Saturday, June 18, 2016

Shenanigans Continued: Dragons of Winter Night

Would you just look at these goofballs? Two of them aren't even facing the right
direction to fight a dragon!
My research into the D&D world and lore continues with the second volume of the Dragonlance Chronicles! Last time, our reticent adventurers faced one dragon, summoned two and a half Deus ex Machinas, and seriously considered putting on their big boy/girl pants before getting to the business of saving the world.

Two and... one half? You hadn't mentioned this before!
Don't worry— the other half shows up in Dragons of Winter Night. I'm not certain what possessed authors Weiss and Hickman to go and kill three separate characters in their previous book, then immediately resurrect two of them. However, I can tell you that it was damn obvious the third one was either not dead or wouldn't stay dead long. And I was right— but this time I was pleased at the "resurrection." Fizban the wizard is a weird and sometimes bumbling character, but he's my favorite and I was happy to see him again— despite receiving ZERO explanation as to how or why he shows up again. One of the other characters literally just stumbles across him midway through the book— he was taking a nap in an out of the way corner of a dragon's lair— and they have this "moment."

Like a sweet and romantic moment?
Nope! It ran a little something like this:
Tas: F-Fizban!
Fizban: WHERE?! ...wait, isn't he dead?
Tas: That's what I thought! I saw you fall in a flurry of chicken feathers!
Fizban: Chicken feathers? How dreadful!
Tas: I wanted to go back and find your body, but was assured there was no point— but your memorial was beautiful!
Fizban: I didn't realize I'd kicked the bucket... Was there a twenty-one gun salute?
Tas: What's a gun?

It went on like that for a few pages. Yes, it made that much sense. What this series does unexpectedly well is ridiculously random little details of the "what the fuck?" variety. Those are the best parts of the story, and they are not the main ones. I believe these are the unplanned, role play portions of the book. A group of weirdos got together, had fun, and this series is the result.

So it still feels like a series of dice rolls gone right?
That feeling is drastically reduced in Dragons of Winter Night. The story flows considerably smoother, even though our heroes have been split up into two groups. Each group seeks the ultimate weapon to combat the oncoming dragon threat. At first, it seems that they all must get together and discover the truth behind the mythical dragonlances— the only weapon thought to be strong enough to penetrate a dragon's hide. But then we find out that those aren't the only or most important weapon.

What IS then?
Dragon balls. Our heroes spend nearly the entirety of the story searching for orbs made by the most powerful of wizards in previous ages. Any one of these dragon balls—so called because they've been imbued with the essence of dragons— will summon all dragonkin in the near vicinity because reasons. We are not privy to what these reasons are. The dragons cannot refuse the siren call of the orbs. This seems a terrible idea, given that the balls don't actually control the dragons; just call them over. Why not just get a dragon whistle? Or some dragon pheromones? No, instead they go through all the trouble to find these rare dragon balls that they can't even use without losing their minds.

Does that count as spoilers?
Have you learned nothing from my reviews? Nothing is sacred! Besides, I'm not revealing more than the chapter titles do. You can get a fair idea of what will happen in the story simply from reading the chapter titles. Each one gives you a "preview" of what happens therein. For example, in one chapter, an elf king named Lorac tries to use a dragon ball to save his land. "What will happen next?!" I wondered to myself. I didn't wonder long, for the first thing I read on the next page was, "Visions shared. The Death of Lorac." Weiss and Hickman: Scheherazade they are not.

Are you sure you're enjoying these books?
I am, I promise! They're only a little frustrating sometimes— when they slow down for their little romances or give away what's going to happen in the chapter title. The random banter between characters is entertaining, and the storytelling has smoothed. Overall, the experience is improved. So I can recommend Dragons of Winter Night more than the previous book! Go check it out!

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