Dragonlance Reread

The Dragonlance Chronicles Reread: Dragons of Spring Dawning Part 3, Chapters 1 and 2

and

Last week we closed off Part 2. Well, re-closed. We tidied things up two weeks ago and last week was more of a denouement, as we shed our friendly barbarian party members, lit candles, and headed out into the great unknown. But now—we’ve got a party, we’ve got a quest, we’ve got a half-elf on a mission, and a grumpy McGuffin with a gem in his chest… What else could we need? Oh, how about a pocket-sized deus ex machina?

Welcome to the third and final part of Dragons of Spring Dawning!

 

“An old man and a golden dragon.” and “The golden span.”

Summary

We open this new (final!) section with a dragon, which is a very promising start.

Pyrite is a very, very old Gold Dragon (one of the good guys). He’s hanging out in a field, napping alongside his good friend—a very, very old white-robed wizard. No prizes for guessing who that is.

They’re in the middle of (Draconian-occupied) nowhere, but Fizban, as always, seems to have a plan. He wakes up from his nap and, with Pyrite’s help, chases down a group of four Brass Dragons flying overhead.

The Brass Dragons, despite being, you know, good dragons, are being ridden by “dragonarmy officers”. Tanis is recycling their previous trick, hoping to get the team through enemy lines without being noticed. Unfortunately, no one expects the Fizban.

Fizban and Pyrite have no qualms about attacking the ‘enemy’. Fortunately, they’re not particularly deadly. Unfortunately, their antics force Team Tanis to land, after which Fizban drives off the (strangely acquiescent) Brasses.

The usual Laurel & Hardy routine commences, and, eventually, Fizban and the party are reintroduced properly. Fizban insists on coming along (with Pyrite—transformed into a handy, pocket-sized sculpture—in his pocket), and Tanis realises that they can’t just abandon the old man. Reluctantly, the party increases by 1 (2, with the dragon-rock).

He’s no Raistlin, but, hey, at least they’ve got a magic-user again…

Fizban’s wacky antics have drawn the attention of lots and lots of bad guys, so the party take to their heels. Berem’s gone rogue, so they chase thataway—and find their gemstone man tackled (and concussed) by Caramon. Tika wakes him up with the aid of some horrific smelling salts, and the party resumes their flight.

Fizban—with his weird knowledge of stuff—is oddly familiar with their surrounding. He leads the group though the rocky terrain until they reach a deep gorge (“400 foot drop”, Tanis muses). There’s a very, very, very old bridge going across that—everyone agrees—must predate the Cataclysm. That’s not encouraging.

Unfortunately, they have no other choice. They take to the bridge, Tanis in the lead. He carefully gets halfway across before the rotted wood gives way—he starts to fall and is saved by, of all people, Berem. The previously-unfriendly McGuffin drags Tanis back from the brink. He’s alive, but they’re all trapped on the rickety bridge, with draconians comin’ round the mountain.

Tanis holds off the draconian hordes with some slick archery, but that won’t last long. As a last, desperate bid for survival, he turns to Fizban, and begs him to do something—anything! The (crazy?) (old?) (mage?) chants and… to everyone’s surprise… he makes a new bridge. A beautiful golden span that covers the sizeable hole in the bridge.

The draconians charge, but the party dash across. Tika, Berem and Flint make it to the other side… but then the bridge collapses! The draconians fall to their doom (ha ha, suck it, evil!), but Tanis, Fizban, Caramon and Tas are on the golden span… in the middle of the air? Somehow, Fizban’s ‘bridge’ stays hovering above the gorge, despite nothing to hold it up.

Hijinks!

Several hours and some ropework later, the team are reunited and across the gorge. Much to everyone’s amusement (and slight consternation), the gleaming golden bridge remains, and presumably will forever…

The fun stuff behind us, there’s time for some serious talk. Caramon’s still sulky (and his appetite is off!). Tika doesn’t understand—because she’s an only child. Tanis doesn’t either, but… Berem says he does? Before Tanis can interrogate him, Berem sulks off.

Tas intercepts our grumpy McGuffin and talks him through some of his maps, telling him all sorts of whoppers. Tas has also nicked Laurana and Tanis’s ‘promise ring’. The golden dragon statue has curled around it in his bag. Cute!

Tas shares that they’re heading somewhere called Godshome, where no one ever goes. Except Fizban, because he goes all sorts of places.

Flint, is still sick and sore. Tanis has noticed this, mostly, but Flint won’t talk about it. But Tanis doesn’t see his old friend collapse, and then sit on the side of the road. Whatever is happening with Flint, it is serious, and he’s not sharing…

Monster(s) of the Week

Draconians, skewered.

Brass Dragons, rapidly departed.

Gold Dragon, senile/transformed.

Notable Quotes

“I don’t [understand] either. But, then, I never had a brother or a sister.”

Tanis. Well, he… did. Remember, Tanis grew up with Porthios, Gilthanas and Laurana. No, they didn’t like one another, and no, they’re not blood relatives (which is good, all things considered). But foster families are families. (Nor was it, like, one summer at Uncle Sun-Speaker’s Farm—they’re elves, they spent decades growing up together!)

“Didn’t you ever wonder how [Fizban] managed to live through that fall at Pax Tharkas?”

“I wonder about a lot of things.”

Flint and Tanis. Again, why not ask him? Flashbacks to being held hostage by Silvara for half a book, but good lord. This party absolutely refuses to interrogate its travelling companions. No wonder Raistlin a) went evil and b) left.

I suppose they’re doing a much better job of interrogating Berem—you get a sense that they keep trying to ask him things, and he keeps huffing off. Only rarely are there answers, and the whole thing is frustrating, but at least you get the sense of effort. Whereas here, is this really the only time anyone has even mentioned the whole mysterious-immortal-wandering-companion thing?! You’d think Tanis, of all people, would be delighted to have a topic of conversation that wasn’t just about, you know, him.

Jared’s Take

Throwback chapter! I’m not so fussed about Fizban and his hands-on school of plot railroading, because, let’s be honest—Tanis’ plan was pretty dreadful.

Were people really not going to notice that they were on the wrong type of dragon?! I suppose, with time being of the essence and all, the speed of the dragonflight made up for it. But, then, why not fly at night? Or do something a little more subtle than zipping directly over enemy lines?

Anyway, that’s all just adventure-starting fluff. The fun part is the scramble over the bridge. Hot pursuit by draconian hordes, misfiring magic, desperate archery, crazy set-piece action-adventure landscapes… remind anyone else of the cinematic (or RPG-ic) fun of the first books? Not that I didn’t appreciate the more characterful drama of Winter Night, or the epic set-up of this book’s first two sections… but there’s a strange comfort in returning to the linear, dungeon-crawling team-tactics adventuring of Autumn Twilight.

Artistically, this follows the last chapter’s theme of getting us back to the beginning. But really, I suspect this is down to the series’ origins as an RPG again: enough of the filler, let’s get geared up for the final dungeon and the Big Bad!

Mahvesh’s Take

I’m going to say what we are all thinking: this senile old gold dragon is wayyyy cute. Like, totes adorbs. He reminds me of my cranky geriatric aunt, who is still convinced she can save the world, though she hasn’t left her flat in 7 years and can’t recall who the Pakistani PM is (actually, who can, they change a lot). This guy, this earnest, sweet gold dragon still thinks he and Fizban are fighting Huma’s war, and while their intentions are good, things of course go ridiculously array, as Jared has pointed out. Still, there’s a large awww factor with the dragon transforming into a little ornament curled up around the ring. Mostly I want my dragons to be fierce and unrelentingly, but this one is a welcome break isn’t he?

Jared is also right about the not asking questions thing. Everyone wants to know more about Fizban (us included), but no one seems to bother asking him anything. To me this is a strange gaping hole in the story logic—I understand the need for a slow reveal to whatever/whoever Fizban may be, but could we maybe have a more believable way to get there? Even Tas, who is Fizban’s biggest fan, seems to just never bother saying hey man, what’s up with you? It’s entirely possible Fizban won’t remember, but that would at least make more sense within this narrative than just …never asking but always wondering. That golden bridge trick was pretty neat though, wasn’t it?

Flint is worrying me too. We’ve already lost one important companion, are we on the verge of losing another? Why won’t Tanis pursue this angle either? He starts to, but is easily dissuaded by Flint or perhaps easily distracted by everything else—to be fair, there’s lots going on, what with this new quest and trying to keep Berem on track. Still, it’s Flint! He’s been more loyal to Tanis than anyone else, surely he deserves more attention? I live in hope that one day Tanis will figure out what his earnest priorities should be. I know, I know—we’ve got to save Laurana and save the world, but on our way there, maybe we can make sure our bffs are okay too?

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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