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Thread: Is Dragonlance too dark and depressing?

  1. #1
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    Default Is Dragonlance too dark and depressing?

    It's occurred to me that the Fifth Age has not really been too similiar to the Dragonlance I remember from my childhood. The latest book Amber and Blood has been reinforcing this idea for me and I'm actually not sure that I really think it's still the same place I used to know and love. It's just too gosh darn DEPRESSING.

    For me, the problem actually started with The Solamnia Trilogy. What bugged me most about that story was the naked evil of our anti-hero protagionist. It seemed decidedly at odds with the rest of the world because, not only did it seem to take place elsewhere, it's protagionist is a rapist.

    *pause*

    A rapist whose got Coryn (whom I very much enjoyed in her novel), his own kingdom, and apparently is able to do what "goody goodies" like the KOS are not able to. On every concievable level, this is a smack in the face to what the KOS represent. It's like Luke Skywalker reviving the Jedi only to need a Sith Lord to protect it because Good is Dumb *Dark Helmet voice*

    Then we get to the recent Elven Exiles trilogy. It's not as bad but there's a serious lack of uplifting heroism in the book. Gilthas was destined to be the next great King of the Elves and all he's managed to prove is so far that he's really really bad at getting anyone to follow him. I don't even think the trilogy ended per say, it just sort of stopped. Porthios is mad, his wife hates him, and the elves are as bad as they were at the start.

    The Amber and Etc. Trilogy is just icing on the cake. When Margeret Weiss rights a fundamentally depressing book, I start to wonder if there's something seriously wrong. The book is excellent horror for the first two books. Majere's Monk Rhys is wonderful and Nightshade is a wonderful Non-Innocent Kender (a nice change of pace).

    But fundamentally, the book's values seem to be seriously screwed up. Mina's ending is to become a psychopath. Now, I know she's Neutral Good AND Neutral Evil but a person who murders one day and saves another the next is still a murderer and we'd lock that person away. Worse, this "Balance" is treated as fundamentally better than good. While that's a concept as old as Melbione and Gary Gygax loved it, Good has never been portrayed as inferior either. Gilean's Ascendency was irksome enough but really Mina does appear to be just nuts at the end. Surging back and forth between Good and Evil isn't a choice. At least in the Dragonlance world.

    Is it disturbing I think the most traditionally heroic and noble book series since the War of Souls ended has been The Minotaur trilogy?

  2. #2
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    Dragonlance needs to be dark and depressing, so that the fundamental message of searching for hope comes through. The whole point is that the world is closing in, and through perseverance and the gods (or your own internal strength), you can overcome it all.

    DL's not a heroic series, it's a survival series.

    And of course balance is better than good. It's been like that since book 1 =)
    Of course, I also think of dragonlance as the perfect hindu fairy tale, so...

    i also disagree re: the elven series. That, more than any book in recent memory, is the pure DL story. a people is nearly destroyed, and is turned against itself, and manages to pull itself out of hell into survival and glory.

    Amber and Blood, though, is not a dragonlance book. It's a book set in the dragonlance world, but it needs to be taken on its own.
    Last edited by talinthas; 07-11-2008 at 02:11 PM.
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    Doug Niles' new dwarven trilogy is excellent. I'd consider looking into that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talinthas
    Dragonlance needs to be dark and depressing, so that the fundamental message of searching for hope comes through. The whole point is that the world is closing in, and through perseverance and the gods (or your own internal strength), you can overcome it all.

    DL's not a heroic series, it's a survival series.
    I'm not sure that's the way I remember it. The first series results in a bunch of rag-tag adventurers destroying the Queen of Darkness' forces. The Legends Trilogy also is a story of tragic love that ultimately triumphs over the ambitions of the most powerful man in the world's history. Even Dragons of the Summer Flame continues the theme of Good defeating the Ultimate Eviltm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talinthas
    And of course balance is better than good. It's been like that since book 1 =)
    Of course, I also think of dragonlance as the perfect hindu fairy tale, so...
    Actually, you raise a very good point. Fizban the Fabulous as the Embodiment of Good is the Embodiment of Balance rather than Good. He respects Free Will, he constantly works towards Moderation, and Mercy towards Evil while also working to better embodying the best qualities of the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talinthas
    Amber and Blood, though, is not a dragonlance book. It's a book set in the dragonlance world, but it needs to be taken on its own.
    I read your essay about how it's a personal journey for Margeret. More or less, I don't see really what's non-Dragonlance about the thing. It's pretty similiar to everything else we've seen in Dragonlance. Spiritual journeys are part and parcel for the series.

    1. The first series is Tanis.
    2. The second series is Caramon and Raistlin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by talinthas
    DL's not a heroic series, it's a survival series.
    Maybe to you Tal, but you are a most unusual DL fan. You are very fond of saying you are a fan of world, but most of us are fans of the characters - just count the Raistlinites or the companionites or the solamnicnites. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun! ). I agree with Willowhugger, Dragonlance is a series about good fighting evil, not triumphing over it certainly, but the ceaseless ongoing fight. (Here I was thinking I would never find any other reason to use the jedi smiley than it's cool, thanks Uzi!) Heroics is as good a one word summation as any other.

    And yes Willowhugger, I agree there has been a serious lack of true heroes of late, Kerianseray my former favourite of the new breed - thanks to the brilliant The Lioness, was turned into a raving loon in Elven Exiles. I found that Jaymes Markham started off quite an enjoyable anti-hero in Lord of the Rose, but fast sank becoming as you say a rapist amongst other villainous things. And honourable true knights for some truly daft reason follow him and again like you said, Coryn does too. Oh and then there is Shinare being the replacement knightly sponsor, this says to me that knights are not even going to try be heroic again.

    That all said, I do believe there are some heroes left in Dragonlance, you just need to look harder these days is all. Willowhugger you mentioned Rhys and Nightshade, but I have a great fondness for Hytanthus Ambrodel. I also love Amergin from The Middle of Nowhere, a truly honourable elf, I just wish he'd put in an appearance in Elven Exiles.... *Sigh* My current favourite however is Eldako, son of Tho-ket, a true hero from the Taladas trilogy. Bear in mind I am behind in my DL reading lately, so I can't speak on a lot of the really recent novels.

    So do I think Dragonlance is too dark and depressing? Not yet, but it is slowly heading that direction.
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    It's funny, the usual criticism I've heard of Dragonlance is that it is almost cartoonishly cheery and simplistic (maybe that's why they've changed course in recent works?). For example, in 2nd Edition, there were priests of false gods. Called that, or called heathen clerics. It seemed as if even the heathen clerics themselves would call themselves priests of false gods, as if they knew what they were up to and were just behaving like mischievous children or something--not that this is cheery, just a pretty simplistic idea of what your opponents might be thinking.

    The only death of a major character in the original trilogy is foreshadowed plenty, and we're immediately told not to grieve about it--again, as is appropriate in a book for children, who you don't want to upset too much.

    Less appropriate perhaps is the fight in the very first chapter, in which the companions are laughing and joking over the slaughter of a goblin . . . that was a little awkward to read to my nephew . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willowhugger
    Is it disturbing I think the most traditionally heroic and noble book series since the War of Souls ended has been The Minotaur trilogy?
    Welllllllllll.... I don't know about you, but I think of dragonlance as the quintessential happy story where a new race of war-driven enslaved mutant offspring despised by the perfect parents rise up to power, establish themselves as equals among others, and begin to kick others in the tail like happy draconians they are.

    I think it's a perception of depressing because you really can't destroy evil in Dragonlance. Doing so is as dangerous as the kingpriest destroying evil. But at the same flip of the coin, you can't destroy good. Good will always rise up to defend against Evil. So, you will always find heroes who strive over adversity. Dragonlance is then different than say Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings where

    *spoilers*




    good defeats evil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakey
    Less appropriate perhaps is the fight in the very first chapter, in which the companions are laughing and joking over the slaughter of a goblin . . . that was a little awkward to read to my nephew . . .
    I noticed that too. Tas has an almost schizophrenic way of alternating between childlike innocence and cheerful goblin/draconian/etc killer.

    Personally, I think Tas would have been better written as a character who avoided hurting others at all costs, and perhaps suffered a lot of personal trauma if ever forced to fight. It would have fit better with the rest of his personality.

    But I suppose that's what Mr. Hickman calls "the dice rolling in the background"--Tas is still based on a D&D character, and D&D characters HAVE to have viable combat abilities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weldon Chen
    Dragonlance is then different than say Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings where

    *spoilers*




    good defeats evil.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Dude, I was gonna read those!

  10. #10
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    Dragonlance also has the odd quality of not having a total conclusion.

    "And they lived happily ever after" is simply a lazy writer's way of letting everyone have a smile on their face while they run out the back door in hopes of either taking a break or running off to design the next setting.

    Only once was the DL setting itself ever brought anywhere close to a "conclusion", and although it wasn't a happy ending, it was a conclusion of one era and the transition into something else. I don't think it will ever happen again. No writer can give a "happy ending" because somebody else will have to stomp on it in order to generate conflict for the next book.
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