Welcome back! We’re into the third and final volume of the Dragonlance Chronicles.
Volumes 1 and 2 were very different; very good (and sometimes kinda bad) in their own unique ways. What will happen in Volume 3? Brilliant or terrible? Godfather: Part III or X-Men: Last Stand?
A Song and “The Everman.”
Someone is singing a song to Kitiara, telling her the days are dark and regretful.
There’s a vague shark metaphor, and something about tattered bellies and a throat’s tunnel. The poet thinks of Sturm, who can now see the sun. The poet rides the storm. I don’t know… the point is, Kitiara has grown more beautiful and more poisonous. Like a shark.
Are there sharks in Krynn?
(And, are sharks poisonous!?)
Cut to… Berem and Jasla, hunting in the woods find a path. They assume it is an animal trail and decide to follow it through fire ravaged woods. But it is not an animal trail. It is an old, man made path and Berem guesses they will not find any game along it so suggests to his sister that they head back. He feels for his, tired, discouraged sister, who does the work of both men and women instead of sitting home and receiving suitors, but then their life has been very hard. Suddenly, breaking through this sadness is a shining rainbow light that Jasla thinks may actually be the gates of a rainbow. Berem thinks his sister is a silly girl, but he runs along with her to the clearing, where they find the remains of a building that has been torched, blasted as if by a thunderbolt, jagged columns like broken limbs, the air heavy and oppressive.
But in that dead space is a part of a stone column encrusted with jewels. Berem attempts to pry out the stones and his sister is duly horrified, saying that he must not desecrate what is obviously a sacred place. Berem insists that if this is the rainbow’s gates, then they have finally found their fortune. Jasla insists he not try to steal the jewels. He disagrees. Rage ensures. There is an altercation. He pushes her. She falls against the broken column. The jewels are covered in her blood. The ground splits apart, darkness rises and Berem feels a terrible pain in his chest.
Cut to… Maquesta, the formidable beauty queen/ship’s captain is yelling at Berem. He’s pale, cringing and pitiful like child—though he is fifty or sixty and the best helmsman she knows. She apologises, knowing that he is ‘mentally… still a child’, and hurries away to prepare her ship to ride out the storm, and deal with drunken crew. Berem retreats into a hammock to continue his flashback sequence, a seemingly never-ending loop of his memory of accidentally killing his sister.
Monster(s) of the Week
‘No god is here. No god cares about them. No god will miss them. Embedded in some old column that is crumbling and broken’.
No, Berem buddy, the gods are here. The old gods, they care.
Enough with the songs and the poetry. Enough I say! They’re heavy handed and a little confusing and I only want to read the Kitiara bits anyway. From what I can tell, we’re meant to be still sad about Sturm (got it), confused about Kitiara (done), and be ready to ride the upcoming storm (hell yeah!).
As for Berem…well, what’s up here? Do we need to know all this? Does it have much to do with what’s to come? One can only hope.
Since I don’t have much to say about the Berem and Jasla flashback (oh sure, we know that whole jewelled column in the blasted clearing is important, we get it), let me just say that I really am excited to see what unfolds in the upcoming book. We’ve lost friends, we’ve gained enemies, we’ve met formidable dragons and sad ones and mean ones and ones that almost torched us. We’ve found dragon orbs and dragon lances. Kitiara is back. The dragonarmies are all over the place. Our friends are divided. Things are messy right now but there is clearly some major action on the way. So let’s have it. Let’s just jump into the eye of the storm and see where it takes us. Let’s just not a song up about. Please.
100% with Mahvesh. I have strong feelings about poetry in fantasy at the best of times (shakes fist at Tolkien). Not because I hate, you know, poetry, but rather I see it as a… different skill. And even the very, very best fantasy (prose) writers can, um, flounder when they reach for verse. Like the proverbial poison-shark.
In this case, I can’t help but snark—I’m fairly sure that this is from Tanis’ point of view, and, if you had to guess one character that would be spending the War of the Lance regularly updating his Livejournal with his poetic stylings… well… there we go.
(Please recommend good examples of poetry in epic fantasy in the comments—who does this well?)
Still, to give credit where it is deserved, poetry—especially from the character’s POV—is a way of ‘showing’ not ‘telling’, and, in case we doubted Tanis’ inner conflict (why?), we’ve got it spelled out on the page for us.
Meanwhile, the Berem backstory is very nice, and explains a bit about what’s going on and why he’s so important. He is, ultimately, a big ol’ McGuffin, and that’s ok. In fact, he’s a perfect symbol of that dichotomy that’s been permeating the Chronicles so far: the need to be a game and the desire to be a book. Dragonlance is ‘replicable’ game adventure, and needs a McGuffin—in this case, a single focal point that is essential to the battle of good and evil—a button to push or thermal exhaust port to shoot. Yet, bless Weis and Hickman, because Berem’s also a person—he has his own motivation, his own inner (and outer) conflict, and his own sense of agency. Dragonlance’s tension between the functional and the artistic continues.
And, a personal note—oddly enough, unlike the first two books, I don’t remember much about Spring Dawning as well. I know as a kid, it was my second-favourite (the character-focused drama of Winter really turned me off at the time), and I have some recollections of the final moments, and whatnot. But… how this book gets from Here to There is really foggy to me right now. This will be fun!
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.