Welcome back to the Dragonlance Reread!
Last week we broke a rock and an orb and there was a fair amount of politicking and zomg AN ACTUAL DRAGONLANCE. Everything else pales in comparison, right? How can we possibly top that?
“An Unexpected Journey” and “The Perechon. Memories of Long Ago.”
We’re back with Laurana, with a much-needed big loan from a girl zone, since we haven’t heard from her in a while. She is telling Elistan that she must go find Tanis; leaving Lord Gunthar’s castle where she, Elistan, Flint and Tas have been staying. She thinks of her father, with whom she did not go, and sees him aging, as if through Raistlin’s hourglass eyes. She has also not told her father where Gilthanas has gone, leading the Speaker to pretty much disavow her.
When the elves leave, Theros leaves with them—Council having voted unanimously to not be dumb, and have more Dragonlances created. There has still been some talk of whether the Elves and Dwarves will fight the Dragon Highlords together or not. Laurana, in the meanwhile, has her tempestuous little tantrum, telling Elistan that—logic be damned—she just wants to find Tanis. She’s secretly worried Kitiara will show up near Tanis, too. She’s also done with all the intrigue. Who can blame her?
Gunthar tells Elistan and Laurana that Sturm has been vindicated, but that the Knights are divided. Both Elistan and Laurana insist that Gunthar is the man to lead the Knights, which leads him to ask them to go Palanthas—ostensibly to take the Lances but actually to carry a Writ of Vindication from the Council to restore Sturm’s honour. Gunthar explains that Laurana must do this as he can not trust anyone else, and she agrees, though she is (again) tormented by thoughts of Tanis.
Meanwhile, Fizban and Tas try to cheer up Gnosh by helping him put together the 2,687 pieces of smashed orb. Tas, bored, agrees to leave with Laurana, and says his goodbyes to Gnosh and Fizban, who tells him that taking the dark path was the right decision, because he has the courage to handle it. A little later, Fizban runs into Elistan, who is about to depart for Southern Ergoth. Fizban thinks he has met Elistan before, in his usual scatterbrained way, and Elistan turns deathly white, admitting that perhaps he has known Fizban a long time. Fizban trundles off, but Elistan is left thoughtful and quiet.
Elsewhere, Tanis and Caramon are hanging out in a dark alley, in a wretched town called Flotsam which is overrun by draconians, goblins and mercenaries. They’re hoping to find a ship. Raistlin has now recovered from his Orb experience, and assured the others that he has gained control of the Orb, but that he still needs to do some studying. Raistlin wants to go to Palanthas—to hit the city’s famous Library of Astinus. Tanis is torn—listen to Raistlin? Or head to Sancrist to find Laurana and Sturm?—but he hasn’t accounted for all the draconians running about in Flotsam.
While Raistlin plays with his Orb, Caramon and Tanis fake a fight outside a tavern to attract the attention of some human mercenaries, smash their heads together and steal their armour. Now able to move around the Highlord-occupied town, they find a ship. The captain, Maquesta Kar-thon from Northern Ergoth, is savvy to their disguise though seems cool with them. She is, of course, gorgeous, and Caramon gets his leer on while she flirts with Tanis. She agrees to take them on, and shows them around. They are shocked to see a man in dragon armour as her helmsman, but the captain seems okay with him, explaining that—although he’s strange, never goes ashore and is mute—she finds him to be excellent at his job. Tanis thinks perhaps “Berem” has some Elven blood in him and that he’s awfully familiar looking. Berem seems to be watching Tanis carefully too.
Our crew have to wait a few days before Maq’s ship is ready. Tanis is walking around town, when he’s accosted by an Elf who thinks Tanis is a Highlord minion and attempts to avenge the death of his family by attacking him. Tanis averts the attack by speaking in Elven and trying to pull off the helmet that has hidden his own pointy ears, but the angry Elf attacks anyway. Before he can skewer Tanis, the Elf is killed by a Dragon Highlord who also thinks Tanis is a Highlord minion. Tanis plays along, until suddenly, the Dragon Highlord recognises him. This Dragon Highlord? Kitiara.
‘What keeps him clinging to this life?’
…wonders Tanis about Raistlin. It’s because he’s cool, Tanis, because he’s cooler than us all.
‘now you’ve got a chance to study a dragon orb from the inside out!’
Tas, cheering up Gnosh (it works!). This is really cute.
Monster(s) of the Week
A Dragon Highlord.
Kitiara! I’ve been waiting a long, long time for her to make an appearance. I’m even willing to forgive the inevitable oh she so pretty stuff that is sure to follow in the next chapter, just to have a woman in the mix who isn’t pining. What will Kitiara do? What will she bring to the table? Hell, she may well bring her own table. I genuinely can’t recall the details of what Kitiara gets up to, but I’m pretty certain she’s going to be great.
But seriously—what is she doing in the Dragonarmies? Has she turned mercenary for the wrong guys? Is she in there so she can destroy them from the inside? She did just slice an elf apart very easily and with no apparent guilt—where does Kitiara stand in this war? So many questions!
(See: Kamila Shamsie’s earlier guest post on Kitiara)
Otherwise, this couple of chapters seems a little like filler, though that’s okay. We’ve now got the groundwork laid for a bunch of new stuff to happen. The Knights are possibly falling apart, the Elves are being difficult, Tas, Laurana and Sturm are on a mini-quest, Theros is off to forge more Dragonlances, Raistlin’s miserable and magical alliance with the Orb is continuing in secret, Caramon and Tanis have secured passage and found us a cool new female character (one hopes she stays this way), Kitiara has finally shown up (Laurana’s fears were right, oh dear) and Fizban is… Fizbanning.
Also…what’s up with Elistan and Fizban? What does Elistan know that we don’t? I’m ready to know more about Fizban now, please.
Personally, I’m done with Fizban. I keep harping on about this, but here’s another situation where someone—Elistan, in this case—is like this is a big important thing and then… nothing happens. Argh.
This is a little thing, but I’m really glad they sorted out Sturm’s ‘vindication’. Knightly bureaucracy seems very silly, but I’m still reeling from the dramatic events of his sham-trial. We knew that the facts of the matter were that Sturm was a hero, but it is nice to see that everyone else has officially learned this as well.
We remember Berem as well. He’s the chap that got squashed under a ton of stone in Pax Tharkas—remember? Or did he? But thinking back to Verminaard and the ‘monstercam’ sections of Autumn Twilight, we know that Berem is very important to the Queen of Darkness. No wonder he’s keeping such a low profile—and no wonder he’s nervous about Tanis…
Just thinking about the ‘bittiness’ of the chapter—thinking about Dragonlance’s parallel existence as an RPG, the Flotsam ‘scenario’ is the sort of granular gaming opportunity that’s always a lot of fun. The party needs gold, the party needs to decide where they head next, the party needs to use their wits to survive in hostile territory, etc. etc. Lots of skill checks and clever player scheming required. I’m a little sad I’m not playing it, honestly.
Also, Kitiara. Kit Kit Kit! I feel we may have built her up a little much in our expectations, but, screw it. Even as Laurana has become more impressive and agency-filled… #teamkit
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.