Welcome back to the Dragonlance Reread!
Last chapter, we finally reunited the Heroes—and hinted towards their big (final?) quest. This week’s chapter, the last of the section, continues that trend… tidying things up, so we can look ahead.
A single candle.
Things are dire in Kalaman. The Dark Lady has issued her ultimatum, Lord Calof has declared a State of War, sealing off the city under curfew and shutting down the taverns. Which is how you know things are really, really dire. Refugees from the little peripheral villages start to appear, with stories of draconians swarming over their homes. Lord Calof has no idea what to do, and neither do his military leaders. Dire, I tell you!
Eventually, after listening to a bunch of useless ideas, Tanis suggests that Gilthanas be allowed to take over the defense of the city. Lord Calof is relieved at the idea, even offering Gilthanas a reward, which of course Gilthanas refuses, asking to speak with Tanis alone first. He admits to Tanis that though he has always despised humans, it feels good to be taking on the role of their protector now.
Tanis also admits that he is going to Neraka with some of his companions. Gilthanas softens enough to apologise for lashing out at Tanis earlier. He understands now, he says, that Laurana did what she had to; that her faith in Tanis and her love for him had been what drove her. He tells Tanis that nothing done in love can ever cause any evil, but Tanis is unconvinced.
Later, in the dead of night, Tanis and the companions meet up to start their new quest. There is some gazing around at the setting sun—plus sweet smiles from Goldmoon, which must mean she’s thinking of her child to be, of course. Tanis insists that Riverwind and Goldmoon go their own way, with their only responsibility being the child they are to bring into the world. He gathers Goldmoon into his arms, kisses her gorgeous hair, tells her to speak to her child one day of two people who loved each other so much they brought hope into a world of dragons.
Having dealt with those two, Tanis makes sure Berem is closely guarded by Caramon and moves his troops out to where a bunch of brass fast-flying dragons await to take them to Neraka. Flint is wheezing a bit and seems unwell, but Tanis knows he won’t stay behind. Tanis steels himself and turns one final time to look at Goldmoon and Riverwind, who are now totally his besties. Goldmoon lights a candle, they wave—and then extinguish the candle before anyone can see it. Hope’s flame will always burn, thinks Tanis.
Monster(s) of the Week
Tanis’ earnestness. Ugh.
Brass dragons. Is it just me or do these seems kind of cute?
“The darkness might conquer, but it could never extinguish hope. And though one candle—or many—might flicker and die, new candles would be lit from the old.” This is Tanis being melodramatic. Wow.
This candle business… the absurd use of a candle that may endanger them, that is lit for a second only so they can wave (why? Wasn’t there just all this hugging and kissing? Is that not enough?), this is ridiculous and clearly only employed so Tanis can come up with the melodramatic metaphor above. Fine, fine… it’s a way to end this book and we need something heavy here, I agree. But wow, Tanis. I just can’t.
Honestly…are we not done with Tanis? Is Tanis not done being everyone’s father figure/leader/lover/brother, mother and your sister too? Everything about him is just so earnest, it makes my skin crawl. I get that he’s good, that he loves and respects and wants the best for everyone and when he messed up with Kit, he was all messed up but wow, the earnestness just reeks for miles. The entire scene with him promising Riverwind and Goldmoon a shiny happy future with their yet-to-be-born child, from the “Your work is done, my friend” to him snuggling and kissing Goldmoon just made me cringe. What is Tanis? A benevolent asexual grandfather figure? A raging, hormone-driven Kitiara slave to love?
Still, here we are at the end of Book Three, winging our way to the Dark Queen, trying to make a bargain, hoping she’ll keep up her end of the deal, hoping her end of the deal won’t destroy the world all over again. Hope for the future also lies nestled in Goldmoon’s perfect, beautiful, golden uterus (it has to be, right?), so we’ve got a new generation to save the world for. It’s all very earnest. But it’s sending us out there onwards to a new adventure, and for that I am glad.
Hey, I miss Raistlin.
Not really as good as the previous chapters, is it? Sort of a mini-denouement to a mini-climax, and we don’t learn a lot new. If there’s a metaphor here, it is the fact that Kalaman somehow wasn’t in a “State of War” before this chapter. Both unnecessarily dramatic and weirdly… way too late. It hasn’t been at war so far? What about the, you know, war?!
Although, to make a mountain out of a molehill (our job as rereaders, right?), we can drop that into the book’s reoccurring anti-institutional theme. So far throughout the series, individuals—be they pub landlords, ship’s crew, or the Heroes—are more or less buttoned-down and effecting a difference. Whereas institutions—the High Seekers of Solace, the Knights of Solamnia, the elven kingdoms, the lords of Palanthas and Kalaman—have been slow to move, distracted and, you know, dumb. Let’s call that a message.
Perhaps I’m just grumpy that, after last chapter’s writeup, and the note to how we’ve brought the party back together again… the first thing we do is let Goldmoon and Riverwind loose. Is it weird how little we still know (or even care) about these two? I don’t think. Hell, Riverwind’s “token racist” shtick has now been usurped by Gilthanas (and briefly, Sturm. Remember that back in Autumn? That was weird).
I’m also grumpy that Tanis’s penance lasted approximately six pages. Even Gilthanas has forgiven him, with a weird bit of victim-blaming. (Silly Laurana, getting herself kidnapped for no reason!) Tanis has somehow reclaimed his position not only as party leader (fair enough—he is apparently good at that), but as moral authority—and that’s ridiculous.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying… I miss Raistlin, too.
See you in the final chapters…
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.