Welcome back to the Dragonlance Reread!
Last week things were very damp. The previous week, they were just plain dark. So where are we now? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Will #TeamTanis leave the sunken city? Will #TeamLaurana just be #Team?! All this and more in DRAGONLANCE!
“Berem. Unexpected help.” and “Dark tidings.”
While Caramon and Tika are, um, doing things. Tanis explains their situation to Apoletta, the sea elf. She does some deep thinking, while Tanis enjoys the moment of (relative) solitude.
There’s not a lot of new information shared in their conversation, but their chat covers:
- Nobody trusts Berem.
- Neraka, where Berem comes from, is also home to the Temple of the Dark Queen
- Good dragons exist (remember, this is new news to Tanis)
- Sea dragons also exist [Editor’s note: …offscreen. Sigh.]
- Apoletta and Zebulah really don’t want to get involved, but…
Goldmoon interrupts the conversation, and then the others return. Tanis sees Caramon and Tika and reads between the lines, but he also spots that Caramon is an emotional wreck. This prompts some proper Tanispection (Tanintrospection? Tanisgazing? Your best suggestion in the comments, please). Problems everywhere, and he doesn’t want to deal with it. Why not follow the Apoletta model, and just hang out under the sea?
Goldmoon interrupts this Tannui (Tanis + ennui, see. Seriously, help!) and Tanis loses his temper. He’s tired of being a leader, and, perhaps more importantly, he feels like he’s betrayed them (he has) and believes that everything is his fault (it isn’t). Apoletta then interrupts Tanis, and says she can help—or, at the very least, she can get the party out of Istar.
After some discussion (Caramon wants Palanthas, because awks), they agree on Kalaman. Goldmoon reminds Tanis that, waaaay back in Autumn Twilight, he was the one that took charge and lead the group—including the strangers—out of the inn. And, despite his doubts, they all believe in him. There’s hugging. Then Apoletta and Zebulah do magic mojo and… scene!
Cut to: ‘Little Rogar’, the fisherman’s son. He’s found a pretty lady on the beach. His father is skeptical, but comes to take a look. Little Rogar is right: there are two pretty ladies and four not-so-pretty men. These are, of course, #TeamTanis. They wake up and, in an awkward conversation, Tanis et al. pretend that they were in a “boating accident”. Golly gee. But hey, they’re near Kalaman and no harm done. Ha ha.
The party regroup—their memories are slightly furry, but they remember that they’re heading to Kalaman. Once in the city, they’re treated to the latest news—the Golden General has been captured! This is pretty meaningless to them, but it reminds Tanis that they should buy weapons. He reaches for his purse, but it is gone. Caramon’s as well, but he spots the thief and… HEY! Tas!
Huzzah! #TeamTanis and #TeamLaurana reunite. Tas and Flint explain everything—the dragonlances, the dragon orbs, the death of Sturm and the kidnapping of Laurana. Everyone is very sad, and trades “no, it was my fault!” self-recriminations. Except Gilthanas, who, not without cause, tears a strip out of Tanis’s hide—blaming him for canoodling with Kit and therefore baiting the trap for Laurana. (Tanis, in fairness, agrees.)
At the end of their catch-up, another familiar face arrives—Kitiara flies in. She announces that Laurana has been taken to the Queen of Darkness at Neraka, and will be killed in three weeks, unless the following demands are met:
- Berem handed over
- The good dragons surrender to Lord Ariakas in Sanction
- The Knights, elves and dwarves all lay down their arms
Kit punctuates her demands by throwing around locks of Laurana’s hair and then revealing the Highlords’ latest war machine: the flying citadel. This is an actual flying castle, ripped up from its foundation and floating through the skies. It comes complete with dark thunderclouds, lightning and lots and lots of dragons.
While the citizens of Kalaman flee from dragonfear, the party (now used to it), do some plotting. Tanis grabs Berem and says that they’re going to Neraka. They have three weeks, and he’s going to use it. He tries to leave the rest of the party behind, but they refuse. The heroes are reunited. And they’re off to FIGHT EVIL!
“Start placing blame, and you will end cursing the gods,” said Riverwind, laying his hand on Tanis’s shoulder. “Thus do my people say.”
Tanis was not comforted.
Is it wrong that this made me laugh?
Monster(s) of the Week
Flying citadels! Surrounded by ‘hundreds of flights’ of black and red dragons. That’s a lot of firepower!
Another tantilising reference to Sea Dragons.
You know, Tas (and all kender) being kleptomaniacs is played for laughs, but given that most people in this quasi-medieval world aren’t adventurers with renewable sacks of gold, his compulsive purse-stealing is actually kind of an awful thing.
That out of the way…
I see these chapters as very functional. Not inelegant, in their way, but there are clearly three, large, narrative-driven goals, things that have to happen so the story can move on:
First, Tanis is forgiven. Goldmoon, Caramon, Flint, Tas, even Riverwind—they’re all hugging it out. He’s relieved at the end because he has a thing he can do that will redeem him; an adventuring-based solution to his emotional problem. This ends what is, in some sense, Tanis’ major arc since Winter Night. A question for you all, in the comments—should he be forgiven? At least, this quickly?
For me, Tanis is on the spot for three things: canoodling with Kit, Laurana’s kidnapping, and not telling everyone about Kit. The first is pretty naughty, but I think he’s served his time. Laurana’s kidnapping is, arguably, a side-effect, but not really anything he could control—honestly, Kit could’ve lied whether she ever had Tanis or not. My issue is mostly with the third. I know Tanis and Kit have a special, squishy bond, but it feels unfair of him to have lied about her specifically to Caramon and Raistlin. As noted, she raised the two brothers. If my sister joins the Forces of Evil and one of my supposed best friends spends a week with her and doesn’t even tell me, that’s a pretty horrible betrayal. Caramon and Raistlin deserve to make their own decisions as to how they deal with their closest and sole surviving family. Tanis not telling them about her because he’s too ashamed of his own sexual escapades is a bad call.
ANYWAY, second: The parties are reunited! Finally! We’ve had a lot of party-splitting over the past two books, with #TeamLaurana and #TeamTanis, then Tas side-questing with Fizban, then Tanis side-canoodling with Kitiara, then… etc. etc. Now we’re all together, except for two people: Laurana (who has gone from character to quest objective) and Raistlin (who has, as far as we know, turned his back on the party and gone off on his own). Secondary characters: Elistan, Fizban, Gilthanas, Silvara—they’re back on the sidelines where they belong. The arc of the book is complete, and the original Autumn Twilight lineup is re-united.
Finally—we’ve got a quest. We’re not entirely sure what’s happening in Neraka, but we now know where the Big Bad (Dark Queen) resides, and that Berem is somehow a key McGuffin involved in foiling her. And, of course, Laurana is there (thanks for sharing, Kit). Everyone—Berem and Tanis included—admits that they’re not sure what they do in Neraka, but at least the end-game has a stadium.
Mahvesh is currently in Geneva, discussing Frankenstein (seriously!), so we’ll give the final words this week to Rihanna. She’s more impressed by Tanis’s redemption, and buys that if he ‘gets another chance’, he will ‘never neglect you’. She adds ‘who am I to hold your past against you?—we’ve all erred, and, sure, not all our mistakes lead to evil dragonarmies kidnapping our estranged girlfriends, but, hey, ‘I hope you see this through’.