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DRAGONS OF THE DWARVEN DEPTHS

A novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (2009, Wizards of the Coast)

The companions travel to the dwarven kingdom under the mountains to try and persuade them to receive human refugees, not realizing that the draconians have already infiltrated their ranks, and a draconian is impersonating a dragon highlord.

 

 

Read December 26th, 2014 to January 9th, 2015  
    This was Dragonlance Lite. It was nice to see all the companions again, but it didn't have the punch that any of the other books had, nor did it seem pertinent. Still, the characters were completely recognizable, and seemed true to form.

Spoiler review:

This book picks up where Dragons of Autumn Twilight leaves off. I don't remember the exact sequence of events, because it's been a while since I've read the amazing Chronicles and Legends series. But I do remember key moments, and it seems to me that the book picks up on many things that have been revealed about the various societies of Krynn over the many years since the first trilogy was released. One example of that would be, I believe, the different sub-species of the dwarves. Or Raistlin's knowledge of certain things and events come from the spirit hidden inside him, that the authors probably knew about when the wrote the first series, but didn't come into effect until the end of the Legends, and expanded on in various other stories.

The first part of the book takes place in a ravine not all that far from Pax Tharkas, where the heroes led the refugees of that city as the draconians were in chaos. The great debate is what to do next. Many people want to stay, but they don't know if the ravine is safe. Even though they have caused rockslides and avalanches to block the way they took into the ravine, a dragon makes its appearance, showing them that the army can get to them regardless.

Tanis, Flint and Sturm go to find the lost realm of the dwarves, Thorbardin, which has been sealed up for 300 years. Raistlin thinks he knows the way in, from a different direction, so Caramon follows him out of the ravine to a hidden passage, where they find a magical helmet that Sturm puts on, infusing him with the spirit of an old dwarf prince -who happens to know the way into the mountain! Tasslehoff gets to tag along unintentionally as Tika follows her crush Caramon into danger. I thought Tika took Tas' Rabbitslayer knife to defend herself with when she went back to camp with news of the impending attack, but the kender still has it much later on in the story. I don't remember the draconians desire to rape human women in the original books, and it felt out of place here. I wonder if this was set up as part of another dragonlance novel.

Riverwind and Goldmoon have to then convince the refugees to leave the apparent safety of the ravine to Flint's pass. They arrive at a very dangerous crossing just as the dragon-mounted draconians attack, and make it just in time. The recently-arrived gods help them by giving them a blizzard, in which the dragons won't fly, allowing them to make it to the steps of Thorbardin.

The bulk of the rest of the book takes place within the troubled dwarven depths. Immediately after entering, they are set upon by evil dwarven wizards, outcasts of the society who live in squalor. Frightened off by Raistlin, they are replaced by the best of the clans, led by a dwarf who took the name Kharas, because he felt that he was destined to find the legendary hammer that was once used to forge the dragonlances, and is a symbol of the right to rule the dwarven nations. They are pelted from above by the wizard dwarves on their way to the Council, to whom they present their case. Flint meets Reorx in an abandoned temple, strengthening his resolve in the return of the gods.

The enemy in this book, aside from various smaller obstacles, are the draconians and the Queen of Darkness, who wants to take over all the realms of the world. It was she who contacted the dwarf wizards, and had them open secret tunnels to let draconians inside, when everyone else thought the kingdom was sealed. Dray-yan, the deceased dragon highlord's chief draconian, takes his form using magic, hoping to be promoted when he is revealed. He plots to take over Thorbardin, and sends in an army to take care of the companions and the other dwarves. But Raistlin notes the poison mushrooms in their stew, and take a draconian captive, so while they are expected to be dead for the invasion, instead the whole dwarf kingdom gets to see the lizard-beast and prepares.

Kharas and Flint, followed unwanted by Tasslehoff, go in search of the Hammer of Kharas. Again the magical helm tells them how to get through the gate to the floating tomb where it is hidden. Flint figures out where to find the hammer pretty quickly, and with the help of the kender, manages to swap it with a fake one that the young Kharas had fashioned in its image, and which Raistlin magically altered to seem like the real one. He lets Kharas "find" the hammer, so that he can reunite the dwarven nations, and Flint can take the Hammer back to the Knights of Solamnia to create new dragonlances.

The floating tomb is a bit of a puzzle to me, as nobody could find a way inside, yet if floats open to the air outside the mountain, in a glade formed when a tunnel collapsed high in the peaks. Wouldn't one of the evil dragons, or even eagles or other birds be able to spot the entrance to Thorbardin from the air, if they knew to search for it? Couldn't somebody desperate enough try to jump from the cliffs onto the tomb?

I always enjoy the kender Tasslehoff, and this story was no exception. We see a bronze dragon killed, but the characters don't know what it is. In the king's tomb, Tas comes across golden dragon, protector of the hammer of Kharas, but whom he sees in his true form thanks to rose-colored glasses, but he can't talk about it to anyone, as he is bewitched into saying "wooley mammoth" instead of "dragon", and nobody wants to hear about his mammoth tale again! The good dragons don't yet know of the deception.

The attack of the draconians takes place when Flint and Kharas bring the Hammer to a sacred temple to reveal it to all. Being warned of the draconians, and now believing the companions, the dwarves find the new tunnels and destroy them, killing countless draconians. This limits the invasion to a much smaller number, which is easily defeated, though Kharas dies and Flint kills Dray-yan.

In the middle of all this, Riverwind was taken captive and tortured by the dwarven wizards, but is rescued and due to all their courage and warning, the dwarves will probably allow the refugees into the mountain.

I don't remember what is mentioned about Thorbardin in the next books of the Chronicles, but it's nice to see the story of the Hammer told, even if the authors were constrained about what they could do to the companions. Although this turned it into a light version of the Chronicles and Legends, it was really nice to see the characters back together and interacting.
 
   

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