Welcome back to the Dragonlance Reread!
Last week, Raistlin showed up draped in black velvet and used the dragon orb to save everyone (but not before toying with Caramon, of course) while Laurana turned her back on Tanis. But now we’ve reached the big, epic, Michael Bay-sized conclusion, so let’s get on with it!
“Kitiara.” and “The end. For good or for evil.”
Tanis follows Laurana out of the scrum and into one of the Temple’s many antechambers. Still dressed as a Dragonarmy officer, he’s largely unmolested as he blunders along, trying to find her. The Dragonarmies are all in disarray as well—the disappearance of the Queen of Darkness is sinking in, and no one knows what will happen next.
Tanis stumbles around, weary, alone, and steadily realizing that he’s in serious trouble. He’s ambushed by… Laurana. Who kicks his ass yet again, then, recognizing him for, uh, him, lets him off the hook. She’s still damn chilly though, and is keen to send him on his way.
Tanis takes this moment to confess his love (sort of—mostly he sort of talks about himself, because, Tanis). But they’re interrupted by Kitiara. She gives a much better speech than Tanis did. Everything hangs on a knife’s edge… and then Lord Soth approaches. Tanis valiantly offers to protect Laurana (which is funny, as she’s clearly the better one right now), but Kit shoos them away instead, saving their lives.
Our heroes flee. Soth stops to chat with Kitiara, and remarks that Kit is clearly still weak with love for Tanis. Kit gives another quality speech, this time pointing out that, as always, she’s won. Laurana will have to spend the rest of her life knowing that Tanis is hers because she allowed it. So really, we all live in the shadow of Kitiara’s glory. And Soth helps—he’s found the Crown of Power, and Kitiara is now the undisputed commander of the remaining armies.
Still, Kit’s pact with The Dark Side is not all roses and power-crowns. Soth gives her the undead version of a nudge-and-a-wink, and Kit sees the full unholy glory of the DAAAAAAMNED. That’s something to look forward to.
Tanis and Laurana sprint through the corridors. They sort of half-look for the rest of the party, but Tanis gives up quickly. Laurana tries to pour out her heart, but Tanis shushes her, because apparently this isn’t the time or the place. #irony
But, maybe he’s right. The Temple is in bad shape, and we’ve got earthquakes a-go-go. When the ground settles, the pair continue their mad dash. They find the corridor where Tas and Tika fell, and stop to mourn at Tas’ scattered treasures. Laurana makes a sensible comment about ‘evil devouring itself’ (see also: our earlier write-ups), and Tanis, who now has found the time-and-breath for speeches, gives a solid A+ frothing rant about how the gods have abandoned them. But, wait, what is this? As he pokes through Tasslehoff’s goodies, he finds his ring—their ring—the one that he and Laurana had shared (and, incidentally, has a transformed dragon curled up inside). This, apparently, restores Tanis’ faith in the gods, because Tanis lives apparently in a world where the gods destroying half the world and all of his friends is balanced out by them restoring to him a piece of his jewellery.
Spoiler: Tanis did not come off well in that chapter.
Caramon, Raistlin, Tas and Tika have made it outside the city, with a draconian escort, no less. Caramon wants to go back and help Tanis, but Raist says that the half-elf’s fate is in his own hands. (Or Laurana’s, Kit’s and Soth’s, tbh).
There’s a shining light on a hill (metaphor!) and Raistlin says that Fizban is waiting for them. He’s not so keen to renew an acquaintance with the old wizard/god, so it is time to make their farewells. He casually zorches the draconians and, after taking a moment to make of everyone, has his dragon brought around. Cyan Bloodbane (editor’s note: wooo!) drops by and scares the bejimminy out of everyone. Raistlin saddles up, and Caramon offers to go with him. Raistlin is all, “r u serious?” and then “zomg, u r”. But points out that a) he is off to do Dark and Terrible things and b) it is damn time that both he and Caramon had lives of their own and c) kthxbai. He and his AWESOME NEW FRIEND Cyan go flying off.
Tika, understandably, is a little horrified by all of this.
Tanis and Laurana are somehow already with Fizban, and are delighted to be reunited with the other three. Laurana, we are reminded, is still beautiful.
Tas and Fizban share a lovely moment. Tas is sad that he’s now lost two friends: Flint and Fizban. Fizban reassures him that Flint is well-happy in the afterlife. And, equally importantly, that he and Tas will always be friends, even if one of them is an all-powerful deity.
Fizban also does a little—cryptic—enlightening. He shares that Raistlin is now Fistandantilus (remember that name?) and is the ‘master of both past and present’ (as hinted by Astinus). He also tells Caramon to, essentially, get over it. Caramon seemingly agrees (and even gives Tika a cuddle), but his eyes stray to the night sky…
Tanis is then all, “yay! Good wins!” (hypocrite), but Fizban corrects him. The “pendulum still swings freely”. There are dragons about, plus dragonarmies. And frankly, Good winning ain’t all that great: remember the Cataclysm, after all. With that, he brings Pyrite back, dons his senile old man outfit, and the god and his dragon fly off (in a slightly less stately way than Raistlin did).
There are some goodbyes. Tanis and Laurana are headed to Kalaman. Remember, the Forces of Good have no idea what is going on, and assume that Laurana is still being held hostage. Caramon and Tika are going back to Solace. Tas is going back to the land of the kender, because, why not?
Tanis and Laurana finally take a moment to speechify at one another, and, much to Tanis’s shock, she chucks the ring off into the darkness. They’re starting over, together. It is actually quite sweet.
They camp out for the night and watch a few pyrotechnics: first the Temple explodes, Michael Bay style. Then, dramatically, the two missing constellations—the Queen of Darkness and the Valiant Warrior—both return to the night sky. For now, at least, balance is restored.
“[Tanis] wondered if [Laurana] had been at all cognizant of her surroundings when they brought her in, and if she had any idea how to get out. And then Tanis realized that he himself only had a vague idea of where he was.”
This made me laugh. Tanis’ first impulse: “poor Laurana, clearly helpless and lost!”. Then the dawning realization that he, who was fully cognizant and completely aware of his surroundings (and a freakin’ ranger), is totally helpless and lost. That’s our Tanis! (laugh-track)
“Kitiara vanished into the darkness as completely as if she had been consumed by it.”
That, MFA students of the future, is called “heavy-handed”.
“Perhaps someday I will give you another ring and I will accept yours.”
Monster(s) of the Week
As before, all of them.
Special shout-out to Cyan Bloodbane, who is, by far, the most gangsta of all dragons.
OK! Plots resolved:
- Queen of Darkness is back. (BANISHED) (Book 1)
- Dragonarmies are conquering the world. (DEFEATED) (Book 1)
- Berem is something something something gemstone quest. (SORTED) (Book 2)
- Tanis’s love triangle with Kitiara and Laurana. (CLEARED UP) (Book 2)
- Laurana has been kidnapped by the forces of the enemy. (FREED) (Book 3)
Plus, on the mystery front, we’ve figured out:
- Who is Fizban? (GOD)
- What happened to Raistlin? (OFF BECOMING A BADASS)
- Something something Berem? (HE’S THE MACGUFFIN WE NEED TO BEAT TAKHISIS)
Which, as far as I can tell, tidies things up pretty nicely. There’s one Very Large and Deliberate cliffhanger, as to “wtf is up with Raistlin and the prophesy and such”, but, you know, we still have an epilogue to go. Plus another 239 books. So who knows.
It was really last week that most of this happened, to be fair. It had action a-plenty. This week was more… explaining what we just saw, and the significance. Raistlin and Fizban do all the plot-related exposition while Tanis and Laurana take turns downloading the complete history of their feelz.
I think we’ll conclude in a separate concluding post, but, despite my (gentle?) teasing, I’m not dissatisfied. Not in the least. As Fizban notes (and Raistlin implies), this isn’t the triumph of Good—this is jamming the reset button after your computer goes wonky. Things aren’t going to perfect, but they’re no longer crashing towards the Abyss. Tanis and Laurana’s relationship is, I suppose, a microcosm. It isn’t a fairytale ending, but they’ve already tried—and failed—for that sort of soft-focus-romanticism. They’re both grown-ups now, and their love is of a different, more tempered, shape.
I can’t quite believe we’ve come this far, and it’s almost…neat? Sure, I know not all loose ends have been tied up tightly, given the open endings all the character arcs have had, but it’s still pretty neat and tidy and I love it. Last week was a lot of action, this week we’ve had a nice little settling of the dust, as it were, after the explosions and the madness. Jared’s wrapped things up so well, so I won’t repeat that but yeah…I’m not dissatisfied either, at all.
I wonder though…can we see Tanis and Laurana relationship as a microcosm to the entire story so far? I think Jared makes a really good point. They’ve tried, they’ve been together, apart, with other people (sorta) and they’ve grown (well, she has. Him, not so much) and they’re now seeing each other from a new perspective, each trying to figure out if there’s room for the other in their new lives. Caramon and Raistlin too, are re-assessing their need for each other (well, Raistlin is done with him, but you know what I mean). Basically, everything is okay…for now. And that’s okay by me. For now. Maybe for ever. But as Jared said, there’s a gazillion more books to go. Who knows what else may come our way? Dragons, for sure.
A deeper evaluation of the Chronicles to follow, but for now, a deep sigh and maybe a nice, relaxed tankard of ale.
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.