We’re back! Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! And speaking of awkward situations involving relationships between expansionist settlers and the indigenous population, how about those Kaganesti elves? (Awkward segue!) When we last saw Laurana, she and her buddies—including her sex-starved brother—were fleeing through the wilderness, pursued by… pretty much everyone.
…and that’s pretty much still what’s happening.
“Pursuit.” and “A Desperate Plan & Dark Journey.”
Moving on from Silvara and Gilthanas’s creepy encounter, everyone has carried on the next day. They abandon their boats and meet a group of Kaganesti elves who are carrying the bodies of dead warriors. Things almost come to blows, but Theros and Silvara calm them down—at least, enough to find out that the Kaganesti have been attacked twice in the last two days by draconians. Everyone is confused as to why the draconians are here, and Theros suggests that perhaps the Highlords are sending out small patrols to worsen the already fraught elven situation, hoping the elves will destroy each other and so a war won’t be needed. Silvara and Theros bargain for safe passage, and the companions continue to the high country.
Laurana guesses that something has happened between her brother and Silvara when they exchange a ‘sweet, secret smile’. Silvara, meanwhile, has changed into regular Kaganesti clothing and since her hair is all washed and combed, she’s radiant (of course). She’s also a good guide, finding them a cave to spend the night in, moving them along at a steady clip and even apologising that dinner will be cold.
In the morning, they find that elves have stalked by their cave during the night. While Derek is ready to fight them if need be, Laurana insists that there will be no bloodshed. She also spots Silvara hiding in the shadows of the cave they have all just vacated, doing something dodgy with a bunch of sticks. Silvara also has the dragon orb, which is swirling with strange light. Laurana confronts her and kicks aside whatever sticks and stones Silvara seemed to have been arranging. The argument leaves Silvara trembling and sad… and continuing to evade any questions about what she’s doing.
There is a sudden attack from the Kaganesti, but luckily they are not aiming to kill (so what are they aiming for?). Our lot make a run for the woods. Derek & Sturm do not agree on what to do but eventually everyone compromises on ‘retreating hastily’. There is a lot of running. They are winded. Silvara urges them on until they are all exhausted and she suggests they split up, with Derek leading one party (and the orb) to Sancrist and Silvara and the others holding off the elves in pursuit.
While everyone is doubtful of this plan, Silvara seems to have thought it through entirely (hmmm), explaining that she will draw them a map, show them how to start an avalanche to cover their tracks and then take the others safely to a place known only to her people. Sturm agonises, insisting that there is much more at stake than he can ever explain, but eventually agrees to go with Derek and hand the orb over to the Council of Whitestone. Laurana, on finding that Silvara has not given the knights the broken dragonlance, once again confronts her… and gets no answers at all. She is worried that Silvara reminds her of Raistlin.
Silvara, it seems, knows what she’s doing.
Silvara eventually admits that she left a map on the floor of the cave for them to be followed by the Kaganesti. She insists she should be trusted and that sending the orb to safety was her plan all along. She shifts wildly between confident leader and nervous slave-elf but, hey, Gilthanas loves her now, so he agrees to go with her. Theron points out to Laurana that though they may not know Silvara, he is certain that her love is pure and that this is enough reason to follow her anywhere.
Laurana goes along with this dazzling love-logic and they all continue their journey to Foghaven Vale, an ex-beautiful place now shrouded in thick fog and creepy. Silvara decides they will camp here, once again avoiding full disclosure. When they settle down, Gilthanas tells her that once they are back from Sancrist, they can be married and that he will try his best to settle in with her people. Silvara starts to cry. Gilthanas writes this off with a ‘women were such funny creatures’ thought and falls asleep to dreams of silver-haired children.
In the morning, they head out again, still by Silvara, who gets nervous each time someone asks what’s up. Eventually, she leads them to the redundantly-named Bridge of Passage, a glistening stone bridge of ancient craftsmanship that sits high over boiling streams below. The bridge has no rails, but Silvara insists that they can cross because they have been summoned. She hurls her torch into the water and speaks strange words in the moonlight. The others are overwhelmed by the sight of the Monument of the Silver Dragon, a great dragon carved silver into a mountain.
When they cross the bridge, Silvara tells them, they will be at the Tomb of Huma, Knight of Solamnia…
‘The dragonlance stays with me’ Silvara said. Glancing swiftly around the spellbound group, she added, ‘As do you’.
Is it just me or is Silvara a little manic? Scary, these mood swings!
Monster(s) of the Week
None, unless we count the dragon of the monument.
Look, I’ll be honest here. I’ve no idea what’s going on. I keep forgetting that Tanis and Raistlin and that lot are elsewhere, I can’t figure out why Silvara would know where the Tomb of Huma is or what we’re meant to do at a tomb or why we are here without the knights, particularly Sturm, who is all Huma-d out all the time. What’s going on?! I need some explanations, please. This is getting quite frustrating. I’ve no idea who or what the Council of Whitestone is. Do you? Where did this bridge come from anyway?!
Otherwise these are not the most interesting chapters are they? Silvara starts off as this perfect guide, and beautiful to boot (but of course). Then she oscillates between being dodgy and being confident, her personality swinging wildly between fearless leader and nervous little traitor. Gilthanas continues to be creepy and patronising—just how big is his ego that he assumes this silly little woman is crying at the emotional thought of wedded bliss? How come he never sits her down and asks what’s up? This is love, I get it, but is it also complete and utter unquestioning acceptance of all odd behaviour? I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s all very creepy. Laurana seems to know it is, but she’s going along with all this too. All I know is, this tomb better have a point. Or a banquet. Or a dragon. Something, anything!
Totally agree with Mahvesh on all counts. This is dull, dull, dull. Being told over and over again that Silvara is being oh-so-creepy but not having anyone do anything about it is… well, annoying. Again, an epic fantasy pet peeve: y’all are isolated in the wilderness, stuck together in a small group for 24 hours a day. Why aren’t you talking? Hell, what else do you have to talk about!? But no, apparently they’re just marching along keeping Big Obvious Secrets from one another, because what with all the nothing that they’re doing, no one ever finds the right time to ask.
(Sure, Silvara’s being evasive… but where can she evade too? Pursue the conversation, Laurana. LEAN IN, ELVEN PRINCESS.)
Again, as Mahvesh says, it doesn’t help that we’re getting some really erratic infodumping. Or the opposite, really—info-retention. Things like the Tomb of Huma and the Council of Whitestone—hell, even the dragon orbs—are being flung around like they are significant. But are they? Really? How are we supposed to know?
And, of course, the biggest problem of all: doesn’t anyone actually distrust Silvara? For one, we’ve got the nominative determinism of Dragonlance. Someone named ‘Silvara’ just isn’t going to be a villain—that’s left to the Toedes and Verminaards of the world. Nor is she really doing anything creepy: everything is sort of half-sinister, but then quickly and obviously discarded as ‘not really malicious at all’. She’s a lot closer to the White Stag than she is to Eben.
(Even when I first read this book at the wee age of way-too-young, I figured out Silvara’s story. Dragonlance: not subtle. But we vowed no spoilers, so, hey. No spoilers.)
Gilthanas. He… uh… fell quickly, didn’t he? Given he’s never (a) asked her a question about herself or (b) heard her reciprocate his love, he’s gotten well ahead of himself. This love is difficult, but (apparently) it is real. But he loves her, and that’s all he knows. He’s ready to speak to her dad—go pick out a white dress and all. Hmmm.
Mahvesh loves dystopian fiction & appropriately lives in Karachi, Pakistan. She writes about stories & interviews writers the Tor.com podcast Midnight in Karachi when not wasting much too much time on Twitter.