualinost. There he meets Tanis, a thoughtful youth born of a tragic union between elf and man. Tanis and Flint, each a misfit in his own way, find themselves unlikely friends.
But a pompous elf lord is mysteriously slain, and another elf soon meets the same fate. Tanis stands accused, and if his innocence cannot be proven, the half-elf will be banished forever. Solving the mystery will be a perilous task. Time is on the murderer’s side, and he is not finished yet. (Taken from Amazon)

I have a habit of reading multiple books at once. I cycle back and forth between them, usually switching it up a couple times a day (I know, I’m strange). While I’m vastly enjoying my first-time books, I thought it would also be fun to go back and reread some of the many Dragonlance side novels.

“It’s like folks are, my mother used to say,” he explained to his shop at large, which was as familiar to him by now as a close friend. “Some folks are like this metal, she’d say,” and he displayed a metal flower brooch to the deserted room. “They can be forced into line. They’ll adapt. Other folks are like this wood,” and he held up a tiny squirrel, carved from softwood. “If you force them, they’ll break. You have to work slowly, carefully, to see what’s within.” “The key, my mother said,” he intoned gravely to a stone bench near the door, “is to know which is which.”

The nostalgia is strong with Kindred Spirits. This was the first side Dragonlance side novel that I ever read, and I’ve read it a fair number of times since (in fact, one memorable Christmas when I was a teen, the lovely tree in my living room slowly toppled over, encasing me- and this book- in a cage of pine needles). This will be an odd review, with a mix of nostalgia-colored lenses and my recent impression.

First, the good. Kindred Spirits takes us to the genesis of Flint’s relationship with Tanis, one which will forge the bedrock of the Companions during the War of the Lance. I’d suggest reading the Chronicles before reading this book. After all, this is meant to be an add-on to the original storyline, not a starting point.

I really love seeing Flint’s heart and what led a grumpy old dwarf to befriend an angst-ridden half-elf. His friendship/mentor role with Tanis has always been interesting to me and it’s cool to see how much he helped shape Tanis into a (still moody) thoughtful leader. Watching his friendship with Tanis grow is always fun. There’s also an explanation to how a certain “betrothal” came about, and it really cracks me up.

The characters match what you see in the Chronicles, which is important to me. I can’t stand it when an already established character acts completely differently in a separate novel. Character growth is great, changing a character’s core nature is annoying. The authors know the difference and manage it beautifully.

The description of both Qualinesti and its customs is well done, interesting and detailed. The political side of things is also rather intriguing and there’s not enough of it to become tedious. However, someone experienced with the lore of Dragonlance will notice discrepancies between books and events. For example, there’s a certain magical item that makes an appearance, despite it not being possible, according to events in Krynn’s timeline. These are small niggles, which can be ignored in the enjoyment of the novel. It is clear, though, that this is a secondary book meant only to add to a character’s background.

There is a sort-of mystery to Kindred Spirits. Tanis is accused of murdering multiple people, and it is up to Flint to prove Tanis’ innocence. It’s entertaining, especially since it’s obvious that Flint is way outside his skill set. Of course, the “mystery” is far from mysterious so don’t expect any big twists or shocking revelations. The motive is also flimsy at best. So, there’s that.

At the end of the day, I still enjoy this book immensely simply because I love seeing Flint and Tanis grow from strangers to family. Also, any book in which Flint calls someone a “doorknob” is going to be one I enjoy. There are some side-splitting moments as well as some heartwarming ones. If you’re looking for more about how the Companions met, Kindred Spirits is a book to pick up.

7 thoughts on “Dragonlance Side Quest: Kindred Spirits by Mark Anthony and Ellen Porath

  1. While there is a lot I like about this book (the descriptive language is beautiful, and I thought it did do a good job portraying the early Tanis-Flint relationship), I disliked how it contradicted so much about what had been established in the Chronicles about the early Laurana-Tanis relationship. Specifically it had the Speaker already knowing about Laurana and Tanis’s engagement (whereas in Dragons of Autumn Twilight it was made explicit that he did not know they were engaged); it had Tanis break their engagement during the timeframe of the story (whereas in the Chronicles he didn’t break their engagement until his return to Qualinesti in the back half of DoAT); and it portrayed the Laurana-Tanis relationship as little more than a little girl’s one sided crush (whereas in the Chronicles it was made clear that while it was a youthful romance Tanis did fully reciprocate Laurana’s feelings.)

    Also, while I liked the characterization of Laurana within this story, I think the authors maybe had her experience a little too much here as the Laurana in this story goes through some serious ****. She is at the center of a major court scandal, is publicly rejected by the boy she thinks she is engaged to, has a psycho try to kill her and her family, and has a young man die saving her life. It is hard to believe that a Laurana who has been through all that would still be as innocent and naïve as she was at the start of the Chronicles.

    I also found it was an odd choice not to include the scene (described in the Chronicles) where Gilthanas confronted Tanis about his relationship with Laurana. Given that confrontation was said to have been the catalyst that convinced Tanis to leave Qualinesti, I think the story would have been a lot more powerful if that scene had been included.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you on all counts. I feel that the book is much more enjoyable if the discrepancies can be ignored (not easy to do!). I also don’t consider it to be canon simply because there are so many differences. Of course, with so many side novels and so many authors, there will definitely be mistakes made.
      I do really love the Flint- Tanisc relationship, though.

      Like

  2. Dragonlance remains a world I’ve yet to dig into, but reviews like this one really help get me excited for when the time comes that I crack open a few of these novels–might even run a D&D campaign there before too long, with a 5e sourcebook coming in November!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So, the scene with the Speaker of the Sun sentencing Tanis and then Flint gets to investigate was a little awkwardly done. I agree with the commenter above re: Laurana-Tanis part.
    I still can’t tell if I have read this before or not lol

    Liked by 1 person

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