I have a confession: I am not a monogamous reader. I usually read multiple books at the same time. Lately, I’ve been rereading my Dragonlance books while also reading new books. You can read my thoughts on my latest reread of Kindred Spirits here.
“…Weis and Hickman are like kender and bad pennies-they keep turning up. And so here they are again, all set to tell us about the wonderful things that are happening in Krynn”. -Forward by…Fizban the Fabulous?
The Second Generation is set after the end of the War of Lance which is when the events from the Dragonlance Chronicles (the original trilogy) takes place. An uneasy peace exists, but it’s much more tenuous than people want to believe. A new generation of heroes needs to step up. This book of short stories introduces the children of characters from the Chronicles. They are not their parents and they think and act differently. The writing also flows differently. That isn’t a bad thing. The tone is similar, but it needs to be at least a little different because this is a different cast of characters.
This book is actually a grouping of five novellas by the masters of Dragonlance. It’s an odd one to review since a few of the novellas have been elsewhere as well. It’s good to see them gathered together with other stories about the children of the Heroes of the Lance, though, and it does form a bridge to the next part in Dragonlance’s history.
I’m always a little wishy-washy on books of short stories or novella collections. There are usually some that I just don’t like as much as others. Unfortunately, that is the case with The Second Generation, although I do think it’s a strong connection point between the characters from the original series and the characters that take center stage in the next book.
I do wonder if some of my not quite glowing reaction to a few of these novellas has to do with the fact that I love the original characters so much. Part of me struggled with these new additions at first. That being said, the characters themselves have new and interesting stories to tell.
“Kitiara’s Son” is one of my favorites from this book. Of all the book characters who lack parenting capability, she’d be at the top of my list. She has a son that is first discovered when his adopted mother comes to Tanis and Caramon for help. He is about to take the vows to become a knight of Takhisis- an evil order of knighthood that has recently sprung up. His mom hopes that Caramon and Tanis can convince him to not give his soul to their evil cause.
There are a few things I really enjoy about this story. One of them is the identity of the father. It isn’t who most people who have read the Chronicles would first expect. Another thing I love about this one is the personality of Kitara’s son, Steel. He’s very conflicted, although he tries not to show it. What follows is more of a story about choices and shades of gray than one of action (although there’s action too, of course).
“Raistlin’s Daughter” is a myth about Raistlin having a daughter. It’s not my favorite, possibly because I feel that it doesn’t fit his character, possibly because the tone seems a little…off. Whatever the reason, while I don’t particularly like the story, I do feel that it is the weakest in the collection. It isn’t bad, it’s just not fantastic. Moving on.
“Wanna Bet” is a rip-roaring tale of adventure, featuring Caramon’s three sons and an ill-fated errand. This is more funny than anything, although any story that involves the Graygem of Gargoth adds a bit to the lore behind Krynn’s creation. This is one of the novellas that appears elsewhere and it also feels most like a side quest from the original trilogy to me. I think it’s the addition of some very bad choices, a character who is not what he seems, and things that go so wrong that they almost go right.
“The Legacy” also focuses on Caramon’s three sons. This time it’s the youngest, Palin, who takes center stage. Unlike his war-like brothers, he’s interested in magic. He’s just enough like Raistlin to scare and worry his father. This story talks about his trip to the Tower of Sorcery and what transpires. I love this one! While it could be the connection to Raistlin, I think it’s a lot more about what it shows of Caramon (and the other original Heroes of the Lance). There’s a reluctance from Caramon to let his kids grow up, a fear of the horrors in the world and a desperate desire to protect his kids. Authors Weis and Hickman perfectly captured the struggles loving parents face every day. I feel for Caramon.
At the same time, it’s a story about the new generation of heroes coming into their own, about how what came before will play into their characters, and an introduction to the next part of the story. It’s masterfully told.
Lastly, there’s “The Sacrifice”, about Tanis’ and Laurana’s son, Gilthas. He reminds me so much of the protagonist of The Scarlet Pimpernel (or Batman, in a less Gotham-y sense). He is a weak fop who lazes around, doing nothing of importance. Except that’s not true at all. Underneath his metaphorical mask is an intelligent mind and a strong will. Gilthas resents his parents for being overprotective and wishes to help. Unfortunately, things don’t go as hoped and he ends up in a sticky situation. It also proves to be a break between himself and Tanis. This story lends a good explanation of what comes next in Krynn’s timeline. It’s probably the one that matters most as far as setting up the next few Dragonlance books. As far as the novellas go, it really does seem the center point of The Second Generation.
This is a well-written side book and an engaging one. There are a few inconsistencies between some of the tales told here and the events from the original story, but the reason for that is perfectly explained in the forward and actually adds a sense of fun and adventure. While I will always prefer the original companions and the Chronicles, this is a strong introduction to the new cast of big players, the ones who get swept up into events bigger than themselves. Also, major points for the addition of the Knight of Takhisis stat blocks!
It’s definitely worth reading if you want to know more about the world and get a good idea of the direction the series will take after the War of the Lance.