Friends know that I enjoy DragonLance. Numbered among Narnia, The Dark is Rising, and Prydain, it is easily one of my favorite fantasy series. I’ve reviewed books from the series and blogged about DRAGONS OF WINTER NIGHT having the best death scene in modern writing.
In this day and age, older books, especially good older books, are under attack by the woke. Comics, TV, and movie franchises take heavy blows from being rewritten and rebooted. The heroes of the old days have to be torn down and turned into villains or losers while new characters come in and take all the glory, winning with nary a sweat. Only franchises taken over by people who truly love the series for what it was and understand what was loved about it can manage (See GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE vs. GHOSTBUSTERS 2016), and those are few. Nothing is safe, and its with that in mind, I sighed as I read the description for book one in the forthcoming DragonLance trilogy.
The problem is not the time travel aspect. While common in scifi, it’s less so in fantasy. However, DRAGONLANCE has a method for time travel in use since the second trilogy. Two actually, masters of the Towers of High Sorcery have a spell, and the powerful artifact the Device of Time Journeying created in the Age of Dreams allows travel. Time travel worked in LEGENDS because the story went back to times readers knew of but were far enough back to have no direct impact on the events of CHRONICLES. This new book will travel to the War of the Lance, the kick off event of the Krynn saga. Certain events from that major war have to happen as chronicled or we’ll have a Kelvin Timeline situation. That’s in the blurb.
The blurb also mentions that the new heroine will have to acquire an artifact allowing her to change time. This is because DRAGONLANCE: LEGENDS clearly and early on established that humans, elves, and ogres cannot change time when they travel into the past. In LEGENDS, the analogy is given that a human traveling in time is like a pebble thrown into a river, the ripples are quickly neutralized. Changing time requires a kender, gnome, dwarf, or other Greystone race (those races were accidents, created by the chaos of the Greystone).
I am not bothered at all about a new artifact that would allow a human to change time. Even though such did not exist at the time of LEGENDS, asking mages to stop trying a failed experiment is akin to asking a person to stop breathing. That the archmages of the past couldn’t craft it doesn’t mean that later archmages can’t. There’s also the possibility it was made in the past (perhaps by Fistandantilus or Magius) and hidden from all until now. Several ways, all fine. New magics are designed, superseding the old rule.
However, the book sounds woke. Just from reading the blurb, I’m going to make some predictions about the series.
- Destina Rosethorn, the new main character, is going to be the best-est ev-er! (Hello, Mary Sue. Good-bye art!) I predict she will be better than several companions at the things they once did best. Maybe she’ll be a better fast-talker than Tass. Probably, she’ll encourage Tanis at a time when he’s ready to give up. Maybe she’ll duel Sturm and win (or Caramon). Whatever she’s good at, odds are it’ll happen without her having to strive for it. You know, unlike Raistlin who had to take a pass/die test to be counted a full mage, and unlike Sturm who gave his life to hold the knighthood together.
- Destina will go back to the War of the Lance or slightly before, the events of the very first trilogy, and be a major influence on the Heroes of the Lance. Like the main woman in ST:D, she will suddenly be the influence behind monumental decisions. Will Destina be at the High Clerists Tower and become the shoulder Laurana cries on instead of Flint? If she goes to the time before AUTUMN TWILIGHT, she might be the reason Sturm finds Goldmoon and Riverwind.
- Tanis will be even more annoying with his moodiness and will cry more often.
- Caramon and Sturm will be derided for their “toxic masculinity.” The same toxic masculinity that caused the elven Alhana Starbreeze to fall in love with the human Sturm when he defended her from the rabble in Tarsis.
- Time-traveling Tasslehoff is back. Why? He had a good death at the end of Chaos War before being brought back for the War of Souls (A situation for which I also ask why?). To keep bringing a character back cheapens their sacrifice. Tass died a hero’s death—not as moving as Sturm’s but a good one for Tass.
When a series goes woke after being taken over by outside forces, that’s one thing. But what is to be done when the original authors come back and take a wrecking ball to the series that made them famous? Though I don’t know for sure they have, the blurb and the prior report of a “strong, female character” (in this day and age, that means Mary Sue) point to it.
I suppose Goldmoon, Laurana, and Tika weren’t strong? I’ll just point out that Tika bashed Draconians in the face with a skillet, Laurana used her charisma and the political skills she learned as an elven princess to lead the Knights of Solomnia, and Goldmoon became the first true cleric in 350 years! What about Crysania in LEGENDS who became leader of the clerics of Paladine once she learned humility? Or how Alhana Starbreeze’s love for her kingdom drove back Cyan Bloodbane’s nightmare spell? She then became the first queen of the reunited elven kingdom, by the way.
Maybe those women don’t count because they fought and strove to overcome great obstacles within themselves that mirrored the outside situation instead of simply being good enough at birth.
That’s probably it. Every one of those women had flaws to overcome before they came into their own.
As you can see, I don’t have high hopes for the series, but I know many fans who are absolutely salivating over another Weis-Hickman teamup for Krynn. At one time, I was with them, but I didn’t like several things about the ending of War of Souls and had no interest in the Mina trilogy that came after. I’ll be waiting to read reviews and see if this one goes like I think it will.
If you want to read a story inspired by DragonLance’s golden age, read my “Crucible” in Fantastic Schools I or “Lab Partners” in Fantastic Schools III. Neither have political correctness but they do have strong female characters who learn and grow from the obstacles they face.