Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

DRAGONS OF THE HIGHLORD SKIES

A novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (2007, Wizards of the Coast)

After setting a trap for the Knights of Solamnia, a Dragon Highlord goes in search of her former lover, whose alliances are with a different god than hers.

 

 

Read July 27th to August 18th, 2015 on my ipod  
    I always remember liking Kitiria's character, and this is for the most part no different. However, I am starting to see why the stories of these books were left out of the main Chronicles.

Spoiler review:

Although the rating might not indicate it, I think this book was better than the last one. Maybe I'm just not quite as interested in the dwarves, and more interested in humans, which this book defers to more. Of course, Kitiria is a fun character to watch in action. She doesn't take any backlash from anybody, and takes her own initiative on what's important to her. But she has a soft side, too. She likes her creature comforts, and I think she fights in the war to satisfy her own lusts for free pampering than anything else.

Of course, it turns out that Tanis is far more important to her than anything, and her obsession over him nearly costs her everything. The only part about Kitiria that I really didn't like was her teenage-girl stereotype mooning over Tanis. She couldn't think straight, and didn't even listen to sense from her dragon, Skie.

Kitiria gets frustrated very early on by Emperor Ariakis, and his cautious way of handling the war in Solamnia. So when he hatches a plan that is supposed to make the Solamnic leaders insane, and tells her to execute it, she does it her own way. The first part is to tell Derek Crownguard about the Dragon Orb, and in this, she is careless enough to give him her full name, and though she worries about it, that doesn't cost her anything in the end.

But the Dragon Orb is in the deep south, in an antarctic environment. In her arrogance, she doesn't even think about the cold she is about to enter, and it nearly costs her her life. The story of Feal-Thas, the dark-elf wizard dragon highlord who is in possession of the Orb, is tragic, but he turned inward to selfishness instead of the harder road of forgiveness. It costs him here. But he heals Kitiria, because she comes on orders from his master, Ariakis, and thus the Dark Queen, the goddess of evil.

However, he has enough pride and arrogance of his own that he will not give up the Orb willingly. So Kitiria vows to fight the guardian he has placed around it (to protect himself from the Orb, not to prevent it from being stolen), and she actually defeats it. Of course, she couldn't die, and the Orb had to end up in the hands of the Knights, so the outcome was inevitable. The battle was rather anti-climactic, and something we've seen time and again. The guardian takes her innermost uncertainties and sets them against herself. I can't see the guardian being much of a match against Feal-Thas, either. Although she kills it, the draconian guards have to heal her from her massive wounds.

Derek, along with his friend Brian and an old friend who serves his opponent in the Knights' Council, Aran, travel from Solamnia to Tarsis, an ancient city, in order to search for information about the Dragon Orb. I think theirs was the best part of the story. Derek was so easy to loathe, being the most arrogant and up-tight character I've encountered in a long time. Brian was the easy-going Knight who wonders how he could make himself better, and always offers excuses for Derek, as well as trying to mediate between the two other Knights. Aran is always looking for a drink, and has obviously seen too much of the world. He can easily call Derek an idiot without retribution, as he's known the man for a very long time, but is sworn to follow him regardless. His sarcastic remarks were always really funny.

They get to Tarsis around the same time as Tanis and the other heroes of the lance get there. The Knights make their way to the Library, where Lilith the librarian manages to stand up to him. He can't get what he wants because she doesn't know how to find it, though she knows from her god of neutrality that the information does exist there. In trade, she asks that the Knights find Tasslehoff, and Derek nearly blanches about finding a kender and bringing him to a library. Meanwhile, she and Brian fall in love.

As it happens, Tanis and the others are captured because the head of the city is under the influence of the draconians, and it is an easy matter for the Knights to rescue Tasslehoff, Sturm and Flint. Tasslehoff of course has the magical glasses that he found near the end of the last book, and he can read all sorts of languages, finding enough information about the Dragon Orb to convince Derek that it is real. As always, Tas was a highlight of the book, being so funny and living life in the most innocent (and guilty) way possible.

Kitiria arrives at Tarsis, following Tanis, just as the red dragons are attacking, initiated by Fewmaster Toade, whom Kit had recommended for promotion to dragon highlord. I'm sure now she's regretting it. But she regrets even more when Tanis escapes on griffon-back and she sends her blue dragons after them -they end up empty handed, and even Skie abandons her after her lack of judgment in going after Tanis. She travels back to Nerakis using another dragon, summoned to a trial by Ariakis and the other highlords. Ariakis thinks that Kitiria teamed up with Tanis and the others to kill another dragon highlord (Verminaard from the previous book), because he finds out she's been hiding her relationship with them from her past. Of course they find her guilty, and sentence her to death.

With help from Ariakis' witch, and unknown to the Emperor, she escapes, causing a huge uproar in the Dark Queen's temple in the process. Of course, when she was imprisoned, Kitiria tried to make a deal with the Dark Queen to get her out of her cell -she would travel to convince Lord Soth, the Death Knight, to join their cause in the war. Once she escapes thanks to the witch, the Dark Queen enforces that deal, even though the witch had been spying on her and had taken it upon herself to let Kitiria go free. Takhisis even brings Skie back to her.

The battle to win over Lord Soth isn't very long, and felt almost like an appendix to the main story. It, too, was quick, and quite easily solved, though Kitiria was very nearly dead by the time he surrendered to her. I think she demonstrated enough talent and ingenuity, quick thinking and common sense, not to mention determination and bravery, that he accepted her as worthy.

The battle to win the Dragon Orb was more satisfying. When the knights, Sturm, Tasslehoff, Flint, Laurana and her brother, and Elistan arrive in the ice-bound lands, they meet the people who dwell there, who thankfully help them keep warm, as they were as unprepared for the cold as Kitiria was. But Elistan brings with them the knowledge of the true gods, and that is enough to convince the people to go to war with Feal-Thas, despite his walrus-men and wolves. Derek plans to abandon them in the fighting in order to recover the Orb -of them all, he is the least interested in knowing or believing in the return of the gods;  he believes they never existed in the first place. The attack goes according to plan, as Tasslehoff uses his glasses to see Feal-Thas through his wolf disguise, and the dark elf is killed. In the meantime, though, both Brian and Aran are killed. The ice-people use the power of the gods to melt Icereach Castle, and destroy any influence it may have in the future.

And so Derek returns to Solamnia with the Orb, which causes dissension among the elves (who also wanted it), and among the Knights themselves. Tasslehoff (who feels proud throughout the book at being needed and wanted, for a change), goes to be reunited with Tanis and the others, and Kitiria will presumably return to Ariakis even stronger than before, with Lord Soth at her side.
 
   

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