Dragonlance Reread

The Dragonlance Chronicles Reread: Dragons of Winter Night Part II, Chapter 10

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Welcome back to the Dragonlance Reread!

Remember waaaay back when we were super-excited about following #TeamLaurana and their adventures? Those halcyon days of youth, when elf-politics seemed exciting, and the worst thing we had to complain about was Gilthanas’ dating technique? That was a long time ago. But, huzzah! We are at the end of this section! No more wandering in the wilderness, and best of all, time to learn…

 

“Silvara’s Secret”

Summary

We’re still with Tas and Fizban, who share some dried fruit while having a catch-up. At the mention of Silvara’s name, Fizban gets highly disturbed and demands to know where everyone else is. They rush back to the tomb, with Fizban using a spell that goes comedically awry to get them back down again.

Cut to Laurana, who wakes up from the spell Silvara had cast to find the others also slowly waking up. Silvara is a hot sobbing mess in the corner. The weeping makes them less angry towards her, but Silvara is shocked that her spell has broken.

Fizban makes a dramatic entrance and declares that this is his doing. Everyone is amazed that he is still alive. Flint faints dead away. Silvara shrieks and whimpers (#strongfemalecharacter). Fizban accosts her, demands to know what she has done: walking around the world in another body, breaking her oath, bringing the companions here. He asks about the dragon orb, notices the others around and does a little hail-fellow-well-met routine with them.

There is some emotional back and forth between Silvara and Fizban about whether she must reveal her secret to the others or not. Fizban being much gentler now, pointing that she can easily make the others forget they were ever here—though that may lead to other potential issues. With that, Fizban says his goodbyes and leaves. Tas follows, because, Tas.

All eyes on Silvara now. She professes her love for Gilthanas, but says something mysterious about the form she has chosen bringing about a weakness, too. It’s all very emotional. Laurana finds their grief too much to watch and instead decides to wake Flint up. Flint, upon waking, is (rightfully) annoyed that Laurana watched Tas go off with a dead old man and makes a feeble attempt to follow them but Laurana distracts him by telling him that Silvara’s about to fess up.

Silvara, embracing the drama, has Gilthanas shine a torch directly at her. She then points out her shadow to the others. It is not that of a young elf but of—gasp—a dragon! She is, she explains, a Silver Dragon. Her sister was the very same Silver Dragon who loved Huma and fought in the great final battle with him. Gilthanas is upset, to say the least. He finds this whole situation nightmarish and is in agony at the thought of… well, I assume some logistical details surrounding recent events in a lake?

Meanwhile, Silvara says there are good dragons around, but she can’t divulge why they won’t help fight the bad ones. She explains that by taking Elven form and lending a hand, she has already interfered more than she should have. The existence of the Dragon Orb and the broken Lance together made her think it was a sign. While Gilthanas sobs in a corner, Silvara has another momentarily internal debate and fully commits—with some heavy declamation, she decides to grant Theros of the Silver Arm the power to forge the Dragonlance.

 

Monster(s) of the Week

Silvara! Silvara! Silvara! She’s a Silver Dragon, yo!

 

Notable Quotes

“Just leave me alone, let me think. This is madness! It’s all a nightmare. A dragon!” Gilthanas whispers this ‘brokenly’.

 

Mahvesh’s Take

Finally, Silvara is interesting… just about.

Not sure this all makes up for the previous weepiness and generally annoying shadiness, but at least we finally know what’s up. The problem with this chapter is that it takes ages to get to the final reveal. While I understand this desire to create tension, it’s just absurd to suspend disbelief long enough to accept that Laurana and the others would all hang out casually while waiting for this big reveal. And it’s annoying to the reader too. Certainly nothing major happens while we wait, anyway!

Meanwhile, am I the only one who thinks Gilthanas is overreacting? His reaction to Silvara being a dragon in human form is so much more violent than the others’, that I can only assume he’s repulsed by the fact that he has had a physical relationship with Silvara. I get the whole inter-species sex bit is traumatic, but she was in elven form… is that all that bad? Or is it that he can’t accept he loves a dragon, a mythical beast that could eat him alive? I don’t know what’s up here. I just want to tell him ‘be cool, Gilthanas, be cool’.

So what’s up with the good dragons? Though now we know there are plenty of them hanging around (heaven knows in what form, falling in love with whom, tsk tsk), we still don’t know why they aren’t showing themselves or getting involved—unless they are, in sneaky Silvara type ways? I’m confused by all this… okay so she sees an Orb and a broken Lance and thinks they’re a sign—but a sign for what? From whom? That the Dragonlances must again be forged for the new battles to come? That she must be involved in the whole situation? That she must bring them to Huma’s Tomb? This whole thing seems a bit shaky.

I miss Raistlin. He’s have asked the hard questions, I bet.

 

Jared’s Take

Ok, massive pet peeve time—and apologies as I’ve ranted in a similar fashion in the previous book as well.

First, Fizban just came back from the dead, mysteriously teleported halfway across the world, intimidated a dragon, inferred—in an obvious way—that he knows everything that’s going on, and then wandered off, taking their kender with them.

Would anyone ever let that happen? No one even tries to question him! The closest we get is Tas starting a conversation and then getting distracted by shiny objects. But, for the umpteenth time, Fizban is clearly not what he seems to be—and in this case, whatever he actually is has direct and consequential impact on the party. Yet everyone just lets it slide.

The closest we get to an explanation—not of Fizban, but of the party’s shockingly lax sense of security/curiosity—is that he has a powerful and ominous presence. Reading between the lines—generously—we could assume he’s magicking everyone into not pestering him with questions. We know, for example, that he’s mind-controlled Tas in the past.

Second, keeping in mind that this is actually based on / running parallel to an RPG, the problem is completely exacerbated. There’s no more brutally paranoid sector of humanity than your average D&D character. There is no way that any group of players would let this go unexamined. The slightest hint that an NPC might have a secret will get even your party paladin cracking out the thumbscrews.

This is all exacerbated by the party’s bizarrely passive relationship with Silvara, in which no one ever bothered to ask her questions—or press her for answers—despite trekking through the wilderness. And again, with nothing better to do. You know the old joke about the America song? If you’re riding through the desert on a horse with no name—what else do you have to do besides name the horse? This is a bit like that, except you suspect the horse is actively plotting against you.

Unpeeving now –

There is something thematically interesting about the party having another—for lack of a better word—religious revelation. In Autumn Twilight, the party found light in the darkest hour (literally: Riverwind was killed during magical night, then resurrected by the glow of the blue crystal staff.)

In Winter Night, Laurana’s crew have been abandoned by the institutions they believe in: the elf kingdoms, their families, the knighthood—all proving false. Guided only by blind faith, they’ve stumbled through the (actual and proverbial) wilderness in search of meaning. And now—they have it. A force of disguised pure Good (remember, alignment is relentlessly polarised) has revealed itself, and with that revelation, expanded their minds to recognise an entire new/old pantheon of Good. Just as the party was feeling overwhelmed by the evil (and Evil) in the world, a miraculous winged being has delivered the truth, for the party to disseminate throughout the land. The Gospel according to Laurana.

None of it is particularly subtle (I mean, let’s talk about Tasslehoff’s absent-reappearing-absent magical spectacles at some point!), but it is effective. Epic fantasy’s Judeo-Christian influences—from Narnia to His Dark Materials—are well-documented, and Dragonlance, a very, very epic fantasy, is clearly part of this long-standing tradition. To quote the classic lyricist, and pastor’s daughter, K. Perry: “This is how we do.”

ANYWAY, enough god-bothering—we’ve finally closed the book (or the section) on Silvara, and can now return to the real action. Right?

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.

Jared Shurin is an editor for Pornokitsch and the non-profit publisher Jurassic London.

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