The Companions is the sixth book in the Meetings Sextet, a group of books that takes place prior to the Chronicles (although the Chronicles were written first and definitely should be read before the Meetings Sextet). It’s been a long time since I’ve read this one so I was curious how it would hold up.
The book starts with Sturm, Caramon, and Tas on an errand to collect a rare spell component for Raistlin. Their ship is overrun and they are captured by minotaurs who mistake Tas for an evil mage. An evil kender is a recipe for disaster of the funniest kind, and The Companions is worth reading to see that on its own.
It’s never been a favorite, so I was hoping mainly for an entertaining side trip into a fantasy world I love. The Companions has some issues with it, for sure. In fact, it ended up being a bit of a mixed bag for me. The reasoning behind Raistlin’s conclusions at the beginning is pretty weak sauce, but I could suspend disbelief. The thing that really bothered me were the number of inconsistencies between this book and the Chronicles. Each side novel is going to have some things that just don’t match. That happens when you have so many authors adding their stamp to a series. I do think that this book has a lot more than some of the other books, however. It was distracting and at least some of it should have been avoidable. For example, Raistlin already had his famous hourglass pupils despite not having taken the Test yet. Someone should have caught that rather egregious oversight.
The author’s writing is full of unbridled enthusiasm, though, which is infectious. The spirit behind the story is one of fun and adventure, and Tas is hilarious. I remember a conversation I had with some friends during which we mused on what an emo Tas would look like (black leggings with big buckles and spikes on all of his pouches are a must). This isn’t the same thing, but it’s still massively entertaining.
As for the rest of the book, I feel like it’s one of the weaker of the side novels. The dynamic between the characters isn’t quite there yet,and at times they look like nothing as much as caricatures of themselves, which is kind of a bummer. I remember liking another of Tina Daniel’s Dragonlance books, Marquesta Kar-Thon, much better. Maybe she felt more comfortable and confident writing a character that hadn’t already been so well developed by other authors, and that’s the difference.
There are some Dragonlance side books that work better than others and unfortunately this is a weaker offering. While I appreciated the author’s exuberance and commitment to adding to the story of the Heroes of the Lance, this just didn’t work for me. I don’t regret rereading it, but it isn’t one that I plan on revisiting again for a while.
The Companions is a good choice for those who plan to read every Dragonlance book or anyone who wants to chortle at Evil Tasselhoff. For the rest of you, put this one lower on your TBR.