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.
Read September 21st to
27th, 2015 on
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
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
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.
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,
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.