Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

DRAGONS OF THE HOURGLASS MAGE

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

Leaving his friends to die in a raging storm, Raistlin changes allegiance, and finds new ways to further his selfish cause, staying out of the grasp of the Dark Queen and helping her rivals.

 

 

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Read September 21st to 27th, 2015 on my ipod  
The authors have taken an interesting character and made him even more interesting, especially in that they could really get inside his head to explore his own selfish motivations, in a plot that goes behind the scenes of the original book.

Spoiler review:

Although still Dragonlance Lite compared to the original Chronicles and Legends, the series gets even better with its final installment. Raistlin isn’t a complicated character –he can always be counted on to do what is in his own best interests, but he also has a soft spot for his old friends, which is something he doesn’t want to admit to anybody, least of all himself.

The events of this book allow Raistlin to participate in some of the events in Dragons of Spring Dawning, in a way that the other characters will never know that he was there. He spends most of the book trying to convince himself that his brother is dead, though he probably realizes otherwise. When he hears news that they are not, he is conflicted- the guilt of leaving them to die is lifted and he is happy they survived the storm, but he doesn’t want the burden of having them around to interfere with his plans, which he knows they would disapprove of.

The book starts with Raistlin’s conversion from Red Robes to Black Robes, without the permission of the Conclave of Wizards. When they hear of it, they are not pleased, but throughout, they can do nothing about it. And Raistlin strikes a bargain with them near the end of the book that guarantees they won’t come after him, as he saved them from the failure of magic.

His story really starts when he travels to Neraka and is captured, as the state of affairs there is different from the propaganda. It is Iolanthe, Ariakis’ witch lover, who is called to take care of him, as nobody can get near him due to some protective spell that apparently comes either from the Dragon Orb or the Dark Queen herself. Magic users are not held in high regard in Neraka, even those with the black robes. The Tower of High Sorcery in that city is a small brick building housing three wizards, all of whom are useless. Raistlin spends time there cleaning the library, which looks like it has never been used.

It’s actually fun watching Raistlin move in and out of the different events that are overtaking Neraka, including an organization dedicated to good (which ends up including Iolanthe and several tavern owners), the death of the chief torture man (which ends with the death of the three black-robes as scapegoats, as it was a kender who actually killed him, and Raistlin let her go), and a plot by the Dark Queen to erase magic from the world. In the last plot, Raistlin has a large role, as he is selfish enough that he doesn’t want to be beholden to Takhisis for his magic –he quite likes calling upon her son and nephews for magic. But the only reason he helps to defeat the Dark Queen is because he knows he will always be her servant if she wins. He wants to be the master, as he achieves briefly in Test of the Twins. Even now, he dreams of becoming a god himself.

The story of Fistandantilus apparently came about after the original Chronicles were written, probably in the writing of the Legends. And so the authors modified Raistlin’s backstory a little, something I disagreed with in The Soulforge, because I think authors should have to abide by what they had already written. While it explains a lot, such as Raistlin’s bad health being due to Fistandantilus leeching part of his life force, his ability to cast spells beyond his experience, I don’t think it was really necessary. However, since they were incorporated into The Soulforge, they were given enough detail here to make it plausible. At one point, Raistlin traps Fistandantilus within the dragon orb, and suddenly his health is incredibly improved. Unfortunately, that weakens the effects of the Test, implying that Raistlin could have come out unscathed. Raistlin needs to take Fistandantilus back into himself, though, to release the green dragon whom he sets upon Lord Soth, who is attacking the Tower of Wayreth, until the magic returns. Fistandantilus finally betrays him for the last time in the dungeons of the Dark Temple. There, he takes on Raistlin’s form in the body of a dead guard, and with the power of Takhisis, takes Raistlin’s life force. Only at the last minute, due to training Caramon insisted he take, does he free himself, and kills Fistandantilus in his own body, which fools even the Dark queen.

The main characters from the Chronicles, who appeared in Dragons of the Dwarven Depths and Dragons of the Highlord Skies, do not appear here as main characters. But Raistlin often thinks about them. In Dragons of Spring Dawning, Tasslehoff claims that he saw Raistlin, and here we see it from the other point of view, and Flint actually comes to visit Raistlin. Raistlin offers to help Flint’s heart, but the dwarf refuses, and Raistlin is there in the Godshome, invisible, when he dies. It was a nice touch. I need to check how the actual events transpire, but there are times when Tanis and Caramon seem to hear Raistlin’s voice, even though he is hidden. Do these moments appear in the other book? If so, it meant that a lot of backstory was omitted from the original Chronicles. It’s interesting that it was only added now. Finally, Raistlin works with Kitiria for a little bit in this book, mostly in the plot to overthrow magic, which Kit never had any use for, anyway.

This is definitely the best of the three books. There was a lot going on, but it felt a lot more focused than the previous book, and more interesting than the first one. I suppose it is time to return to the original Chronicles, one of my favorite series of all time.
   

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