Bad news, good news. Bad news: a super-short week, with a denouement and another (steel yourself) poem. Good news: it’s all Raistlin!
Join us for the last dying moments of the Dragonlance Chronicles. And, fair warning—next week, we’ll be doing our big rambling overview, so get ready to share your own favourite moments and monsters!
“The Homecoming” and “Raistlin’s Farewell”
The hero [editor’s note: “hero”] has returned, but there are none to welcome him.
In the dead of night, Raistlin arrives on Cyan Bloodbane, the monstrous green dragon he commands via the orb, and saunters in through the gates because boundaries mean nothing to him. Only Astinus at the Great Library feels his arrival, pausing for a moment before resuming his work on the chronicles again.
Raistlin walks through all the things that cause fear and panic in everyone else, and remains unscathed. At the Tower, Raistlin stands before the haunted robes—fluttering at the fates—and is still unaffected. He has no fear. Raistlin tears the bloodied cloth from the gates and discards it like the bits of rubbish it is to him.
A wraith appears to check what’s up. Raistlin tells it what’s up.What’s up is that his coming has been foretold, that he is master of past and present and that the gates to the Tower will damn well open for him. Raistlin, it seems, is home.
And peace returns to Palanthas as the fear recedes.
Raistlin then rounds up the story for us in a little song-poem, explaining to Caramon that they must now go their own ways. Raistlin has heard the Queen’s lullaby and knows that in the dark he will find the truth (whatever that may be) without Caramon. Ask Tanis to explain, he says.
Monster(s) of the Week
A brief appearance by Cyan Bloodbane.
The ghostly haunted rags at the gates of the Tower, and the wraith that protects it.
‘The only moon in the sky being one his eyes alone could see.’
A shout out to Nuitari, the most wicked-awesome moon. Also, a nice (if slightly overwrought) illustration of how Raistlin has gone full Dark Side. Only the Black Robes can see the secret moon.
‘But in voluptuous darkness lies the truth,/The final, graceful dance.’
I really want to know what this final dance is for Raistlin. Really.
It makes complete sense that we end with Raistlin because well…it’s Raistlin? He’s the master of past and present and our hearts and let’s face it, he’s the most interesting character in the Chronicles. Even Kit, with her complicated and evil charm isn’t as interesting as Raistlin (or is she?).
This whole thing about Raistlin’s riding in on the most monstrous dragon ever, one who tortured the Elven king—I love that Raistlin picks the baddest, biggest ride he can, possibly only because he can, but also probably because he does like a bit of show and pomp, our Raistlin. And why not? If you just grew up to be the baddest mage in town, you can damn well do as you please, right? I also really like how though he’s wearing the dark robes and is clearly not ‘good’ but hey, his moving into the Tower brings peace to Palanthas doesn’t it? See? Raistlin is interesting. I know he’s attracted to the dark side but his personal quest for power doesn’t somehow seem so scary to me… it doesn’t, for instance, seem like what the Queen was trying to do, you know? What’s Raistlin up to though? As exhausted as I am by the Chronicles, I would read more about Raistlin any day.
But what would Jared do?
Oh yeah. Jared would do. And, um, spoilers, but the next trilogy, Legends, is all about Raistlin (and Caramon) (and Tika, kinda) (and Tas, sort of) (and Crystania, because we’re not allowed nice things).
I’m going to take full advantage of this ‘last word’ position and just agree with Mahvesh, but in my own words, so it sounds like original thought.
First up, Raistlin’s ride really is awesome. My fan-crush on Cyan Bloodbane is now well-documented, but just to tally them off: he’s the biggest dragon, he’s the smartest dragon (he took Silvanesti with brains, not brawn), he’s certainly the most twisted dragon, and he’s a bit of a dragon rebel (last time we saw him, he was in the Dark Queen’s dragon-jail for killing another member of the same team). He’s the dragon-Raistlin—too bad for Team Bad.
Second, a shout out to Palanthas for their impressive post-war security measures. Granted, Raistlin doesn’t sail Cyan into the heart of the city—and he has sneaky powers and mysterious ways—but, still. You’d think Palanthas would have some sort of magical counter-measures (where are the White Robes?) to keep malignant archwizards from wandering through the heart of the city on house viewings. Raistlin aside, evil is very much in the land, and Palanthas—the de facto capital of Good—needs to tighten the ship.
Interestingly enough, this feels a very post-9/11 interpretation of Chronicles. For all Krynn’s polarised alignment, this is a very clean and conventional war: conquest, occupation, changing colors on the map. The idea of asymmetrical warfare doesn’t register (although, who knows, the kender did apparently assassinate Teode after all?).
Three—and this is sort of a two-parter—why are we ending the book on Raistlin? According to all the structures and traditions of epic fantasy, he’s not the hero. So why is he given the dramatic denouement; the emotional conclusion of the book? It doesn’t even add anything new to the plot—we’ve already learned he’s the child of (eeeeevil) prophesy and could infer that he would claim the Tower at some point. Nor does this have anything to do with, well, anything.
I think Mahvesh hit the nail on the head here. Raistlin might not be the conventional hero of the book, but he is the most interesting character. Which flies in the face of fantasy: he wasn’t in half the series, his evolution takes place offscreen, and he’s progressed the wrong way. But—and his place in these micro-chapters proves it—he’s clearly a reader favourite, and the authors know it.
Four—and this is the second part—why? Raistlin is a deliciously unconventional character in an epic fantasy series, so why is he a (‘the’?) clear reader (author?) favourite? I think two of our guests have hit it on the head already, as both Damian and Jason talked about the lingering appeal of Raistlin. There’s something about his dark defiance that strikes a chord: the triumph of mind and will over brawn and predestination.
Furthermore, to give credit to Dragonlance’s unusual construction, the game-like ethos means that all the characters are important, and they all have their chance to take the spotlight. We’ll get to it in the wrap-up, I think, but despite the rigid alignment, railroaded plot and traditional structure, there’s something wonderfully egalitarian about Dragonlance. Everyone contributes, and in their own special way. Which means unconventional non-heroes like Raistlin get a chance to make their mark.
What about you? Why do you like (or dislike) Raistlin?
Anyway, we’ve dragged this out as long as we can… we’ll be back next week with our final thoughts. Please join us with yours!
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.