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.

Book Tag: Get to Know the Fantasy Reader

I saw this fun tag over on Irresponsible Reader‘s blog. It’s one of my favorite blogs and you really should give it a follow!

While I dabble in other genres, fantasy is my go-to. I have a feeling some of these questions will stump me, or else lead me down a long and rambling rabbit hole. You’ve been warned.

What is your fantasy origin story? (How you came to read your first fantasy novel.)

Ah…question one and I’m already ready to ramble. I grew up on fantastical stories. From my first fairy tales and Arthurian picture books (The Kitchen Knight and St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges were two favorites), I moved on to easy chapter books like Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, Redwall, and the Chronicles of Narnia. As I grew older, though, I branched out a bit. I read things like the Elizabeth Peters mysteries and All Things Great and Small. Then I stumbled across the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, my gateway to adult fantasy. Fantasy went back to being my mainstay, leading me to experience many, many fantastical worlds and stories full of wonder, adventure, and humanity. So, I still can’t answer the question about my first fantasy novel: would it be Patricia C. Wrede’s series? Redwall? Dragonlance? Or another book that I loved at the time but have since forgotten?

If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

Arrgh!!! This is a tough one. My first thought is Margaret Weis but I don’t love my chances of surviving in a world of her creation. Still…I’d love to get to know characters she’s created, especially Fizban/Zifnab. Second to that would be Erin Morgenstern. I think I’d live a little longer in a world of her creation, and I’d love to wander the Night Cirus. Oh- I’ve got it! How about a mashup? During the day, I could visit The Inn of the Last Home, enjoy some spiced potatoes, then maybe fly off on the back of a dragon (particularly one that eats oatmeal). At night, I could wander the Circus. I wouldn’t need sleep in a fantasy novel, right?

As for tropes, I’m a sucker for found families. And dragons.

What is a fantasy you’ve read this year, that you want more people to read?

Oh, wow, the answer to this question could be a list of at least thirty books. I’ll go with Dragons of a Different Tail: 17 Unusual Dragon Tales this time, though. It’s an excellent collection of short stories about- you guessed it- dragons. The variety of tails (badum-tish!) and the creativity that can be found in this book is astounding! You should give it a go. You’ll happily devour it (yes, my draconic puns are truly awful).

What is your favorite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?

High fantasy is my absolute favorite. I love reading books with vast worlds, groups of well-developed characters, monsters, magic, and high-stakes battles. I love feeling like the story I’ve just finished reading is just one small part of a giant saga that continues on after I close the book. Give me nuanced characters, authors who have come up with mythologies, religions, and even special details for parts of a fantasy world that the reader may never even hear about, aside from a short offhand mention. That makes me one happy bookworm.

I have next to no experience with romantic fantasy. I recently read The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy, which I think fits into that category, but that was a rare deviation from my normal fantasy subgenre of choice.

Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?

This author hasn’t written a ton of books but based on my “pre-order with no questions asked” reaction to the news that she had written another book, I have to go with Erin Morgenstern. I pre-ordered The Starless Sea before finding out anything about it, absolutely sure that I would love it. I did love it, of course.

How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram.)

Thank you, bookbloggers, for destroying any progress I could possibly make on my “to be read” list! Every time I finish a book, I realize that I’ve added five others that bookbloggers I trust have recommended. Before We Go Blog (minus my contributions), Fantasy Book Nerd, and FanFIAddict are some of the worst culprits.

What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?

Amari and the Great Game releases at the end of August and I can’t wait! The first book in the series, Amari and the Night Brothers, was a lot of fun. My oldest enjoyed it too so I have a feeling we’ll be racing to see who gets to read the sequel first. I have longer legs, but I’m old and he still has energy, so it’s anyone’s race to win.

What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?

That it is a waste of time or is of subpar quality. People sometimes see monsters or swords and think that fantasy is always silly or doesn’t talk about “real issues”. Honestly, though, I see the same themes that are often found in literary fiction or “classics” explored equally well in fantasy books. In fact, the best examples I’ve read of PTSD come from The Coward by Stephen Aryan and from J.R.R. Tolkien.

If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

Ooh, I’m on it! Let me roll up my sleeves…and BOOM! Here ya go!

The Ventifact Colossus by Dorian Hart

Dorian Hart has created a series that showcases the best parts of fantasy. It’s easy to fall in love with the characters, the world grows larger with each subsequent volume, and the stakes become higher. This is a series with an underlying current of hope, which I love. This book was also the catalyst to my oldest son’s burgeoning love of adult fantasy, which I think is a pretty good reason for it to be one of my three recommendations.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is such a wonderful book! There’s just something timeless about it. It has a perfect combination of adventure and heart. Plus, dragons.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons of Autumn Twilight (book one of the Dragonlance Chronicles) is what started my ongoing love of fantasy. I’ve gushed at length about these books many, many times, so I’ll keep it short: this is a perfect introduction to fantasy.

Who is the most recent fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?

I am awful at remembering which blog I followed when (although there are a few that I’ve loved from the get-go). Series Book Lover is a newer to me blog (I think) that has awesome content. If they say a book is good, it’s pretty much a given that I’ll enjoy it. I also love Peat Long’s blog, which is always unique, always interesting, and has a cool combination of reviews and opinion pieces. I especially love the discussions of older fantasy (older being a relative term. How on earth can Gemmell be considered older, I ask?).

So, there you have it. I’m not tagging anyone here, but I’d love to read other answers!

Dragons of Deceit (Dragonlance Destinies vol. 1) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman


Destina Rosethorn—as her name implies—believes herself to be a favored child of destiny. But when her father dies in the War of the Lance, she watches her carefully constructed world come crashing down. She loses not only her beloved father but also the legacy he has left her: the family lands and castle. To save her father, she hatches a bold plan—to go back in time and prevent his death.

First, she has to secure the Device of Time Journeying, last known to be in the possession of the spirited kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot. But to change time, she’ll need another magical artifact—the most powerful and dangerous artifact ever created. Destina’s quest takes her from the dwarven kingdom of Thorbardin to the town of Solace and beyond, setting in motion a chain of disastrous events that threaten to divert the course of the River of Time, alter the past, and forever change the future. (Taken from Amazon)

Many years ago, I stumbled across a book called Dragons of Autum Twilight, book one in the Dragonlance Chronicles. There was a dragon on the front (I’m a sucker for dragons), and characters who looked right out of the cover at the reader, inviting them on an adventure. I opened the book and immediately fell in love with the world of Krynn, the characters, and the writing.

Fast forward more years than I’ll admit. I’ve read those books more times than I can count. I have devoured every new novel that takes place in Krynn, seen visions of the world painted by many authors. Each new novel adds to the lore and shows a new perspective. I like the majority of them, but the books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the creators of the world of Krynn, are special. I was ecstatic to hear the news that they were returning to the world they birthed.

Dragons of Deceit is the first of the new trilogy, Dragonlance Destinies. It’s been years since the last Dragonlance written by the masters was released, but they didn’t miss a beat. I wondered before reading it if this book would appeal more to new readers or to readers returning and hoping to see the characters they love.

The thing that I’ve always loved about the Dragonlance series is that it feels as though the world continues long after you’ve read the last sentence and closed the book. Reading Dragons of Deceit was like catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. They’ve had new adventures, met new people. The world has kept going, but it happily welcomed me back.

The book follows Destina, the daughter of a Solamnic knight. She loves her father, the knighthood, and all it stands for, until the oath all knights take (“My honor is my life”) causes her to lose him. Her life crumbles around her and she hatches a hare-brained scheme: travel back in time and save her dad. Of course, in order to do that, she’ll have to visit a certain well-traveled kender to acquire the Device of Time Journeying. That’s when things start to go sideways, as they always do when kender are involved.

Sometimes a long-running series finds itself in a bind. Do you continue with a storyline that new readers might be confused by, but rewards longtime readers? Or do you tell a story that has an entry point for new readers, risking alienating returning readers who want something new (I’m thinking of the multitude of Spiderman origin stories here)?

Weis and Hickman cleverly sidestepped this issue and wove a tale that will appeal to new readers and longtime fans alike. There is a mix of old and new characters, and a story arc that leans on already-established lore while still managing to be an entry point. All the important history is given throughout the book, while still somehow avoiding the dreaded info dump. New readers will be able to follow the plot without confusion, although there are things that returning readers will appreciate more.

Destina is an intriguing character, one at odds with herself. She is loyal and looks up to her father but is rather snotty toward her mom. She puts a huge burden of responsibility on herself, and it weighs her down until she has nothing left. I can’t say that I liked her in the usual sense; she was distinctly unlikable at times, which sometimes makes for a more complex story. I couldn’t fault her motivation. Wouldn’t we all do pretty much anything to help a loved one if we had the chance?

Tas was fantastic, of course. I really love that doorknob of a kender! He’s the perfect blend of innocence and unknowing wisdom. He provided laughs aplenty and a few moments that caused me to choke up a little. There’s a scene involving a helm topped with the hair from the mane of a griffin (if you know, you know) that caused my stone heart to melt.

The story was fast-paced and exciting, the sort of adventure I love reading about. It ended with a bang and left me wishing I had a Device of Time Journeying of my own, so that I could travel forward and read book two. Unsurprisingly, Dragons of Deceit was incredible. When I finished the last word, I was stymied: do I immediately reread it, or do I go back to the Chronicles– the original three that started it all- and reread every brilliant Dragonlance book written by Weis and Hickman? Deciding is nearly impossible, and that is the best kind of problem to have.

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons by Ben Riggs

Role-playing game historian Ben Riggs unveils the secret history of TSR― the company that unleashed imaginations with Dungeons & Dragons, was driven into ruin by disastrous management decisions, and then saved by their bitterest rival.

Co-created by wargame enthusiasts Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the original Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game released by TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) in 1974 created a radical new medium: the role-playing game. For the next two decades, TSR rocketed to success, producing multiple editions of D&D, numerous settings for the game, magazines, video games, New York Times bestselling novels by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, and R. A. Salvatore, and even a TV show! But by 1997, a series of ruinous choices and failed projects brought TSR to the edge of doom―only to be saved by their fiercest competitor, Wizards of the Coast, the company behind the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering.

Unearthed from Ben Riggs’s own adventurous campaign of in-depth research, interviews with major players, and acquisitions of secret documents, Slaying the Dragon reveals the true story of the rise and fall of TSR. Go behind the scenes of their Lake Geneva headquarters where innovative artists and writers redefined the sword and sorcery genre, managers and executives sabotaged their own success by alienating their top talent, ignoring their customer fanbase, accruing a mountain of debt, and agreeing to deals which, by the end, made them into a publishing company unable to publish so much as a postcard.

As epic and fantastic as the adventures TSR published, Slaying the Dragon is the legendary tale of the rise and fall of the company that created the role-playing game world. (Taken from Amazon)

“You are in a darkened room, a shadow of its former glory. Around you huddle the remains of your party, their weapons dangling from tired hands. Danger besets you on all sides. The door slowly opens, revealing an unspeakable horror. What do you do?”

This could be setup from a Dungeon Master at any late-night D&D session. It could also easily describe the situations in Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons, although the “weapons” were creative minds, and the “unspeakable horror” was financial ruin, mismanaged products, and mistreated employees. I was fascinated and heartbroken in equal measure, reading the history of TSR, the company that once owned Dungeons and Dragons (as well as Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, among other things).

Every story has two (or more) sides. So many times, the narrative is “big, bad, Wizards of the Coast devoured the little guy”, but of course there’s more to it than that. This book delves into the state of TSR and explores why on earth it was in a position to be bought out anyway. It had so much going for it: a plethora of creative ideas, artists that are still seen as some of the best in the fantasy art genre, and a passion that many workplaces just don’t have. Sadly, it also had some of the worst financial management I’ve heard of and some higher ups that just didn’t understand what TSR was trying to do.

In many ways, it was a trainwreck of epic proportions, although it didn’t start out that way. The mess made for an incredible tale, though. As the saying about train wrecks goes, “it was impossible to look away”.

Slaying the Dragon is written in an easy-to-understand way. It’s well organized and doesn’t meander. There are a few parts that I would have loved to see expanded a little (the section on the Satanic Panic, for example, since there is a lot to unpack there), but it moved at a good pace. About halfway through, I wished it would slow down, just because what happened was so darn sad. It was hard to watch the book walk toward a disaster like that.

There were interviews throughout the book, which were fascinating and added a new level of clarity. It also broke up the author’s narration and kept it from ever becoming too dry. That personal angle was always there. I have to give Ben Riggs credit: he went above and beyond to get as many opinions of what happened as possible, and dug deep into his research as well.

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons was a riveting look at the rise, fall, and reincarnation of TSR, the most honest one I’ve seen to date. I recommend this to anyone who remembers going into Walden books and seeing a treasure trove of creativity, and to D&D fans of all ages.

Dragonlance Reading Order 2022

Logo Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Image Credit: Larry Elmore
Banner Credit: Fantasy Book Nerd

The Dragonlance world is one I happily revisit every year. Rich in detail and huge in scope, the series itself boasts over one hundred novels, and the first book in a new trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, titled Dragons of Deceit, has just released.

If you’ve never read the series before, you might be wondering where to start. I’ll admit, it can be pretty daunting. Here is my own reading order suggestion. Keep in mind, it is my opinion only, and I haven’t listed every single book, rather sticking to the “main storyline” with side suggestions along the way.

First things first: The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Dragons of Winter Night
Dragons of Spring Dawning


These are the basis of the entire world. Without these books, you won’t understand much of what happens after. You won’t be able to fully appreciate the books that take place before (that were nonetheless written later on). This is where you’ll meet some of the best characters ever written. Yup, I mean ever.

Continuing on: The Dragonlance Legends by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Time of the Twins
War of the Twins
Test of the Twins

The Legends trilogy is meant to be read right after the Chronicles, despite later books being published that take place in-between the original Chronicles. Trust me, do not sandwich those books (the Lost Chronicles) in the middle of the original Chronicles trilogy! I promise, there’s a place for them later on.

Connecting the old to the new:

The Second Generation 
by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons of Summer Flame by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Now, at this point, after being emotionally devastated, you have a few choices: you can continue on with the “main storyline”, OR you can explore the world a little bit. There’s so much to see, after all! Keep reading the post to see where I would suggest going next in the main storyline. I’ll add some book suggestions at the bottom of this post for those who want to wander around Krynn a bit.

Fleshing out the original books: The Lost Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons of the Dwarven Depths

Dragons of the Highlord Skies

Dragons of the Hourglass Mage

These technically don’t further the storyline, as they are meant to take place in-between events covered in the earliest books. They make the original story much bigger, though, and we get to see more of my favorite characters, which is always a plus.

Time to see what happens next: Dragons of a New Age trilogy by Jean Rabe

The Dawning of a New Age

The Day of the Tempest

The Eve of the Maelstrom

To be honest, the Jean Rabe books are probably the Dragonlance books that I’ve read the fewest amount of times. However, they do connect what came before with what comes next.

The Dhamon Saga by Jean Rabe:

Downfall

Betrayal

Redemption

Carrying on: The War of Souls trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons of a Fallen Sun

Dragons of a Lost Star

Dragons of a Vanished Moon

Now, it’s on to: The Dark Disciple trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Amber and Ashes

Amber and Iron

Amber and Blood

The first book in a new trilogy, Dragonlance Destinies by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman has just released!

Dragons of Deceit (Dragonlance Destinies book 1)

You could technically start reading Dragonlance here as the authors have given important information and history throughout the book, while avoiding the dreaded info dump (that they were able to do this speaks of their excellent writing abilities). In order to truly appreciate everything that happens, though, I would suggest at least reading the Chronicles and The War of Souls. But that’s just me.

Now, you’re technically more or less caught up on the main storyline. However, here’s where it gets interesting: you’ll notice that this is less than 100+ books. That means you get to pick and choose any side novels that catch your eye. I personally am a huge fan of the Meetings Sextet (which explain how our original companions met), the Preludes, and the Raistlin Chronicles. Honestly, anything written by Margaret Weis or Tracy Hickman is going to be gold. I’m also a big fan of the books written by Douglas Niles and Richard A. Knaak.

Time to gather up your maps, grab your hoopak, and head off for adventures!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas 2021: Extra Ideas

My long list of gift ideas continues! The items on this list don’t necessarily fall into any of the other categories I’ve already talked about (picture books, middle-grade books, and adult fiction) but are all great ideas, if I do say so myself. And I do!

Campaigns and Companions: The Complete Role-Playing Guide for Pets by Andi Ewington and Rhianna Pratchett, illustrated by Calum Alexander Watt


What if your pets could play D&D? And what if they were… kind of jerks about it?

If there are two things all geeks love, it’s roleplaying games, and their pets. So why not fuse the two? It’s time to grab your dice, dust off that character sheet, and let your cat or dog (or guinea pig, or iguana, or budgie) accompany you on an epic adventure! It’ll be great!

… unless you have pets like these. (taken from Amazon)

This book made me laugh out loud. With hilarious dead-on jokes and fantastic artwork, Campaigns and Companions would be a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys TTRPGs (whether they have pets or not). Review here.

Frostbeard Studios has the best bookish candles! I have tried most of them at this point and I haven’t found a scent that I didn’t like. My favorite is Sherlock’s Study…or Winter’s Keep…or Les Cirque de Revés…or…the list keeps going. I highly recommend these candles.

Frostbeard Studio

Goblin by Eric Grissom and Will Perkins

I loved this beautiful graphic novel! The story was so wonderful and the illustrations are amazing. You can read my (slightly) more eloquent rave here.

Smugglers Coffee

You can find the most delightfully nerdy coffee on this site! From D&D-themed, to coffees featuring homages to great movies or books, you can find it all here. Check out Smugglers Coffee!

Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set

I have seen a lot of people asking how to dive into Dungeons and Dragons. While I personally prefer playing in worlds or stories created by the DM (the “Dungeon Master” is the person who runs the game), this is a good jumping off point for anyone who is a little trepidatious about diving into the deep end. It has everything you need for a campaign, including dice. Of course, you’ll end up hooked and rushing out to buy your own dice, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide, but you can always start here.

Amazon

Art Photography by Rich

I have this photograph on a canvas near my favorite reading spot. It’s so pretty and peaceful! I think some of his stock is on sale right now. You can find it on etsy at Art Photography by Rich.

Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons (D&D Book)


Meet Fizban the Fabulous: doddering archmage, unlikely war hero, divine avatar of a dragon-god—and your guide to the mysteries of dragonkind.
 
What is the difference between a red dragon and a gold dragon? What is dragonsight? How does a dragon’s magic impact the world around them? This comprehensive guide provides Dungeon Masters with a rich hoard of tools and information for designing dragon-themed encounters, adventures, and campaigns. Dragonslayers and dragon scholars alike will also appreciate its insight into harnessing the power of dragon magic and options for players to create unique, memorable draconic characters.
 
    Introduces gem dragons to fifth edition!
    Provides Dungeon Masters with tools to craft adventures inspired by dragons, including dragon lair maps and detailed information about 20 different types of dragons
    Adds player character options, including dragon-themed subclasses for monks and rangers, unique draconic ancestries for dragonborn, additional spell options, and a feat
    Presents a complete dragon bestiary and introduces a variety of dragons and dragon-related creatures—including aspects of the dragon gods, dragon minions, and more
    Reveals the story of the First World and the role the dragon gods Bahamut and Tiamat played in its creation and destruction (taken from Amazon)

On the off chance you are unaware, there are three (incredibly obvious) things you should probably know about me:

1. I adore dragons in any form.

2. I quite enjoy roleplaying games, even (especially) when I roll badly.

3. I absolutely love the Dragonlance series. It was my gateway to fantasy, and I have reread the Chronicles every year since I first fell in love with them, much longer ago than I care to admit.

So, much like a certain kender, I had to “borrow” Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. I’m sure Fizban wouldn’t mind.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not particularly well-versed in fifth edition, 3.5 being where I’ve hung my hat the longest. However, a good chunk of what makes books like this great has nothing to do with the edition. It’s a jump-start in creativity. Looking through Fizaban’s Treasury of Dragons gave me several great ideas and got my mind working. In fact, I think I’m ready to attempt to conquer my nerves over being the DM and lead a Dragonlance campaign myself.

The book organizes and breaks down the different types of dragons often found in D&D, organizing stats, suggestions, spells, and more into easy-to-understand pages. Apart from the usual suspects, there are some new additions and some extra details given. Gem dragons! Faerie dragons! Clever, and sometimes funny, adventure hooks! When it comes to Dungeons and Dragons campaign books, there are a few different sorts: the D&D book that stays on the shelf; the trusty manual that is always consulted; and the fun extra that helps elevate a campaign in terms of creativity and enjoyment. Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons falls firmly in the last category.

Something that I found pretty interesting is the examples and tie-ins to other lines owned by Wizards of the Coast. There are examples from Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and even a mention or two from Magic the Gathering. I sometimes found it odd to see how the book tried to tie everything up into one neat little “it’s all related” bow, but the information itself was still cool. Being a huge Dragonlance fan, I was really excited when mentions of Cyan Bloodbane and Fireflash popped up.

Oh, and here’s the best part: lots and lots of Fizban! I loved the little quotes attributed to him throughout the book. They range from advice (“To portray a convincing human, one must embody greed, selfishness, and vigilance. To portray a convincing dragon, one must relax.”) to very important observations (“…When it comes to my pudding, well, you can’t fix perfect.”), and everything in-between. They added fun and charm to an already-enjoyable manual.

I did have one little niggle, which actually had to do with how Fizban was referred to in the book. If you haven’t read the Dragonlance Chronicles yet (I demand to know why!), there’s a huge spoiler! So, for the Dragonlance uninitiated, be aware of that. Or try to be unaware. Or something.

Aside from that, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is excellent. I’d like to apologize in advance to the poor unfortunates who will be stuck playing in my Dragonlance campaign. It’s Fizban’s fault. Truly.


(If you haven’t yet read Dragonlance, and would like to know where to start, you can find my opinion here: Dragonlance Books: Where on Krynn Should You Start?)

Dragonlance Chronicles Giveaway: And the Winners Are…

Image Credit: Larry Elmore
Logo Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Banner Credit: Fantasy Book Nerd

I have had a great time discussing (okay, gushing over) the Dragonlance series this week. Now I get to announce the winners of the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy.

Drumroll please…

And the winners are:

The Swordsmith

and

Tom’s Book of Grudges


Congratulations! Please contact me (wittyandsarcasticbookclub@gmail.com or dm me on Twitter @WS_BOOKCLUB) and I’ll get your prizes to.

Dragonlance Week: Sightings in the Wild

Logo Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Image Credit: Larry Elmore
Banner Credit: Fantasy Book Nerd

It’s been a great week of geeking out over Dragonlance, but it’s almost over. Tomorrow, there’s one last post (an excellent one, with amazing contributions) and the winners of the giveaway will be announced. If you haven’t entered yet, there’s still time: all links are listed below. Before we go, though, I wanted to share some of the fun Dragonlance-themed or inspired goodies that can be found if you know where to look. Enjoy!

Posts you may have missed:

Dragonlance Week: A Celebration
Dragonlance Books- Where on Krynn Should You Start?
Dragonlance Week: The Art of Dragonlance
Dragonlance Week: An Interview with Author Margaret Weis
Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Tanis, Laurana, and Sturm
Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Caramon and Raistlin
Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Tasselhoff, Flint, and Tika
Dragonlance Week: Side Quest! (My Favorite “Side” Novels)
Dragonlance Week: The D&D Connection

Let’s start with a funny one, shall we? Look closely at the top right corner illustration in this kids counting book to see mention of a certain golden-skinned mage. The book is fantastic, by the way.


Lord Soth visits Ravenloft, because why not? I kind of love the crossover idea.

Speaking of crossovers, do we see Fizban anywhere else? Well, that’s a question with an odd answer. Fizban is in the Chronicles (and is owned by Wizards of the Coast). However, there is a certain befuddled wizard named Zifnab (owned by Weis and Hickman) who shows up in their Death Gate Cycle. Surely they aren’t one and the same. After all, it’s common for bearded, crazed wizards who constantly lose their hats to have names that are anagrams of each other. There’s also Zanfib, who shows up in another series by Weis and Hickman (namely Starshield), also no relation. Right?

There is an excellent documentary called Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons. While it’s covering D&D art on a broader scale, there is a large amount of focus on the amazing artwork that has been associated with Dragonlance. There are interviews with Tony Diterlizi, Larry Elmore (Dragonlance artist extraordinaire), Brom, Margaret Weis, and others. There are fun little surprises, and we get to learn things like why Clyde Caldwell illustrates Goldmoon the way he does, and who the elusive Jack Fred really is.

Did you know there’s a Dragonlance board game? Yup. Back at the height of its popularity, Dragonlance showed up in all kinds of interesting ways. Don’t look for it at Walmart. It’s hard to find, and even harder to find for a good price. Keep your eyes open and maybe you’ll find it somewhere unexpected.

I can’t forget to mention the Russian Dragonlance musical. I have not seen it (that’s honestly a bit too much for me), but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk (and chuckle a little) about it. That’s love of a series right there.

It seems to me that, for the most part, adults can be sorted into two categories: tea drinkers and coffee drinkers. For the latter, Smuggler’s Coffee has the coolest coffee for Dragonlance fans. I believe this particular kind is sold out at the moment, but check out their website (Home | Smugglers Coffee). They have some other amazing choices. Personally, I think +1 to Charisma looks both delicious and geekishly fantastic.

Last, but most certainly not least, Death Saves has some epic Dragonlance swag in stock right now. I’m not sure how long it will last, so if you’re feeling the need to show your love of Dragonlance off to the world, now’s the time.

There are other sightings (such as the horribly done cartoon movie) and I know I’m missing many surprise visits from Dragonlance and its characters. Let me know about any sightings you’ve had. And tell me: do you plan to watch the musical?

Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Fizban, Pyrite, Goldmoon, and Riverwind

Throughout a weeklong celebration of Dragonlance, there will be profiles for some of the important characters in the Chronicles, which is the original trilogy, and the books that started it all. So far we’ve discussed Tanis, Laurana, and Stum, Caramon and Raistlin, and Tasselhoff Burfoot, Flint Fireforge and Tika. We’ll finish off our introductions with Fizban, Pyrite, Goldmoon, and Riverwind.

Image credit: Larry Elmore

Fizban:

Lovable old fool, or something far more important? There is definitely more than meets the eye to this character. Ostensibly an aging, absent-minded mage who can never seem to remember the words to his favourite Fireball spell, and is seen at the side of the road arguing with a tree, he is something of a figure of fun. Constantly losing his hat and never remembering his name, Fizban’s relationship with young kender, Tasselhoff Burfoot, is particularly endearing and at times hilarious. He immediately reminded me of Tolkien’s Gandalf in the early stages of The Fellowship of the Ring, a kind of mentor character, who appeared to be just too aged and befuddled to really have any power or significance. What a great way to stay unremarkable and underestimated if you didn’t want people to pay much attention to you. Fizban appears exactly when needed, and haphazardly affects the events all around him, ultimately for the better, although at the time it always feels like he has caused a calamity. In fact events surrounding Fizban always appear to be a little out of control, but without giving away the major spoiler about Fizban, I think I can safely say that there is method in his madness!
-Sue Bavey

More books featuring Fizban:

He shows up here and there. The rest the reader will have to discover on their own.

Image credit: Jeffrey Butler

Pyrite:

Pyrite is introduced to us in Dragons of Spring Dawning, when we are told that an old man and an aged golden dragon are happily napping in the middle of the Plains of Estwilde, apparently oblivious while dragon armies go about their business nearby. He is the longest living golden dragon and swore to Paladine that he would protect Huma back in the days of the Third Dragon War, back when he was a fierce warrior. He has long forgotten his actual name, but Pyrite is what the younger dragons affectionately call him. Pyrite, the mineral is often known as ‘Fool’s Gold’ and since Pyrite the dragon is a golden dragon and accompanies doddery old Fizban, this is a clever name for him.

By the time we meet Pyrite in Dragons of Spring Dawning he is a forgetful, almost toothless, but brave old thing, still thinking that he is in a battle protecting Huma. He mostly lives on oatmeal these days, due to his lack of teeth, he is deaf and his vision is dimming, but he remains intelligent, when mentally present in the here and now. He seems to be a good match for his rider, Fizban. Fizban has to leave Pyrite and makes him into a tiny golden statue which Tasselhof Burfoot is then able to keep in one of his pouches and carry around quite easily, without anyone suspecting he has a dragon on his person!
-Sue Bavey



Image credit: Larry Elmore

Goldmoon:

Goldmoon is a difficult character to talk about. In some ways, she functions as a plot device at the beginning. She is the bearer of a mysterious staff that everyone and their brother is either after, or being accused of hiding. That being said, she ends up being far more, becoming an integral part of the group, as well as being responsible for finding out what happened to the gods of Krynn.

Goldmoon is smart, strong, and compassionate, the last being a trait that can be somewhat lacking in some of the other characters. It allows her to view things from a different perspective. I love seeing a female character that is strong without losing any emotions. While not being an early favorite of mine, I’ve come to appreciate her much more over the years.
-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

More Books Featuring Goldmoon:

Dragons of a New Age trilogy by Jean Rabe

War of Souls trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Image Credit: Clyde Caldwell

Riverwind:

Riverwind is quiet, and he is stoic. He can be hard to get a handle on at first. Once he feels at ease with the group, though, you learn he’s someone that will always be there when needed. Not only that, he provides a window into this world. Things would not normally need explaining between a group of people who have known each other as long as the other companions have, but through Riverwind we learn a lot about how these characters tick. When Riverwind asks Tanis why he is called “half-elf” instead of “half-man” the reader gets a deeper look into Tanis’ psyche. This isn’t something anyone who has known Tanis would ask, so Riverwind adds much to the books just by being there.

We first meet Riverwind at the Inn of the Last Home (which I would love to visit, by the way). He travels with Goldmoon, the love of his life. Their relationship isn’t one I love, to be honest. He spends a good chunk of Dragons of Autumn Twilight being a bit of a jerk to her. Their relationship matures in subsequent books, however, which feels awfully similar to the way relationships can be.
-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

More books featuring Riverwind:

Riverwind the Plainsman

The Magic of Krynn

About the Contributors:

Sue Bavey: Sue is an English mum of two teens living in Massachusetts with husband, kids, a cat, and a bunny. She enjoys reading all kinds of genres, especially fantasy, historical fiction, and thrillers.

Where to find Sue:

Blog: Sue Bavey – Book Blurb

Twitter: @SueBavey




Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: Jodie is the creator of the Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub blog and a contributor to Grimdark Magazine. 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 at :

Blog: https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog/

Twitter: @WS_BOOKCLUB