Dragons of a Fallen Sun
Dragons of a Fallen Sun Capsule Review by Charles Phipps on 20/08/01
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
An excellent and much needed product
Product: Dragons of a Fallen Sun
Author: Margerat Weis and Tracy Hickman
Company/Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Page count: 548
Year published: 2000
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Charles Phipps on 20/08/01
Genre tags: Fantasy
The story of Dragons of a Fallen Sun doesn't begin with this novel it begins a far longer time ago in the creation of the Dragonlance novels by these very authors. The Novels of the Dragonlance series I think virtually every gamer in the world owns a copy of and that's in part because they were prolific and shock of shocks they were good. It is no coincidence I think that part of their popularity was that they're adventures were really just published accounts of adventures many fans had run in and of themselves.
Then TSR began it's "fall from grace" so to speak with the arrival of the Wizards of the Coast buyout and their attempts to massivly boost sales by creating a "5th age" for one of their most popular game lines. I'm not sure what went on behind closed doors but "Dragons of Summer Flame" was the result and while the novel was personally very enjoyable to me I have never seen a novel more thoroughly put the 'kabosh' on a game setting. The Dragonlance setting for 5th age was effectively and I will be perfectly frank-terminated. No Magic, No Gods, No Warring Knighthoods, No cool Dragons, and much of the cool setting eradicated.
5th age (bear with me on this history lesson please-it has a point) to not put too fine a point on it-tanked. The setting with it's Giant Super Dragons, "mysticism", and lack of decent antagionists compared to the old plus an abyssmal novel set with nothing comming close to the novels that made Dragonlance so popular gave most the impression that Dragonlance as a setting was finished and the 5th age was....a very very bad end to a good series much like the 6th season of Highlander or the end of Battlestar Galactica.
Dragons of a Fallen Sun, I don't know how, is a sequel to the 5th age and the work of the series's creators who have apparently resolved their differences with the gameline's designers (Dragons of Summer Flame I can only assume by reading it was a hateletter to their employers) and seems to have set out to take up the monumental task of repairing Dragonlance as a campaign/fantasy novel setting.
I must say now that I have given the rather monumental task of undoing not only what they did to their setting but what the interlopers (I can only term them such) did afterwards to fix "their" mistakes they have accomplished their aim with a great deal of finesse.
It's about sixty or seventy years after the War of the Lance and for the most part life in Krynn righteously sucks.
Tracy and Weiss waste no time in revealing a character with a bit of "magic" about her that has been missing since Steel Brightblade, Palin, and even beyond them the original group of Tanis and company. The character is Mina who combines all of the fun aspects of Goldmoon's devotion with the disturbing nature of Kithara...and some old fashioned Joan of Arc.
An old friend returns and while he isn't as funny as he was in the old Books he provides a wonderful contrast to the Present day "angst angst angst" that keeps going down around the group.
Palin Majere also returns and we see honest character development from the "Raistlin but without the attitude" to a man who has been seriously worn down by his life and is as bitter as his uncle but in his own way worse because it's self inflicted and despairing not the result of a bad crap shot of life.
The "adventure" itself offers tantalizing new oppurtunities for Krynn by speaking about such strange issues as why the mysticism and new magic of Krynn is dying (my guess is Tracy and Margeret hated it as much as we did) and who the mysterious "One True God" is (Hint it doesn't seem to be a venture in Christianity I can tell you that).
The politics aspects are especially well done with the Elven lands having again taken on the role as a noble peace loving people who unfortunately due to their isolation have managed to get themselves in a nasty bind. The story unfortunately has a bit of "Senator Palpatine" moment where the bad guy being revealed is of no surprise to anyone who reads it.
Worse this is repeated in the second book. Still this is a very promising series and the best Dragonlance fiction in years.