Book review of Weis & Hickman’s Dragons of a Fallen Sun
Ah, Dragonlance. Dragons of Autumn Twilight was one of the very first non-choose-your-own-adventure-style novels I read, dating back to my pre-teen years. I’ve still got the original first printing paperback. Simply classic. Returning to Krynn is always a fun time for me, having read a healthy dose of Dragonlance in my life. I’ve made my way through the original Chronicles trilogy, the original Legends trilogy, Dragons of Summer Flame, The Dawning of a New Age, and more recently Dragons of the Dwarven Depths. I definitely dabbled in a few spin-offs as well, like Galen Benighted and the Preludes II books. The first six books I’ve read multiple times. So coming back to Krynn is always a bit nostalgic for me, but with that out of the way I can say I’ll be as fair as I can with this review.
For anyone who knows the Dragonlance world, Dragons of a Fallen Sun will be a welcome return. Everything you’re familiar with is here, from the non-human cast of elves, dwarves, kender, gnomes, draconians, minotaurs and the like to the warm feeling you’ll get when you return to Solace. The settings are some of the most well-known and well developed in fantasy books, and range from large cities to open plains to the underground tunnels of the dwarves and the forested protection of the elven lands.
Dragonlance novels are undeniably high fantasy. Dragons of a Fallen Sun is no different. You’ve got a fairly standard cast of rebel elves, conquesting dark knights, and mischievous kender. One of the main differences between this novel and the previous Dragonlance novels I’ve read is the presence of dragons. Dragons are seen in other Dragonlance novels, but they way in which they are presented as rulers over certain regions of Krynn in Dragons of a Fallen Sun differs from their typical appearances and presence in Krynn.
The novel moves fairly quickly, although one caveat I noticed is that at the beginning of a lot of the chapters, we’re reminded frequently of what the other characters are doing at that very moment. I personally don’t feel the need to be reminded continually of what else is going on in the novel. If I do forget (which can happen easily in books like A Game of Thrones), I’m usually delighted to return to a character I had let slip from my focus. Its actually a tool that some authors use to their advantage, and I felt that with Dragons of a Fallen Sun there was perhaps a bit of a “dumbing down” for mass audiences. I’m not sure if this is something Weis and Hickman would inject into their story themselves, or if it is a ploy of the publisher to appeal to a larger market. Either way, its there.
Even though this novel is set about 30 years in the future with respect to the original Weis and Hickman Dragonlance novels, they still manage to work three of the original eight characters from the Heroes of the Lance into the book. Its a difficult task to do for any author, but Weis and Hickman accomplish it beautifully in a manner that is at times funny.
Overall, while I thoroughly enjoyed my return to Krynn, there has been some opinion in recent years that the quality of the Weis and Hickman novels has declined. I had my first taste of this with Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, which is an even more recent book than Dragons of a Fallen Sun. It seems to me that there is a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Weis and Hickman with the recent Dragonlance books, and I would skeptically mention that it could be caused by Wizards of the Coast’s takeover of the Dragonlance books and the entire AD&D brand. Even though it brings me back to my childhood, I just can’t give high ratings to a book based on personal nostalgia, especially when it can’t compete with some of the other great fiction that’s out there right now from authors like Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, and Robin Hobb.
If you’re a Dragonlance fan, this book is definitely worth checking out, as there are a lot of familiar characters, settings, and stories. If you’re just getting started with fantasy novels, but would like to test the Dragonlance waters, I would suggest you start at the beginning with Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
You can purchase Dragons of a Fallen Sun over at Amazon.com.