Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Tasslehoff, Flint,and Tika

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

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, as well as Caramon and Raistlin. Today, let’s learn a little bit about three more beloved characters: Flint Fireforge, Tika Waylan, and Tasselhoff Burfoot.

Image Credit: Clyde Caldwell

Flint Fireforge:

The first time I read the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends trilogies, I immediately followed them up with Kindred Spirits, a book that features Flint heavily. If I didn’t already love Flint, that book would have done the trick. He’s always been there for Tanis, a character who sorely needs a friend.

That caring nature doesn’t stop with Tanis: Flint takes on a grandfatherly role for the entire group. He’s the sort who grumbles incessantly (and don’t you dare try to put him on a horse!), but he’s also the backbone of the group. I love that grumpy old dwarf so much!

-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Image Credit: Valerie Valusek

Flint Fireforge:

Flint is an experienced fighter, with many years under his belt. He can come across as gruff, but this grumpy old man is full of heart. He doesn’t like boats, mind you, and will grumble quite often if he is forced to go in one. Heck he will grumble about many things when one thinks about it. To be fair, it is really quite understandable: he just wants to retire from questing, he’s been away from his home for so long. But when danger presents itself in the end he will have your back, even if he grumbles about it.

Reorx’s Beard! He can’t let these youngsters go off and get themselves into trouble or worse killed can he?

Tanis’s oldest friend,
Tasslehoff’s truest friend and companion
Grumpy as heck with the biggest heart

-I Can Has Books

More Books Featuring Flint Fireforge:

Flint the King

Kindred Spirits

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Tasslehoff Burrfoot:

If you ever come across our little Kender friend Tas, be sure to hold your purses and other goods near you and/or out of sight. Because it might just happen that you “drop” something and he will just happen to pick it up. He’s not a thief, just extremely curious. This curiosity can lead to some interesting and possibly dangerous adventures. So keep your eyes open, he may be tiny but look for blue leggings, they seem to be his favorite item of clothing and he wears them all the time. 
So if you are lucky to befriend him and you ever need a lock opened he’s your guy, there is the possibility of getting into trouble but Tas is braver than you realize because Kender don’t know fear only wonder. 

He is loyal beyond words. A true friend is he.

-I Can Has Books

Image Credit: Artist Unknown

Tasslehoff Burfoot:

Watch your pockets!  And your knapsacks.  And handbags.  And anything not nailed down, locked up, or perched high above.  Wait.  That stuff’s not safe, either.  But Tas promises he’s just borrowing it.

Tasslehoff Burrfoot, loveable Kender.  Tasslehoff Burrfoot, bane of many an existence.  Tasslehoff Burrfoot—one of the most entertaining characters to ever grace the page of a book.  I think what endears me most to Tas is his unconditional caring.  He genuinely enjoys the people with which he keeps company.  He cries along with them, laughs along with them—even when they tell him straight to his face that he’s annoying.  (Looking at you, Flint…)  He’s the master of Taunting.  He heads straightforward into adventure—because you never know what treasures will be ripe for the—borrowing.  He promises he’ll return it someday.  At the end of the day Tas is always there for his friends—be it on purpose or accidental—and having him in the ensemble not only brings some comic relief, but an almost child-like look at life in an increasingly violent and dangerous world.  Sure, there might be Death Knights and dragons chasing them down, tricks and traps around every corner—but that pales in comparison to the treasures Tas is bound to find within every dungeon, cave, or, you know…a street stall selling books that just happen to be right there in the open.  He’ll only hang onto the priceless magic tome for a little while, he swears.  At least, until he finds something more intriguing…

– L.A. Wasielewski

Image credit: Larry Elmore

Tasslehoff Burfoot:

Here’s the thing: Tas is great. I think he often gets viewed as comic relief, a character not to be taken seriously, but that’s a simplification of who he is. Sure, he tends to find the positive (and often funny) side of most situations, he might “acquire” things in dubious ways, and his stories are not necessarily believable, but his very nature allows for the best relationship dynamics. His friendship with a certain gully dwarf is golden, and the way he and Flint interact is one of the best things about the trilogy. Not for nothing, but it’s a Tas scene that makes me bawl each time I read it, despite knowing what’s coming.

All kender are struck by wanderlust at some point, and Tas is no different. In fact, he manages to traverse the length and breadth of Krynn many times throughout the Dragonlance series, appearing in more books than perhaps any of the other companions. I’m always happy to see him. I know I can rely on him to bring a smile and some unexpected wisdom.

-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

More books featuring Tasslehoff Burfoot:

Wanderlust

Kendermore

Image credit: Larry Elmore

Tika Waylan:

I feel like out of all the heroes of the lance, Tika gets the least amount of attention. But you know what? Let’s turn that around. While Tika may not be the strongest amongst the heroes, I certainly view her as one of the bravest. Before war descended on Krynn, Tika grew up at the Inn of the Last Home. As an orphan, Solace and the bar were all she knew. And yet, when the time came down to it, she joined a crew of warriors and magic casters to try and save the world.
Tika may have been the underdog, but she refused to back down. She showed readers that it’s worthwhile to put your whole heart into something. And if you happen to meet her by reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight, you’ll be able to see just what she was able to accomplish.

-Behind the Pages

Image credit: Larry Elmore



Tika Waylan:

Tika plays an important role in the storyline. While she might be viewed as a side character, she is the first character mentioned in the prologue. Deadly with a skillet- er, shield- with a quick tongue and a fiery temper, Tika keeps Caramon’s head above water when he feels like he’s sinking. She’s brave in many ways, and rarely complains.

-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub







More books featuring Tika:

Time of the Twins (Dragonlance Legends book 1)

Dragons of Summer Flame


About the contributors:

Behind the Pages: Hello everyone! My name is Tabitha and I run a review blog called Behind the Pages. I am an avid fantasy reader, but dabble in other genres from time to time. I love writing and talking about books. Dragonlance is my absolute favorite fantasy series and I am so psyched to be a part of Dragonlance week.

Check out my review blog at www.behindthepages.org

You can also follow my random bookish thoughts on my Twitter: @behindthepages1

And if you prefer to follow along with reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5863594-tabitha


I Can Has Books: Carrie (ICanHasBooks) can be found surrounded by tomes as books make up the foundation of who she is and possibly her home ,which is in desperate need of more walls for shelving, because like her name says I can has books? Yes Carrie, yes you can. When she is not reading, she can be found roaming around Azeroth (Wow Classic as her computer currently sucks), walking in graveyards or wandering in the woods. If you would like to follow her around:

Blog:https://icanhasbooks.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/I_can_has_books

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/663898-carrie

IG: https://www.instagram.com/carrieicanhasbooks/

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 at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorBebedora

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LAWasielewski/

Website:  http://www.lawasielewski.com/

Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.com/L-A-Wasielewski/e/B07KNTW444/

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: https://twitter.com/WS_BOOKCLUB




Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Caramon and Raistlin

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

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.

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Caramon Majere:

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

-Rob Edwards

Image Credit: Daniel Horne

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

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Raistlin:

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…

-L.A. Wasielewski

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Raistlin Majere:

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

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Raistlin Majere:

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)

Soulforge

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.

Links:
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:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorBebedora

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LAWasielewski/

Website:  http://www.lawasielewski.com/

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:

www.wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog

Twitter: @WS_BOOKCLUB

Dragonlance Week: Character Profiles- Tanis, Laurana and Sturm

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

Welcome to Dragonlance Week! I’ll be geeking out over my favorite fantasy series, Dragonlance! I’m being joined by authors, bookbloggers, and YouTubers in this weeklong celebration. The world of Dragonlance (Krynn) is huge, but there is a main core of characters, each of them integral to the Chronicles, the trilogy that started it all. There will be character profiles throughout the week, small introductions to some of the major players. We’ll start today with Tanis, Laurana, and Sturm. And away we go!

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Tanis Half-elven:

Tanis is half-elven, born of two worlds, welcomed by neither. His life is defined by this dual identity. He has two different names, two different cultures to navigate, loves two different women, is skilled at fighting yet is loathe to kill, and he is even split between the use of two weapons, sword and bow. A lone wanderer and exile, he finally found a family in the company of fellow outcasts and will fight to protect them.

Tanis could easily be mistaken for a ranger. He is a badass fighter, strong and fast. He shies away from armor in favor of comfortable, efficient clothes fit for long journeys overland, trusting in his combat skills to protect him from enemies, offense being his best defense. His friends defer to his wisdom, and accept him as their de facto leader. He is calm, collected, cunning, and able to make tough decisions, but this same cool demeanor can make him seem aloof and severe, and not always able to see certain truths before his eyes.

Tanis is a true believer in the long lost old gods, and has devoted years of his life in search of a true priest who could speak to them. He believes he has seen many signs they are still there but they still remain hidden to him. As the world seems to crash down all around him, he hopes to find such a holy person soon to guide him to the path that will bring change and help make a brighter future.

-Thomas Howard Riley

Image Credit: Clyde Caldwell

Tanis Half-elven:

Tanis is a contradiction. He’s calm and collected when he needs to be, often taking a leadership role. Inwardly, he’s lost. He is at odds with his heritage: half-elf, half-human, he’s not accepted by either race. He struggles to accept himself and this plays out in his relationships with others.

I love watching how he interacts with the other characters. They’ve all known each other for years (with the exception of Riverwind and Goldmoon), and the others know of Tanis’ inner demons, even if they don’t always understand. It makes for an interesting dynamic, especially when someone finally has it with him and calls him out. Tanis is a character that I both cheer for and become very annoyed by. Basically, he’s incredibly well-developed.

-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

More Books Featuring Tanis:

Kindred Spirits
Tanis, the Shadow Years

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Sturm Brightblade:

Sturm Brightblade was born and raised in Castle Brightblade with his parents Angriff and Ilys. The Brightblade family had been Knights of Solamnia for generations, and it is in that environment that Sturm grew up, wanting one day to join the prestigious ranks the the Knights himself. However fate had a different plan in mind for Sturm (or was it Paladine?). After years of being away from his home, he returns to find his father missing, presumed dead, his castle and lands in ruins and all his family fortune gone. The only possessions he’s able to bring with him are his father’s armour and his family sword: Brightblade itself. Sturm then returns to Solace to find his companions from his younger years who had also been on their own adventures for the last few years. The moment they reunite in an inn by a fire will forever be etched in legend as the moment the War of the Lance began for so many of us. Sturm’s adventures will bring him the best things life has to offer, and the worst ones too. His quality as a leader and his sense of right and wrong make him a truly loyal friend, while his rigid opinions and ideals will sometimes see him at odds with some of his more morally grey companions. Raistlin, for example, had many spirited debates with Sturm, and both of them are quite open about their dislike for each other. Sturm’s abilities in battle make him a terribly fierce opponent for his enemies but a boon to have next to you in a fight.

Sturm has always been one of my favourite companions from the original Dragonlance trilogy. His personality and his core beliefs, his love and loyalty for his friends, and his true gentleman nature, all combined with the pain from his past and his secret shame, make him one of the more interesting and layered companions of the group. Speaking of the group, every time they got into trouble I was fearful for their well-being, but it always reassured me to know Sturm was there to protect them. Of course they are all quite fearsome in their own way, but Sturm always gave me this sense of calm and safety, and somehow I knew things would be okay with him there. Sturm’s story gives us some of the best moments of the original trilogy (in this reader’s humble opinion) and some of the most painful ones too. His relationships with Alhana Starbreeze, or Kitiara Uth Matar, for example, absolutely elevate the emotional connection I feel with his character. When I reminisce about Dragonlance, a lot of elements come to mind, but I always have a burning nostalgia for the story of Sturm Brightblade, as beautiful as a Starjewel, and as tragic as a shattered sun.

-Max, The Book Pyramid

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Sturm Brightblade:

When I was a kid, Sturm was by far my least favorite of the companions. He wasn’t fun like Tas, conniving like Raist, or even the enjoyable kind of crotchety like Flint. No, he was serious, stolid, and all-around stick-in-the-mud kind of crotchety. He was the one unfun adult in an adolescent fantasy story, even down to his tragically uncool dad-mustache.  

Sturm was also depressed, which was not something I had encountered before in the genre.  

But what Strum was not was a quitter. Despite the disdain inflicted upon him, he did not succumb to cynicism or despair. He held on to his ideals. Not because he was blind to the realities of life, but because he recognized the callousness around him and chose the harder, more noble path. And now, as an adult, I realize that this made him the most realistic kind of idealist.  

-Author, M.D. Presley

More Books Featuring Sturm:

Dragons of the Dwarven Depths
The Companions

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Laurana:

Oh, how I love Laurana! She’s one of my favorite characters. Ever. Her character development throughout the books is through the roof. Rarely do I get the pleasure of watching a character grow and mature so much.

Laurana is elven royalty. She’s been brought up thinking the world revolves around her. She is naive and doesn’t understand the ugliness that is going on in the outside world. She joins the story when she chases after her childhood crush-Tanis. She’s forced to grow up quickly, and holy crap, she does! Laurana becomes a kickbutt character (without sacrificing her emotions, which has been a pet peeve of mine with female characters sometimes found in other books). She ends up being strong physically and emotionally. Between her and any Big Bad, my money’s on Laurana. She does things that are far above and beyond what anyone thinks she’s capable of, and she does it without losing her sense of compassion or her faith in the inherent goodness of people. Even in the midst of great hopelessness, Laurana manages to shine like a bright beacon in a dark, wind tossed ocean.

-Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Warning! Here there be dragons and spoilers! If you wish to avoid spoilers, skip the following profile on Laurana.

Image Credit: Larry Elmore

Laurana:

Lauranathalasa Kanan, more commonly known as Laurana, was Princess of the Qualiniesti Elves when we initially meet her.
For me, Laurana gets one of the best character arcs in the Dragonlance Chronicles. When we first meet her, she bears resemblance to the archetypal princess of fairy tales. One obsessed by her childhood infatuation with Tanis Half – Elven. However, after he pretty much scorns her advances, informing her that she is nothing more than a cosseted Elven Princess who has nothing between her ears except for cotton wool (well, he doesn’t exactly tell her that, but he might as well!), she decides that she is going to show him, and become the woman that he believes she should be.
(Hmmm, a bit on type there Laurana!)
However, this doesn’t turn out quite as expected, and she ends up taking a path of self-discovery and finds out more about herself than she initially expected, and we end up with a more self-aware, strong independent woman, who not only manages to discover her own inner strength, but manages to find to the strength to lead others and become the Golden General.
So, how do we get from immature princess with a head full of stars, to one of the most notable characters in the Dragonlance Chronicles.

(Let’s have a look shall we?)

Laurana is the youngest child of the Speaker of the Sun, Solostaran Knana and is the sister of Porthios and Gilthanos. She was taught all the princessly ways of one that befits her station, including ceremonial swordplay and how to telepathically talk to Griffins.Laurana is described as incredibly beautiful, with long golden hair and alabaster skin.

(Again, pretty much on type!)
When her father took in his sister’s child, Tanis Half Elven and brought him to Qualinest, she warmed to him and the two eventually started a relationship with each other. However, this was frowned upon. Well…… not frowned upon exactly, met with more like outright hostility, which resulted in Tanis being told by Gilthanas in no uncertain terms, that this was never going to happen and didn’t he know that his half elven blood was a taint upon society and there was a snowballs chance in hell that he would permit such a thing to continue.

Bye, Bye Tanis!
However, this did not stop Laurana, and when Tanis returns to Qualinest in The Dragons of Autumn Twilight, she pretty much throws herself at him. But things are not as they seem. Whilst out in the world of men, Tanis got himself a new girlfriend, Kitiara (sister of Raistlin & Caramon), who is the exact opposite of Lauranna. Dark haired, brooding and just a little bit evil (a little bit evil? She flies around Krynn with Evil Blizzard’s song Am I evil? playing on the Dragonlance equivalent of a certain fruit based device in the background).

So, when Tanis tells her that his emotions are torn between (Little Miss Am I Evil?) Kitiara, and her, and that if he was going to even consider her she needs to grow up, she decides that she will show him and be exactly the type of woman he wants. However, she learns that she is a pretty strong, caring woman and joins up with Elistan, caring for the refugees from Pax Tharkos.

In the meantime, Tanis sees the relationship growing between Laurana & Elistan, and thinks “Hang on a minute, hang on one cotton picking minute. What’s going on here? And gets a visit by the green eyed monster.

So, when the party splits up in between the first book and Dragons of Winter Night, Laurana finds herself as a leader. (Well, that was unexpected!) Laurana takes charge as the leader of the remaining party and leads a successful attack on Icewall Castle, killing the Dragon Highlord Feal – Thas, and reclaims the Dragon Orb, and also bags a broken dragon Lance.

She then takes a trip to Sancrist to take the dragon orb to the Knights of Solmnia. However, her personal tribulations are not over. On her way to Sancrist, the ship gets sunk by an Ice dragon, gets washed up on Southern Ergoth and happens to bump into her family who are not happy with her, not happy at all. Her father, being the kind, understanding type of bloke that he is, tells her that she is a spoilt, cotton wool headed brat who has brought shame to the family. Nice! These elves need to loosen up a bit!

However, our Laurana is made of sterner stuff than that, and takes this on the chin. She then goes up to where the Knights of Solmnia live, and pretty much gets Sturm his knighthood and also shows everyone else that she is definite leadership material and gets made general of the Whitestone army and wins the pivotal battle at the High Clerists tower. 

She then goes on to win a number of battles and gives the Dragon Army a series of beatings before she is captured by her rival for Tanis’s ministrations, Kitiara and is presented before the dark queen herself, whilst also been bargained off to the death Knight, Lord Soth in the process.

However, she does escape (with Mr Can’t decide, Tanis Half – Elven), and with lots of bits in between, manages to beat the forces of darkness.

So, you can see. That is one pretty good character arc, and when she comes out of this, she is a completely different person, who is not the woman that she started off as.

Loads of stuff follow that, but for this piece, I am going to stick with her initial transformation from moonstruck princess to the Golden General. 
-Fantasy Book Nerd

More Books Featuring Laurana:

Dragons of the Highlord Skies

Dragons of a Fallen Sun

About the Contributors:

Thomas Howard Riley: Thomas Howard Riley is an Epic Fantasy writer who grew up on Fantasy and Sci Fi and decades later still can’t put that stuff down. A former lead guitarist and sword-fighter, he spends most of his time now creating worlds and trying desperately to get them on paper and hopefully into the hands of those brave enough to step into the corridors of his mind. He is obsessed with cats and music and comic books and has little to no shame about any of it. He is frequently on twitter @ornithopteryx, and can sometimes be seen on clear nights when the moon is gibbous. He is the kind of person who stands in the rain on purpose, who goes on vacation just to write, and who always takes at least one book wherever he goes.

The Book Pyramid: Max is a career book seller and long time book reader and collector. His passion for books is only rivaled by his unease at writing about himself in the third person. 
When he is not out camping or playing board games with his family, he can usually be found sitting near a window, wrapped up in a blanket and reading a Fantasy or Mystery novel, with a glass of his latest single malt found and his three-legged cat Peggy nearby.

You can read more of his stuff here:https://thebookpyramid.wordpress.com

Follow him on Twitter at: @BookPyramid

M.D. Presley: Never passing up the opportunity to speak about himself in the third person, M.D. Presley is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. Born and raised in Texas, he spent several years on the East Coast and now waits for the West Coast to shake him loose. His background is in film, and he has worked as a screenwriter as well as manager of coverage readers before turning to fantasy novels and worldbuilding. His favorite words include defenestrate, callipygian, and Algonquin. The fact that monosyllabic is such a long word keeps him up at night.

Website: mdpresley.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/md_presley

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.

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:
https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog/

Twitter: @WS_BOOKCLUB

Dragonlance Week: Interview with Author Margaret Weis

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

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Margaret Weis, the author/coauthor of DRAGON CORSAIRS, the Darksword trilogy, and the Deathgate Cycle, among other novels. She is also the author/coauthor of many Dragonlance books, including the trilogies that started it all: the Chronicles and the Legends, which I love so very much. You could say that Margaret Weis is a literary hero of mine.

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: Hello Ms. Weis (May I call you Margaret?) Before I get to the questions, I want to thank you for being willing to chat a little bit about Dragonlance. I am beyond thrilled!


Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: I am under the impression that the genesis of Dragonlance involved the idea of a world where dragons play a large role. I would definitely say that Dragonlance fits the bill! Can you give me a little bit of detail about the early days of Dragonlance, and how that concept became the Chronicles?

Margaret Weis: “Dragonlance was created by Tracy and Laura Hickman as they were driving from Utah to Wisconsin to go to work for TSR. They wanted a world where knights rode on dragons and they created the first three characters: Tanis, Laurana and Kitiara. When Tracy came to TSR, he described the concept to management and they put him in charge of creating the game. They wanted novels to go with it. I was hired to edit the novels. When I began working with the team, I fell in love with the world and decided that Tracy and I should write the books.”

W&B: I read somewhere that you wrote most (all?) of the books’ fight scenes. My question here is twofold: is that the case? And how did you and Tracy decide who took point on which parts of the novels?

Margaret Weis: “I do the writing and Tracy does the story telling and world building. And answers my innumerable questions!”

W&S: Are there any characters that are “yours” alone? And do any of the characters share your personality traits in any way?

Margaret Weis: “Raistlin was a character that I knew and understood. Tracy was always a fan of Tanis’s. Par-Salian says there is a little of Raistlin in all of us.:)”

W&S: I credit Raistlin with my ongoing love of morally complicated characters. He could be incredibly cruel (especially to Caramon) but was also capable of extreme compassion (as with Bupu). How did you go about writing such a complex and nuanced character?

Margaret Weis: “I knew Raistlin so well. He was very real to me. I understood him and the co-dependent relationship he had with his brother. As Par-Salian says, there’s a little Raistlin in all of us.”

W&S: One of the many wonderful things about Dragonlance, particularly the earlier books, are the barriers that were broken. Dragons of Autumn Twilight mentions Tanis “recognizing the signs of a dark depression that sometimes overwhelmed the knight”, [Sturm]. Sturm was the first character I read about in the fantasy genre who struggled with mental illness, which was hugely significant to me. There are also many instances of discrimination mentioned throughout. Were these deliberate choices and, if so, what was the reasoning behind them?

Margaret Weis: “We wanted to talk about racial discrimination in a way that would be nonthreatening to our readers. As for Sturm and depression, we wrote about him as we felt he would feel, given everything he had undergone.”

W&S: Many people (myself included) cite Dragonlance as their gateway to fantasy. Its impact hasn’t lessened at all over the years. What do you think it is about Dragonlance and the world of Krynn that continue to draw people in?

Margaret Weis: “I think it’s because the books are about middle-class people, not kings or princes or princesses. Our characters had to work for a living. They are ordinary people, drawn into extraordinary situations.”

W&S: Dovetailing off my previous question a bit: I personally find the characters so well-developed and relatable, that rereading the Dragonlance Chronicles feels a lot like coming home. Throughout the books, especially Dragons of Autumn Twilight, there are examples of events that the companions have experienced together that are mentioned in passing, like shared reminiscences. It really cements that sense of people who know each other very well. Was it difficult to convey that sort of relationship? And did you know going in that many of these mentioned instances would often become storylines in other books as the series grew?

Margaret Weis: “We rather hoped they wouldn’t become storylines! We wanted to leave them mysterious and intriguing. But the books sold so well that fans wanted more.”

W&S: The world-building is astounding. How were you and Tracy able to craft a world that is bigger even than what the reader is shown, as well as hint at places that are visited later on?

Margaret Weis: “The world-building credit goes to the DL design team. They needed a world large enough and detailed enough to accommodate twelve adventure modules.”

W&S: Dragonlance is deservedly beloved. What do you think has contributed to its place among fantasy greats?

Margaret Weis: “I’m not sure. We just wanted to tell a story.:)”

W&S: Did you have a favorite part to write?

Margaret Weis: “No, not really. I love writing!”

W&S: How do you feel about returning to the world of Krynn? Is there anything you’d like to say regarding the upcoming releases?

Margaret Weis: “Wonderful returning. And, no, I’m not permitted to talk about it.”

W&S: Are there any authors that you love or that have influenced you in some way?

Margaret Weis: “So many it’s hard to list them! Charles Dickens (particularly Bleak House), Jane Austen, Chaim Potok, Mary Renault, Rex Stout, Alexander Dumas. The list goes on!”

W&S: Finally, I have a bit of funny question. I was concerned that I would be so star-struck that I would only be able to come up with ridiculous questions, such as “Do you prefer waffles or pancakes?” So, now I have to ask. Are you a waffle or pancake person?

Margaret Weis: “Waffles.:)”

About the author:


Margaret Weis was born and raised in Independence, Missouri. She attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, graduating in 1970 with a BA degree in Literature and Creative Writing. In 1983, she moved to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to take a job as book editor at TSR, Inc., producers of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® role-playing game. 


At TSR, Weis became part of the DRAGONLANCE® design team. Created by Tracy Hickman, the Dragonlance world has continued to intrigue fans of both the novel and the game for generations. Hickman and Weis wrote the first of many fantasy novels, the DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES, which are still in print after almost thirty years. The books have sold over twenty-five million copies worldwide. They are thrilled to be writing a new trilogy under the DRAGONLANCE CLASSIC masthead. Watch for the first book in the series to be released in 2022!

Weis is the author/co-author of several other New York Times best-selling series, including DARKSWORD, ROSE OF THE PROHET, STAR OF THE GUARDIANS, THE DEATHGATE CYCLE, and DRAGONSHIPS. Weis and her daughter, Lizz, have written two paranormal romance novels, WARRIOR ANGEL and REBEL ANGEL, published by HarperCollins. She and co-author, Robert Krammes created two trilogies – THE DRAGON BRIGADE and DRAGON CORSAIRS…be sure to check them out! 

Wisconsin is home where Weis lives with her dogs, Tika, Clancy the Hooligan and Joey the Thug. They all enjoy competing in tournaments with their team, the Barkbarians.


A Class Above: D&D Classes in Books – Bards and Magic Users

I thought it would be fun to talk about “classes” in Dungeons and Dragons (and other roleplaying games) and their counterparts in books. A “class” is kind of a set group of skills that is generally used by a specific profession. For example, “fighter class”-boiled down- consists of excelling at some sort of combat.

I put out a call for contributions from the writing community. Both book bloggers and authors answered in a huge way! This post is one of a series because everyone’s contributions were so detailed and genius. You can also check out the posts on fighters and barbarians; paladins, clerics, and druids; and rangers and rogues. Today, I’m digging into the subject of bards and magic users!

Bard: Bards use music and song to either help or hinder. They are often puckish. While they tend to stay more on the sidelines, they are more than capable of holding their own in battle. They do sometimes have some magic spells, but they tend to be illusory as opposed to destructive, and the main focus is on their art.

The Cyberbard shares his thoughts on bards: “Why be the best at everything when you can simply make everyone THINK you are? That seems to be the core of Kvothe, the protagonist of Patrick Rothfuss’s “Kingkiller Chronicles”. A story wrapped in legend, then bespeckled in enigma and mystery… yes, I do believe we have entered Bard country. Kvothe, as a narrator, has been established to be somewhat… unreliable. He embellishes and diminishes in equal parts, all to maximize the artistic value of his tale to the reader. Why let facts get in the way of a ripping tale? The art of story-telling is most certainly the purview of a Bard, and Kvothe is no exception: he is the architect of his own legend. What else defines a classic Bard? Music, for one thing, and Rothfuss (as expressed through Kvothe and other characters) repeatedly reminds the reader that Kvothe is considered one of the great performers/songwriters of his time. Just like a D&D Bard, Kvothe can do just about anything: he can integrate himself convincingly into politics, charm a lock, create masterful artifice, expertly forge documents, and gain mastery over the very elements by speaking their True Names. Importantly, while he can do all these things, there is often someone else who surpasses him in talent for each individual skill. He is a jack of all trades! Did I mention he is also a Monk?
-record skips-
Yes, Kvothe is a MULTICLASS character! At one point in his career, Kvothe The Arcane sought the teachings of the Adem and earned his place among them (albeit as an outsider). There, he became versed in the way of the Lethani, the path of correct action. While his wild nature clashed with their teachings, he learned much from their disciplined way and became a passable combatant (both open-handed and with a sword). If you are a reader looking to play as Kvothe in your first D&D game, start as a (Variant) Human Bard, and take “Alert” as the feat you have for your race. Max out your Charisma and Dexterity scores, and keep average scores for your Strength and Constitution. Keep your Wisdom on the lower side, no more than average… Kvothe is not known for his decision-making skills. Your intelligence should also be fairly high for his various Knowledge skills! Later, as you gain levels, I suggest taking no more than 2 levels of Monk; Kvothe was an initiate, at best. For those veteran D&D players out there: if you’re a fan of Bards and their shenanigans, give the “Kingkiller Chronicles” a try (starting with “The Name of the Wind”). They’re big books, but you’ll want to take your time with them anyhow to appreciate the beautiful prose.”

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”– Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub has words of her own: I was fortunate to recently read a book with an excellent bard who also so happens to be the narrator of the story. I’m talking about Heloise from The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson. She is in the middle of things (which makes her the perfect one to tell the tale, right?), full of sass, and has a rather high opinion of herself. She’s also a blast to read about and is a perfect example of a bard in a more lighthearted setting.

[Referring to Heloise] “…if not the most well-known bard in Erithea (yet), arguably the most talented, and unarguably the cleverest”– Sean Gibson, The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True

There are a few different types of magic users in Dungeons and Dragons (warlocks, sorcerers, and wizards). While there are distinctions, they can be a little hard to explain. So I’ve decided to refer to magic users here as “traditional” and “non-traditional”. Any annoyance that causes is my fault, and not the fault of any of the contributors. Sorry in advance.

Traditional Magic User: This would be where magic schools, patrons, and spell books lay. Time, effort, and a fair amount of patience are what set traditional magic users apart. These would generally fall in the wizard category. The study and acquisition of magic is constant and demanding, but the payoff can be huge. Think fireballs and lightning bolts.

Behind the Pages has excellent examples of a traditional magic user: “Weak and bullied as a child, Raistlin Majere [from the Dragonlance series] risked his life to claim magic as his own. He spends countless hours memorizing spells from his books, and thirsts for power. Magic is everything to him. Even his own brother’s life does not compare to the need to discover new spells. His body is frail, but his mind is sharp. With a few simple gestures and a handful of components, he can obliterate his foes.”

“I can kill with a single word. I can hurl a ball of fire into the midst of my enemies. I rule a squadron of skeletal warriors, who can destroy by touch alone. I can raise a wall of ice to protect those I serve. The invisible is discernible to my eyes. Ordinary magic spells crumble in my presence.” – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Time of the Twins

“Camellia Beauregard from The Belles series by Dhonielle Clayton. As a Belle Camellia can use her magic to manipulate and form a person into the most beautiful being. The limits of power stem from what her clients can endure, and if she pushes too far she will break them. Trained from birth Camellia knows her limits. But then she begins to dig into the past of the Belles. Where the knowledge of dark deeds lays hidden. And with that knowledge comes power and sacrifice.”

“Don’t be fools. You can’t have both. Who wants love when one can be powerful?”-Dhonielle Clayton, The Belles

Ricardo Victoria weighs in: ” I think that for a modern take on Wizards, Harry Dresden would be the best option. He is smart, resourceful, not a squishy wizard but neither a physical fighter (that’s what Murphy or the Knights of the Cross are for). He would have a wide array of spells, ranging from fireballs to necromancy (remember the T-Rex). He also possesses a large collection of items to store or channel magic, from his staff to his ring, passing by his duster and his blasting rod. As A White Knight of the Sidhe, his Con [constitution] stats get a boost. Due to his high Int [intelligence] and Char [charisma] stats, he has managed to accrued a series of allies, and deal with supernatural beings to help deal with those difficult high-level quests. He also has pickpocketing and lock picking skills, proper of an illusionist as part of his cover.

“The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.”-Jim Butcher, Blood Rites (Dresden Files #6)

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub’s thoughts on the matter: I had two examples, but thanks to Behind the Pages’ excellent paragraph on Raistlin, I am left without one (grr!). However, my second example is also a marvelous wizard. I’m talking about Aravia from The Ventifact Colossus by Dorian Hart. Technically, she is a wizard’s apprentice, not a full-blown wizard, but one wouldn’t know it from her skill level. She’s intelligent, dedicated to her magic, and a talented magic user. She gets Horn’s Company out of many a scrape (and into a few of them too).

“Knowledge and its accumulation were the most important things in her life. Knowing that she shared a house with seventy-nine spellbooks that she was forbidden to read was like working in a bakery and being denied the bread.”– Dorian Hart, The Ventifact Colossus

Non-traditional Magic Users: These would be the magic users that literally have magic in the blood. Dragonborn, half-demons, etc. fall smack into this category. So, too, do characters who have made a bargain of some sort to receive their powers. Think: magic users who take shortcuts.

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub weighs in: “Magnus Bane, the delightful self-styled High Warlock of Brooklyn from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series, is the perfect example of a warlock. He comes by his power through his blood-he’s a half demon. He also has a snarky attitude, and has somehow found himself surrounded by a gaggle of demon-hunting teenagers. Awkward.

“’There’s no need to clarify my finger snap,” said Magnus. “The implication was clear in the snap itself.’”– Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Meet the Contributors:

The Cyberbard is a talented blogger who reviews beer and books with equal skill and authority. Check out his blog for the latest on good reads, particularly science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Behind the Pages is an excellent blog and beta reading site, run by the talented Tabitha. Her reviews are very insightful and incredibly well-written. She has excellent taste and never fails to review books that would have snuck under my radar, adding to my already way-too-long list of books to read.

Ricardo Victoria is the author of The Tempest Blades fantasy series. Book one, The Withered King, (which I highly recommend reading), is available now. Book two, The Cursed Titans will be released this summer and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

A Class Above: D&D Classes in Books-Rogues and Rangers

Over the last few days, I’ve been talking about roleplaying classes in books. A “class” is a set of criteria that sort of shows what type of character someone is playing. For example, boiled down, a paladin is a holy warrior. Examples of different Dungeons and Dragons character classes can be found all throughout literature.

When I decided to tackle this subject, I knew that I wouldn’t do it well on my own. Some amazing bloggers and authors offered their expertise as well! Today, I’m talking about rogues and rangers. You can find my posts about fighters and barbarians here, and my post about paladins, clerics, and druids here. Now, on to today’s post!


Rogue: Rogues use stealth, and cunning to defeat their foes or prevail in a situation. Rather than rushing straight into danger, guns blazing (or giant swords decapitating), rogues prefer to use their own unique skill set to accurately assess the situation and shift the odds in their favor. Rogues can be thieves, assassins, or even con artists. If a rogue is around, best to keep your hands on your valuables!

The Irresponsible Reader has a great take on the subject of rogues: “When I sat down to think about rogue characters (they were still called “thieves” when I played, but changing times and all), I was more than a little surprised at how many came to mind. I’m not sure what it says about me that, in almost every genre, I can think of a handful of stellar examples. The character that created this appreciation in me is James “Slippery Jim” Bolivar deGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat.

Thirty-thousand plus years from now, society is almost entirely crimeless. It’s orderly. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. It’s (arguably) boring. There’s some petty crime, but most of the criminals are caught quickly and dealt with by the law.
Then there are what diGriz calls Stainless Steel Rats.

Jim is a thief, a con man, a non-violent criminal (unless he absolutely has to be, and then he can be ruthless). There’s no safe he can’t crack, no lock he can’t pick, no building he can’t get into, no artifact he can’t find a way to walk away with. He’s smooth, he’s witty, he’s charming, he’s…well, roguish. He’s a loving husband (utterly smitten with his wife, actually), a good father (if you grant training his sons to be criminals like he and his wife), and in return for not being in prison for the rest of his life, he’s working to bring down other criminals like him all over the galaxy. Think White Collar or Catch Me If You Can. “

“…At a certain stage the realization strikes through that one must either live outside of society’s bonds or die of absolute boredom. ” – Harry Harrison, The Stainless Steel Rat

Beneath a Thousand Skies explains why she thinks Thren Felhorn from the Shadowdance series by David Dalgish is a great rogue: “Rogues are fun. There’s nothing like rolling high and knowing that your target isn’t going to have a clue you’re there until you introduce them to your dagger, or slipping out of situations with nary a scratch because of evasion. Then there’s the sneaking, intrigue, and outright thievery because what better way is there to get what you want?

That is who Thren Felhorn is, and more. He’s the quintessential rogue- a thief, a survivor, an assassin- and he has a ruthless streak a mile wide when he needs it. He also blurs that line of living in the moment, focusing on the current situation or target, and looking to the future and clawing (and stabbing) his way to the top. There are moments when you’ll love him, moments when you’ll hate him, but you can’t help but be drawn to him and into his world.”

“‘That’s how you gut someone,” Thren whispered into the man’s ear as if he were a dying lover. A twist, a yank, and the sword came free.”-David Dalgish, Cloak and Spider

Behind the Pages has two great examples of rogue characters, starting with Jenks from The Hollow series by Kim Harrison: “Skilled at stealth, at a few inches tall this pixy is the perfect backup on a heist. He can detect electronics and is a pro at putting cameras on loop. While he isn’t a hardened criminal, Jenks has no problem helping his teammates steal for legitimate jobs. He specializes in aerial combat and has the ability to pix his enemies causing itching sores on exposed skin. Most overlook him due to his size, and it makes him the main scout for his party searching out traps and ambushes.”

“You can trust me to keep my word. I always keep my word, promises or threats.”– Kim Harrison, Dead Witch Walking

Behind the Pages also has some thoughts on Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: “After a tragedy left him on the streets, Kaz learned to steal to survive. Money is his motivator and if you offer enough, he will steal whatever your heart’s desire. Danger and consequences hold no bounds for Kaz. No lock can hold him back, and his quick mind enables his team to pull off the most complicated of heists.”

“‘I’m a businessman,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”
 – Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub gets on her soapbox: I love rogues so, so much! I almost always play a rogue of some sort when I’m gaming. In fact, a recent D&D character that I created just happened to be an assassin that had been hired to, um…eliminate a member of the party. The rest of the players were none the wiser. Good times. Everyone else has such great examples of rogues in books, but I want to add a couple more: Both Ardor Benn and Quarrah from The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn fit the bill. Ardor is a charismatic con artist, always a step ahead. He rolls with the punches and is able to think on his feet. Every time I thought one of his cons was going sideways, he’d turn it to his advantage. He would have been right at home planning the heist in Ocean’s Eleven. Then there’s Quarrah, a talented cat burglar (her eyesight is not the greatest, which I think is awesome in a thief). Together, they make for two very unique characters that show the range a roguish character has.

“‘That’s just it,” said Remaught. “I know exactly who you are. Ardor Benn, ruse artist.”
“Extraordinaire,” said Ard.
“Excuse me?” Remaught asked.
“Ardor Benn, ruse artist extraordinaire,” Ard corrected.”

Ranger: Hunters, wilderness survivors, and protectors, rangers are often what stands between civilization and the monsters that live in the wild. They do well in game settings that require treks through the unknown, being more at home outside the comforts of civilization. Like druids, rangers have spells taken from nature’s power. These spells tend to focus on skills that will help with survival and with the fight against what pushes against the boundaries between nature and society.

Kerri McBookNerd has great experience with rangers: “I’ve been playing D&D for a minute and, though I’ve dabbled in almost all of the classes, my tried and true favorite has always been the ranger. I’ve always connected with characters that love to be out in nature and tend to face danger from a respectable distance, lol. Rangers in my mind tend to be outsiders who aren’t 100% comfortable in polite company and gravitate more towards four-legged friends. They’re good at tracking, they’re good at hiding, and they know how to live off the land. And, as anyone who has met one of the rangers I’ve played, they have quite a sarcastic mouth on them! That’s why I think Fie from The Merciful Crow series would make a great ranger! She has lots of experience fending for herself or her clan in the wilderness. She tends to get on with animals (especially cats) more than people. And her wit is sharp enough to draw blood! Though Fie and her clan are outcasts due to prejudices in the kingdom, she generally prefers to stay away from “civilized” society, anyways. She’s got a bit of magic, too, so I’m definitely sensing a sorcerer subclass here. I think she would make a fantastic ranger!”

“Pa’d taught her to watch the starving wolf. When beasts go hungry too long, he’d said, they forget what they ought to fear.”-Margaret Owen, The Merciful Crow

Ricard Victoria has a few good examples of rangers in literature: ” the most obvious option would be Aragorn [from The Lord of the Rings], but I think Jon Snow [from A Song of Ice and Fire] fits the role as well, especially during his time as a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch. He has a combat style of two-weapon fighting, which would help him to wield effectively Long Claw. His armor could be considered light. He also has an Animal Companion in Ghost. The Wild Empathy ability would account for his nascent warging powers (in a low-level campaign anyways). His time with the Wildlings would have given him good tracking skills as well as the endurance proper of a ranger. Talking about the Wildings, one could argue that they would be his Favored Enemy, but I think the White Walkers make for a better Favored Enemy. He would have also as part of his background (and this is a spoiler), some draconic blood (you know, because of who he really is son of). Longclaw would be a bastard sword with a Keen Edge enhancement that could evolve into a Vorpal sword. Jon could have high stats in Con, Char, and Dexterity. Decent intelligence and wisdom.”

Yet even so, Jon Snow was not sorry he had come. There were wonders here as well. He had seen sunlight flashing on icy thin waterfalls as they plunged over the lips of sheer stone cliffs, and a mountain meadow full of autumn wildflowers, blue coldsnaps and bright scarlet frostfires and stands of piper’s grass in russet and gold. He had peered down ravines so deep and black they seemed certain to end in some hell, and he had ridden his garron over a wind-eaten bridge of natural stone with nothing but sky to either side. Eagles nested in the heights and came down to hunt the valleys, circling effortlessly on great blue-grey wings that seemed almost part of the sky.”– George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub gives her thoughts on rangers: Personally, I think Raven from The Black Company by Glen Cook is a good example of a ranger. Yes, he prefers to use a sharp knife over a bow (which is usually the ranger’s weapon of choice), but he can use a bow with the best of them. He’s a great tracker and even knows a little bit of magic.

“I can laugh at peasants and townies chained all their lives to a tiny corner of the earth while I roam its face and see its wonders, but when I go down, there will be no child to carry my name, no family to mourn me save my comrades, no one to remember, no one to raise a marker over my cold bit of ground.”– Glen Cook, Shadows Linger

Meet the Contributors:

The Irresponsible Reader is one of my very favorite blogs. Covering a wide variety of genres from comics through biographies, the reviews on this blog are detailed and interesting. The Irresponsible Reader is responsible (ha!) for many additions to my “to be read” list.

Beneath a Thousand Skies talks about all things nerdy on her blog, including books and Dungeons and Dragons. A perfect haven for those with an eye toward imaginative books, Beneath a Thousand Skies is definitely a blog to follow.

Behind the Pages is an excellent blog and beta reading site, run by the talented Tabitha. Her reviews are very insightful and incredibly well-written. She has excellent taste and never fails to review books that would have snuck under my radar, adding to my already way-too-long list of books to read.

Kerri McBookNerd is a great blogger. She’s my go-to for Young Adult Fantasy reviews (her other reviews are just as great)! Her reviews are creative and unique. You can’t go wrong, following her blog. I guarantee you’ll find some new gems to check out.

Ricardo Victoria is the author of The Tempest Blades fantasy series. Book one, The Withered King, (which I highly recommend reading), is available now. Book two, The Cursed Titans will be released this summer and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

A Class Above: D&D Classes in Books- Paladins, Clerics, and Druids

I had the idea to discuss Dungeons and Dragons classes (which is very similar to the class system in most roleplaying games) and its similarity to characters in books. Basically, a “class” is a set group of skills that is generally used by a specific profession. For example, “fighter class” consists of excelling at some sort of combat.

I asked for contributions from book bloggers and authors and what they came up with is brilliant. What had started out as a single post has turned into a few, with each post discussing a different set of classes. You can find my post on Fighters and Barbarians here. Today, let’s talk about paladins, clerics, and druids. Here we go!

Paladin: Take a fighter and add a fair dose of religious fervor, a strong code of conduct, and an oath to fulfill, and you’ve got the general idea. Paladins get a power boost from either their god or their commitment to their cause. Boiled down: holy warrior. Or, if you’re feeling saucy, an unholy warrior.

I’m happy to have The Swordsmith joining in the conversation :

“Firstly, I am delighted to be contributing to the Witty and Sarcastic Book club for the first time!  It’s an amazing blog that I follow and when Jodie put out this interesting call, I just knew that I wanted to be a part of this post.

I have a feeling this is going to be a great post. Jodie’s request was to match a character from fiction to a Dungeons and Dragons class and I had so many ideas!  I settled on something though, it seemed so bizarre but then thinking about it I just had to write about Murderbot from the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells as a Paladin!

Go with me on this one as Paladins are a holy warrior class in D&D, while Murderbot isn’t the major comparison is that it always tries to do the right thing.  This is an important part of the books and the character, this part of the character drew comparisons to the Paladin class. It reminded me of one cool dude I am playing D&D with at the moment and guess what?  He’s playing as a Paladin.

Doing the right thing or what you perceive to be the right thing is tough, Paladin’s can have a very hard time in D&D and Murderbot..well the character is an interesting one because it fights for what it believes, for it believes to be doing the right thing when it does.  I can’t say too much without spoilers but I just knew that the character connotations were there.

Thank you to Jodie for allowing me to let loose my love of Murderbot and comparing it to a Paladin class, enjoy the rest of the post!”


Author Ricardo Victoria also has some thoughts on the paladin class: “This class gets a lot of flak due to its apparent rigidity, but I blame that more on the player (no offense) than on the class, as not many people know or like or can play a Lawful Good character without trying to make it a cardboard cutout. That’s why I think the best example of how a Paladin should be is Sgt. Carrot from Discworld. Strong as an ox? Check? Abides by the Law? Check. Charismatic? Check. Compassionate? Check. Innocent? Check. Can pound you to an inch of your life if you hurt an innocent? For sure. Carrot proves that a Paladin can abide by the spirit of the rule, rather than the letter, can be courteous yet dangerous, flexible when needed, and smart in an unexpected way, especially with clever interpretations of the law. But his most important trait is that he could have the power (it’s somewhat of a secret that he is the true heir to the crown of Ankh-Morpok, and he knows that). The thing is he doesn’t want it. He just wants to protect the innocent and then go home, even if he is pretty much married to his job. That, for me, is how a paladin should be played.”

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub, on paladins: “For me, I picture Sir Gawain as the epitome of a holy warrior. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, he is very concerned with honor and adhering to the strict code he’s sworn to uphold. There are themes regarding service to the helpless, as well as to God. His sense of morality and his code of conduct guide him in every aspect of his life.



Cleric: More than a healer, but not quite a paladin, clerics are servants of their deities. Clerics have the ability to heal as well as possibly harm through magical means granted by their god. However, unlike a priest or acolyte (who usually stay in a town or temple), clerics take their skills to the frontlines, helping those such as paladins in their holy cause.

Geeky Galaxy has some great thoughts on clerics: “Trudi Canavan has a great many series that covers every angle of character archetypes, from rogues to magicians, and the one I’m going to talk about a little more, clerics. Age of the Five #1 is called Priestess of the White and features all manner of religious icons, from cults, to gods and of course, clerics. This series is perfect if you love a rich depth to your fantasy worlds with a particular focus on religion and politics. It’s perfect for the sort of person who wants to get lost in a book for hours at a time!


Beneath a Thousand Skies
shares her thoughts on clerics: “Anyone who’s ever played D&D has likely has the cleric call them out on their nonsense at least once. The long-suffering cleric is part healer, part priestess/priest, part counsellor, and often (but not always0 the common sense of the party. They can also pack quite a punch when they want to.

For me, that is Gilda from the Godblind trilogy in a nutshell. In many ways, she’s central to the story and plays a pivotal role in the lives and stories of many of the characters. Yet she’s also an unsung hero, and she is a perfect example of someone straddling that line between priestess, counsellor, and healer. She might not have magic, but she has powe, heart, and that all-important common sense and she has a mean right hook when needed (just ask Lanta).”

“There’s little I understand about your religion, about why you would choose a life of fear and of pain over a world of life and light and beauty and an afterlife of joy and oneness. Because life is hard, aye, but it isn’t brutal. Brutal’s what we do to each other. Hard is what the seasons do to us.”-Anna Stephens, Darksoul

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub says: Clerics are probably the class that I have the least experience with. However, Melisandre from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series comes to mind. Her deity is called the Lord of Light and, to be honest, she really weirded me out.


Druid: Druids are representative of nature. They get their power- healing, magical spells, etc.- from either the land itself or from a nature deity. They can even shift into an animal form.

I love Bees and Books’ take on druids: “Were the Animorphs a huge part of your childhood? Those tattered, much loved paperbacks certainly were a staple in all of the school libraries I visited.
Prepare yourselves for a Big Brain moment but the Animorphs were just like Druids in D&D. Take the primary power of an Animorph: the ability to morph into a creature they have seen and touched, thereby acquiring the DNA of the creature permanently. The Animorph in question then can use that shape for morphing at any time, though they are limited to the time period they can stay in shift otherwise they may become stuck as that creature. The Animorph power (given to them by the alien Andalites) is similar to a class feature of the D&D Druid, namely the Wildshape feature. Wildshape allows Druids to transform into a creature that they have seen–as opposed to touch/acquire DNA from. This mechanic limits Druids to only creatures from their region, or that they see while on their adventures at the DM’s discretion. Additionally, there are limitations that lift over time as the Druid levels up such as not being able to transform into flying or swimming creatures, and the difficulty rating that Druids can transform up to. It’s relatively easy to transform into a rat, but it takes a while before a Druid can be a giant eagle. These limitations for both Druids and Animorphs mean that they can really only transform into creatures they have access to, and have to be clever when thinking about what to transform into for fighting and other adventures.
More experienced Druids also gain additional features, depending on their Druid Circle, that can boost their abilities while in Wildshape, increase the time they can be shifted, or broaden the options for what they can shift into. Similarly, as the Animorphs grow and learn their abilities in the books they become more proficient in shifting, and even find ways around tricky situations such as getting stuck in shift.”



Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub weighs in: Allanon from the Shanara series by Terry Brooks is a pretty good example of a typical druid.



Meet the contributors:

The Swordsmith is a wonderful blog focusing on fantasy literature. The posts are full of detail and so well-written! I highly suggest checking out The Swordsmith anytime you’re looking for a great new book to check out. You won’t be sorry!

Ricardo Victoria is the author of The Tempest Blades fantasy series. Book one, The Withered King, (which I highly recommend reading), is available now. Book two, The Cursed Titans will be released this summer and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Beneath a Thousand Skies talks about all things nerdy on her blog, including books and Dungeons and Dragons. A perfect haven for those with an eye toward imaginative books, Beneath a Thousand Skies is definitely a blog to follow.

Geeky Galaxy is a great blog that covers a bit of everything, from book reviews to thoughts on book-to-movie adaptations. Her content is always fun to read, and her writer’s voice is a fantastic!

Bees and Books is a delightful blog, and one of my go-to’s for fantasy opinions. Bees and Books’ posts are so unique and always give me something to mull over.





Books with Relationships for People who Don’t Love Love

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of most romances in books. I don’t read the romance genre anyway, but even in other genres, romance isn’t my thing. Every now and again I’ll read a book with a loving relationship that doesn’t make me want to roll my eyes or giggle like a little kid. By loving relationship, I’m thinking more than just the romantic kind. It could be a loving family dynamic, or even a relationship with good friends. Anyway, on a day when love is in the air (or something like that), here are a few books with love in them that I…LOVE.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place―and realizing that family is yours.(taken from Amazon)

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune has the sweetest relationships! While there is a bit of a love story going on, it’s the found family aspect that I absolutely adore. Add to the fact that Linus also learns to love himself a little in this wonderful novel, and it has all the makings of a perfect book featuring love. Find my review here.

Mammy” is what Irish children call their mothers and The Mammy is Agnes Browne—a widow struggling to raise seven children in a North Dublin neighborhood in the 1960s. Popular Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll chronicles the comic misadventures of this large and lively family with raw humor and great affection. Forced to be mother, father, and referee to her battling clan, the ever-resourceful Agnes Browne occasionally finds a spare moment to trade gossip and quips with her best pal Marion Monks (alias “The Kaiser”) and even finds herself pursued by the amorous Frenchman who runs the local pizza parlor.Like the novels of Roddy Doyle, The Mammy features pitch-perfect dialogue, lightning wit, and a host of colorful characters. Earthy and exuberant, the novel brilliantly captures the brash energy and cheerful irreverence of working-class Irish life.(taken from Amazon)

The Mammy by Brendan O’ Carroll has the most fun family dynamic! A little dysfunction, a dash of zaniness, and a whole lot of love make this series a great one. Again, the book doesn’t have the typical romancy type of relationship, but it’s fantastic to read.

Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her debut Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way to Cairo, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archeological site run by the Emerson brothers-the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter. Soon their little party is increased by one-one mummy that is, and a singularly lively example of the species.

Strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn. Now Amelia finds herself up against an unknown enemy-and perilous forces that threaten to make her first Egyptian trip also her last . . .(taken from Amazon)

I love this series so much! This actually has a romantic relationship that I enjoy reading about, one between Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson. She’s stubborn and nosy, and he’s cantankerous. This whole series is a blast and the relationship between these two characters is a big part of that.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance. (taken from Amazon)

I’m pretty sure this is the most “traditional relationship” on this list. The writing in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is brilliant, including that of the romance. It’s far from mushy, or angsty. I loved everything about this book, romance included.

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart, so he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. When they are thirteen years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave their sleepy town and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and uncover who they truly are. (taken from Amazon)

The relationship between the boys and their mom is perfect in The Oddmire: Changeling! When the twins, Tinn and Cole, go into the Wild Wood, their mom goes charging in after them as any loving mom would. Being a mom of boys myself, I could totally relate. It’s a great book in what is shaping out to be an awesome series. You can find my review for The Oddmire: Changeling here.

So, here you have it. Five books that focus on loving relationships that are more than worth the read. What books do you enjoy that feature love in some form?

Dragonlance Buddy Read: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

In case you’re not yet sick of hearing me rave about it, let me just say: I love Dragonlance! The Dragonlance Chronicles- comprised of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning– were my gateway to adult fantasy. I remember opening Dragons of Autumn Twilight for the first time (longer ago than I care to admit) and knowing from page one that what I held in my hands was special. I was immediately drawn into a world of magic, of misfits coming together to accomplish something bigger than themselves, and of dragons. Oh, the dragons! I devoured the Chronicles. Then, I read every other Dragonlance book that had been published at that point.

I still find myself returning to the world of Krynn at least once a year, opening those almost-memorized pages of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Rereading that trilogy is like seeing an old friend, one who’s stuck with you through thick and thin.

This year’s reread is doubly special: I got to participate in a buddy read! Myself, another Dragonlance veteran, and two new Dragonlance readers all got together and dove right into Dragons of Autumn Twilight. It was wonderful getting new perspectives on the characters (Fizan is a favorite! People are divided on Raistlin), and chatting about all things Dragonlance.

My thoughts remain pretty much the same (I’m boring like that): Laurana grows in leaps and bounds between books and is still one of my favorites for that reason (plus, she does some pretty hardcore things at later parts). Raistlin is still flat-out awesome, and I credit him for my love of complicated, morally ambiguous characters. Also, I want to travel to the Inn of the Last Home for some of Otik’s Spiced Potatoes. However, here’s the fun part: what those who read with me thought!

Sue’s Musings:

Dragons of Autumn Twilight is the first book in a trilogy set in the land of Krynn. It is pure fantasy escapism. A light and easy read. I would recommend this book to fans of epic fantasy who like comical characters and unlikely situations. There are dragons too and strong friendship between the band of unlikely friends embarking on a journey to find out what’s happening ‘up north’ – rumours of war. The land of Krynn is being overrun by hoards of ‘draconians’ in thrall to the dragon overlord Verminaard and Pyro, the dragon he rides. The main characters are all very different and fully realized, such that you know how each of them will react in each situation they are faced with. The world building is descriptive and well done. I will definitely read the other books in this trilogy.”

Fantasy Book Nerd:

“The day was hot as I stood waiting for the taxi. How would I feel reading a book that I had loved over twenty five years ago? Would I still feel the same? Would that spark still be there? Would I feel the same as I flipped through the pages? Would I still be able to devour the book as I had once done, many years ago.

“It’ll be fine” Jodie from W&SBookclub said, smiling warmly. “I read it all the time, I still love it!”

Sue from Sue’s Musings looked at the copy that she held in her hands, “It’s got dragons in. And there’s a snarky wizard! What’s not to love?”

Carrie, who had recently joined the buddy read from her website in Canada, icanhasbooks, glanced nervously at the sky “Do you think it’s going to snow? Those clouds look menacing to me! I can tell you that they are snow clouds. Look that one is even shaped like a snowflake!”

I turned swiftly to them all, trying to keep my attention focussed on the slowly moving traffic. “It’s not that, it’s just I can’t remember a thing about it. I know that it is good and I really enjoyed it. It’s just that….” I shrugged my shoulders.

“Well, you know!” Carrie rolled her eyes “ I don’t know what you’re worried about. It’s only a book! I mean it’s not like you have the same problems as me. I mean look at them clouds! I’m going to be snowed in soon. Half an hour and this place will be covered, covered I tell you!” She held up the new book that she had just bought at the local bookshop. “Well, at least you’ll keep me entertained for a while!”

Shortly afterwards, after discussing hair and laughing when we all had all joked about what the characters would look like as Goths in the Twitter message room, I settled down with my customary cup of tea and flicked open the first page. It wasn’t long before I was gripped by the story of the book. Laughing at the antics that Tasselhoff Burrfoot got up to, accidentally pinching everything that wasn’t nailed down. I loved the fact that it moved from one adventure to another, barely stopping for Tanis’s party to get something to eat. I mean this book had all sorts going for it, Dragons, Elves, Unicorns, ghosts all sorts. It was great, everytime I read it, I couldn’t wait to get back to twitter and tell everyone about it. If we had any questions, Jodie could come up with an answer just like that. Sue and Carrie told me all sorts of stuff. Sue even showed us a video on youtube about goths getting dressed. And Carrie was an old goth too. Jodie showed us some pictures of her new hair. Everyone complimented her on how great she looked. Soon, I was getting to the end of the book. I reflected on what I had read. I needn’t have worried about revisiting the book, it was a fantastic read. I think, looking back on it, it’s a bit of an ensemble piece with each of the characters getting their time in the spotlight. My favorites were the sulky, snarky wizard, Raistlin. But then there was Fizban, the mad old wizard who can never remember the fireball spell and does not get along with trees. So, we all got together after finishing. Everyone giving their thoughts about their own favourite parts of the book and decided. We can’t wait to read the next part of the trilogy!”

I Can Has Books:

“Welcome to the world of Krynn…. It has been 5 years since our characters have last seen one an other, vowing to meet again at the Inn of the Last Home in Solace. All having their own stories and secrets to keep, some seem different, changed. Little did they know that after all this time they would be adventuring together, finding new friendships and enemy’s along they way. Stars are missing, and dragons, children’s tales are coming to life. Things that haven’t been seen since before the cataclysm. A magic staff and corrupted clerics. Has the Queen of Darkness returned? So if you are dork like myself you will instantly love Dragons of Autumn Twilight. If you like doing quests, if you like grumpy dwarves, a kender who will make you giggle, but do watch your purse around them. Cheesy songs that are beautiful regardless. You will enjoy this. If you love elves, magic, adventure, mystery, monsters, dragons, friendship and found family, you will enjoy this. D&D, RPG’s you will enjoy this. Dragonlance in my mind, was world that I new I had to visit to someday, it always screamed to me as being a staple in not only the genre of fantasy but in the overall nerd/dork/geekdoms. This book has been sitting on my shelf for many a year. And sometime during 2020 I kept on placing on each monthly tbr to only have it collecting more dust, (and no there were no draconian killed on top of it) Then thanks to Twitter and my scrolling I somehow ended in a buddy read with some great folk… I look forward to my next adventure. To learn more secrets, to see if my thoughts on certain characters are right. Also to see what else Flint complains about.”

We will be continuing our buddy read with Dragons of Winter Night, book two in the Dragonlance Chronicles. And it is the perfect time to be reading these books because it was announced today that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are returning to the world of Krynn with a new triliogy! To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. If you haven’t yet experienced the world of Dragonlance, now is the time. Happy reading!

The Tropening: Book Tropes that I love (or hate)

“Colloquially, people use the term trope to mean recognizable elements of storytelling that audiences associate with specific genres. Like clichés, tropes act as storytelling shorthand and can apply to both plot lines and character types.“- SuperSummary.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about things I love (or hate) to see in books. There are clichés that I see as overdone and lacking, but there are also some that I’d love to see more of. I’m kind of changeable that way. It’s always just a matter of preference, of course, but here are some that I love and some that I’m sick to death of. That being said, there are exceptions to all of these for me. As long as the trope is well written, I’m flexible.

“I’m immortal!“- Authors spend a ton of time on their characters, so of course it’s hard to say goodbye. However, when a character is being constantly put into situations that they shouldn’t survive, and they survive anyway, it lessens the stakes of a book. If you don’t want to kill your character (completely understandable), maybe don’t chuck them into the depths of hell, light them on fire, and have a squad of rabid Jello Jigglers attack them.

On the flipside- I love when a character is brought back from the death, or the brink of death (once!) and it changes either them or another character irreversibly. Used correctly, that makes for some major character development. An author that knows when to save a character and when to let go is awesome.

Mental illness as a criminal motive- I’ve read a few mysteries/thrillers in the past year where the villain’s sole motive was that they were “psychotic” or had a mental illness of some sort. To me, that smacks of lazy writing, not to mention that it perpetrates a harmful stereotype. People with mental illnesses are not automatically dangerous or violent. Dovetailing off of this: I would love it if authors wouldn’t use suicide as revenge. Just stop.

On the flipside- I love when mental illness is represented accurately and well. So many people struggle with mental illness of some sort (myself included) that it is a breath of fresh air to see it written as something other than an excuse for horrible actions. Some authors that have done this amazingly are Ricardo Victoria, author of The Withered King, and Heidi Heilig, author of For a Muse of Fire.

Love Triangles (octagons, hexagons, or other shapes)– Of course I have to mention this. I can’t stand one person mentally making a pro/con list regarding which of their wanna-be lovers is best. Let me say something: if you’re waiting with bated breath for someone to choose you over ye random rival, just walk away. No one should be compared to someone else like that. And Wishy Washy obviously isn’t mature enough to be in a relationship anyway.

On the flipside- I love seeing a friendship grow into something more. Not as a main plot point; I think it’s pretty well established that I’m crotchety regarding literary romance. But seeing two characters who respect each other and enjoy spending time together become closer is pretty great.

One person against the world- I can’t stand it when a character immediately loses every single person they care about and it becomes the catalyst to take on the world. Alone. That’s boring. Give me a tragic backstory, sure. I’ll even take a whole slew of corpses left behind, but give the character someone to interact with.

On the flipside- If the main character picks up allies/co-workers/found family after losing someone or even on the way to take bloody revenge for losses, I’m totally good with that. I just want to have a chance for that character to grow.

The dreaded info dump- I’m not a “here it all is at once” kinda girl. I’ll either lose interest or miss something incredibly important. My brain just doesn’t work well with a ton of new information all at once.

On the flipside- I absolutely love it when information is shared naturally throughout a book, especially when a world is fully developed. I love reading about different histories and mythologies in fantasy or science fiction books, I just don’t want all the information to be chunked at me at once.

Anyway, there’s really no point to this post, except as a way to generate conversation. What do you think? What are some tropes that you love? What about tropes you hate?