Dragons of Deceit

Oh man. . . Took me about a week to finally sit down and write this review. There's no way to sugarcoat this. Dragons of Deceit is by far the weakest Dragonlance offering from Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

The Dragonlance Chronicles were my gateway into the fantasy genre. It was my first year of junior high and I was twelve years old. Reading the original trilogy changed my life, so to speak. Dragons of Autumn Twilight was the first "true" fantasy novel I ever read. This was the book that made me fall in love with the genre, and I never looked back! Hence, these two authors will always hold a special place in my heart. Even though they haven't written anything that really captured my imagination since the conclusion of The Deathgate Cycle in 1994, I always give them the benefit of the doubt and give their new material a shot. Unfortunately, since then Weis and Hickman (together, solo, or with other collaborators) have often produced works of average quality at best.

The War of Souls trilogy was a far cry, both in quality and originality, from their popular Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends. That series was followed by The Lost Chronicles a few years later. It was a trilogy that would explore some of the storylines that were not part of the narrative of the original main sequence. Which boded well for fans eager to see Weis and Hickman recapture their erstwhile excellence. After all, they were going back to their old stomping grounds, the world of Krynn, during the War of the Lance. Alas, all three installments were mostly filler and no killer, and the whole series was disappointing.

The premise for Dragons of Deceit was quite similar and got fans (myself included) excited once more. After all, it was Weis and Hickman's first Dragonlance novel to be released in over a decade. Then came the whole fiasco, what with the publisher trying to shelf the project and prevent its publication. In retrospect, I have to wonder if the inherent quality (or lack thereof) of the books had anything to do with that decision. Because simply put, this is probably Weis and Hickman's worst novel to date.

Here's the blurb:

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman return to the unforgettable world of the New York Times bestselling Dragonlance series as a new heroine—desperate to restore her beloved father to life—sets off on a quest to change time.

Destina Rosethorn—as her name implies—believes herself to be a favored child of destiny. But when her father dies in the War of the Lance, she watches her carefully constructed world come crashing down. She loses not only her beloved father but also the legacy he has left her: the family lands and castle. To save her father, she hatches a bold plan—to go back in time and prevent his death.

First, she has to secure the Device of Time Journeying, last known to be in the possession of the spirited kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot. But to change time, she’ll need another magical artifact—the most powerful and dangerous artifact ever created. Destina’s quest takes her from the dwarven kingdom of Thorbardin to the town of Solace and beyond, setting in motion a chain of disastrous events that threaten to divert the course of the River of Time, alter the past, and forever change the future.

The first part of the novel sets up Destina Rosethorn as the main protagonist. It spans her early years prior to the coming of the dragons, the bloody conflict and the return of the gods, and the aftermath of the War of the Lance. As many other reviewers pointed out, though slow and at times a little boring, it's the first time that readers get a chance to experience a slice of life on Krynn. It adds layers to the tale and gives this small corner of Solamnia a more lived in sort of atmosphere. It's following Destina's father's death and the end of the war that the girl's world comes crashing down and then this books goes down the proverbial crapper. From that point on, the story is all over the place and almost nothing makes sense.

Characterization has always been Weis and Hickman's bread and butter. Over the years, these two have created a variety of memorable characters. One only has to think about the Heroes of the Lance; Raistlin, Caramon, Tanis, Sturm, Tasslehoff, Lauranna, and the rest of the gang. The original Dragonlance series also featured a number of great secondary characters such as Lord Soth, Dalamar, and Kitiara. The Darksword trilogy had Joram, Saryon, Simkin, and Mosiah. The Rose of the Prophet had Matthew, Khardan, and Zohra. The Death Gate Cycle featured Haplo, Alfred, Hugh the Hand, Xar, Marit, Zifnab, and more. These characters are the main reason why millions of readers kept coming back, begging for more stories from these two bestselling authors.

Unfortunately, Destina will never join the ranks of these unforgettable characters. Indeed, she could well be the dumbest protagonist in the franchise's history. Having lost my mother last year, it's easy to understand her pain and feel for her. But then to see her blundering around in a clueless yet hypocritical way, as she quotes the Measure at every opportunity and claims to hate magic at every turn, and yet her crazy plan requires the aid of various magical artifacts, it just makes you want to throw the book across the room. Initially, I hoped that the appearance of Tasslehoff and other familiar faces would help the plot. Alas, though he has always been silly in a good-hearted fashion, the kender's silliness takes a turn that stretches credulity to its breaking point. Add to that the time-travel aspect and you end up with a recipe for disaster. Literally.

True, hardcore Dragonlance fans will buy Dragons of Deceit no matter what people say about it. And I guess that in the end, this is what helped settle the lawsuit. But I have to wonder how an editor (the same one who edited GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire) could let such an uninspired addition to the Dragonlance franchise be released as it was. There were seeds of a very good story in this book. Yet it feels as though Weis and Hickman didn't even try to make them work. That they're simply going through the motions, never trying to accomplish anything worthwhile.

Another things that needs to be said is that they're not writing for teenagers anymore. Most Dragonlance fans are in their 30s, 40s, even their 50s. We have grown older and our tastes in books have evolved. It's the same with the Star Wars franchise. For once, just for once, I'd like for the powers that be to remember that and offer us material that we can enjoy and relate to as adults. Perhaps, if I was still fourteen, I would have loved this novel and would have overlooked all its flagrant flaws. But as an adult?

It's just plain bad. . .

The final verdict: 3/10

For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

You can read an extract from the book here.

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