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and legends were born...
(cool, two charismatic black wizards for my collection!)
"A beginning is a very delicate time."
In the beginning, heroic fantasy, daughter of legends, emerged from the waves of fairy mythology, under the pen of Lord Dunsany ("The King of Elfland's Daughter" ) and J.R.R. Tolkien ("Lord of the Rings", "Bilbo"). From her marriage with the game (and his royal following of dice and miniatures), was born the Role Playing Game, godfathered by Gary "100 points at Scrabble" Gygax. RPG in his turn gave birth to new legends, among which the one known as the DragonLance saga.
The story The world of the Lance, Krynn, is the theater of a never-ending war between darkness and light, order and chaos, through deities as numerous as whimsical.
At my left on the ring, the Queen of Darkness, the Great Temptress, who often appears under the appearance of a 5-headed chromatic dragon, Takhisis. You got it, she basically impersonates chaos, time, war, treachery, power lust, in short everything that adds some spice in a hero's life, who wouldn't have anything to fight against otherwise. Under her command, we find a hord of draconians (reptilian warriors of unknown origin - at least as the story begins), some Evil Lords definitely evil (some of them are undead, some are not human, and one of them is actually a former member of Heroes of the Lance, Kitiara...), and the dragons said "evil" (which means red, blue, green, black and white dragons, also called "chromatic" dragons).
At my right, wearing white, proudly bearing the banner of Good, Paladine (not to be confused with Palpatine, which has nothing to do with this story and is totally devoted to the Dark Side, and would probably be a follower of Takhisis if he lived in Krynn) *sparse claps*. To help him in his fight, we won't find a lot of motivated people, albeit a few brave individuals. As it happens, most traditionally "good" races of Krynn have given up the fight. Elves are, for most, standing apart from the game (hm, sorry, it's called a war) as it starts, reveling in their superiority complex *boos*. Dwarves are entrenching themselves in their mines. And the metallic Dragons (gold, silver, ...) remain curiously missing, leaving the sky open to their evil cousins, for reasons that will be explained later *shy boos - you just don't boo a dragon in case he would hear you...*
Paladine's hopes then lie in the hands of our Heroes of the Lance *enthusiastic claps from the crowd*. It is their duty to gather and organize the resistance against Takhisis' armies. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome as they deserve :
- Tanis Half-Elven, leader of the party
- Sturm Brightblade, the only Solamnic knight who really believes in the Knight's values
- Flint Fireforge, a very dwarfesque dwarf
- Tasslehoff Burrfoot the Kender (audience members check their pockets)
- Caramon Majere, strong warrior
- Raistlin Majere, his twin brother, a Red Wizard (which means neutral)
- Goldmoon, princess and high-priestess of the Que-Shu
- Riverwind, her paramour
- Laurana, a noble elf lady
- Tika Waylan, originally an inn maid
And the fight starts immediately, ladies-and-gentlemen with a conquest war led by the Draconians and Takhisis' army! The evil Dragons are doing a lot of damage in the countries conquered, and they don't meet a lot of resistance. The Heroes of the Lance need to find the DragonLance if they want to have any chance to reverse the situation. Otherwise they will never get to convince Elves, Dwarves, Humans and others to gather against Takhisis.
Ah but do I see, what an incredible new development?! Raistlin has just changed his wizard robes color! From Red he turned to Black! (claps and boos mixed all together) I must say that with his golden skin and amazing powers, he always stood apart from the Heroes, and the curse making him see people and things ravaged by time didn't help either his stand-aloneness or his mood. Not to mention that a clinging brother like Caramon can be nice when needed, but can also become quite a bore real soon. Will Raistlin also change of side? Oh my gods, it's terrible, he just betrayed the Heroes of the Lance! Will he join the ranks of the Queen of Darkness, as his sister Kitiara did before him? Yes? No? The suspense will be intense until he reveals his intentions in the castle where the Queen is supposed to appear thiSKRRIIIIZZZCROUIIK
*crackling, cut of the satellite connection*
Speaker : Due to technical problems, the broadcast was temporarily interrupted. Now the beam is restored, but a time-shifting occured in the dimensional exchange, and it seems that a couple of years have passed on Krynn during this short interruption. We apologize for the inconvenience. Back to you from Krynn, our correspondent : " ZKKRRRwiiiissh is amazing, what we saw during the last war. As I figured - and hoped -, this Raistlin babe turned to the Dark Side. Black robes suit him a lot better than red anyway (I wanted to make another show in addition, "Krynn Fashion", but no producer would be willing to pay for that, pheee...). He didn't really manage to win over, but here he's back with a vengeance. And the good news is : he's not alone. Well, he is, more or less. His brother is hardly more than a commodity for him, as is the kender and that silly priestess Crysania, useful for his schemes but that's about all. And all the rest are either his enemies or follow their own path which just happens to be parallel to his own for a while.
Now here is one interesting new party : another black wizard, a dark elf called Dalamar. Raistlin's apprentice, as we get to know him. He's just gifted, cunning and dark side-oriented enough to be a valuable apprentice to the golden-skinned bad guy. And handsome, too - not that it matters a great deal to Raistlin, actually, but his sister Kitiara won't fail to notice it. She's an arrogant, treacherous and ambitious b***, but she doesn't miss an opportunity, I'll give her that. What do I hear? Raistlin's new scheme would be to steal more power not only to overcome Takhisis, but to become a God himself? My, that's impressive! He might as well make it, the way he manipulates his so-called allies. I'd certainly become a lot more religious if that happens, and...
Hey, guys in white, what are you doing in the studio? No I won't go back to the little padded cell in the big white house! Help!" ZOUIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMM (larsen) Speaker : Err... Sorry for that new interruption, it seems our correpondent is... ahem... unavailable for the moment. Pressure, you know...
Comments To be honest, "Dragonlance" is not exactly in the same tone as this page. Not at all, in fact. It's not Discworld, after all.
It's been created to be a new background with "more dragons" for the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, and was one of the first example of a fantasy world depicted through novels, RPG adventures and other medias. But it became a best-seller because the first books were indeed good heroic-fantasy, with solid characters and stories, and a good story-telling, thanks to the first DL novels' authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Of course, then it became a trademark, and we all know what success does to a franchise. There may be good work in all that's been done about DragonLance, but it becomes a bit time-consuming to read it all when you're not sure that the magic will keep through various authors and characters. For myself I rarely collect everything about something, I have too many interests to do that, experience taught me that it was rarely worth it, and I usually look at the quality more than the brand sticked to a cover. So I mainly stuck to the first 6 novels of DragonLance and some stuff about Raistlin written by the original authors. Now let's be serious for a moment. From my very personal point of view, there are two main highlights in this series - or more exactly, two "deepdarknesses", considering who they are. As you may have guessed it from the text above, these are the two dark wizards, Raistlin and Dalamar.
At the beginning on the story, Raistlin is a red wizard, which means, on Krynn, that he is dedicated to neutrality. He's Caramon's twin brother, who is his exact contrary on many points. Caramon is a strong warrior, faithful and genuine. Raistlin was always a rather weak child, and grew up to be a man who trusted more his mind than his body, protected by Caramon for physical issues, protecting him whenever magic was concerned. In early years of the Company of the Lance, he was a regular wizard and shared his companions ideals. But it appears that he has changed - some time before the first trilogy - when he passed the tests to become a red master wizard. He came back from the last test with a damaged health, a golden skin, watch-hour shaped pupils and a curse that makes him see things worn and ruined as they will be - part of which inherited from a deal he made with evil wizard Fistandantilus, the rest being due to the other wizards who supposedly wanted to warn him that way against the dark side. And I thought that "wizard" came from "wise"... His behavior started to change afterwards, and he gradually turned to the Dark Side (it's not Star Wars here, but it's the easiest way to sum it up. In role-play game langage, he changed of alignement. On Krynn, he became a black wizard, instead of a red one). Margaret Weis, one the co-authors, admits that she decided that Raistlin was "her" character, and her commitment to his character development surely explains why he remains the most fascinating figure in the books. He's the kind of character that keeps the story from being too predictable.
Dalamar is the same kind of mysterious character with a personal agenda that is barely known of anyone else. But he has been granted less pages to evolve, since he appears in the second trilogy. Dalamar is a Dark Elf, which means, in Krynn, an Elf who turned his back to the Light they revere, and dedicated himself to black magic. He's thus a pariah to his folk - I really wonder why he would miss them at all, to be honest -, but became such a powerful dark wizard that Raistlin accepted him as his apprentice in his Waylan Tower. However, Dalamar has various loyalties. He seems to admire and worship Raistlin to a certain extent. But he's also a spy for the other Wizards who want to keep an eye on Raistlin (they are wary of him, for some reason that I can't understand... *ironic grin*). And he starts an affair with Kitiara, Raistlin's sister, who happens to be also Raistlin's enemy and a general of Takhisis. He will later have to turn against her when she will become too dangerous. But hey, only a fool never changes his mind. Dalamar is clever enough to recognize when his choices have been wrong, and to adapt himself. Which is a lot more than you can say about many usual fantasy characters, or "realistic" novels either. Apparently there is a novel about him, which I haven't read because it's not been published in French so far, and the reviews I read said it is doesn't add anything to what we know and is not very good (it's not a Weis-Hickman novel).
links Links checked / revised in December 2002
- dragonlance.com - unofficial, but very complete and great all the same
- Raistland - a whole site dedicated to my favorite Dark Wizard and to magic on Krynn, including an extensive gallery of fan-art.
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