I think the authors tried to make the world too complex.
Or they knew the complex world, but wanted to show every aspect of it.
The end of the book was good, and unexpected. But most of the book
was complicated (I like complex, but not this), and many things were
just way too convenient.
I didn't like the way that some of the things that were set up
in the short story collection were ignored or proved wrong. We were
set up for some interesting politics between the elves, of which we barely
heard anything. And Raistlin's child had so much potential that was
wasted. I like it when some of the characters know what's going on,
and are manipulating others. But here, nobody knew what was going
on. They simply reacted. Most of the book seemed so unnecessary.
After the great Chronicles and Legends, and a terrific setup in the short
stories, this was more of a letdown.
The world has changed. Once again, the people of Ansalon expect peace
to last forever. Tanis warned the Knights of Solamnia that there were even
more dangerous knights, allied with darkness, but with their type of honor, and
that they would attack when the time was ripe. But the good knights
ignored his warnings, and so when it came time to fight, it was the evil knights
who had the advantage.
Palin's two brothers were killed in a fight with the
Knights of Takhisis, and Palin was captured. As ransom, the evil ones
want the wizards to open the portal to the Abyss, so that the Dark Queen can
enter. Steel Brightblade, the subject of a terrific short story in The
Second Generation, son of Sturm and Kitiria (which makes him Palin's cousin),
owes Tanis a debt, so he takes Palin back to his kin. Their adventures
are not worth mentioning, though their philosophical discussions are very
interesting. Burying Caramon and Tika's children, Palin and Steel then
make their way to Palanthas, hoping to gain access to the portal where
Raistlin entered from so many years ago. They enter the tower, through the graces
of their gods and of Raistlin's spirit, and Palin and Tasslehoff get to enter
they eavesdrop on a council of the gods. It turns out that Chaos, father
of the gods, is loose, and is very angry. He wages war on the world, and
plans to destroy all that the gods begot - in other words, everything.
He calls forth shadow demons and all sorts of things that the world has never
seen. The only way to defeat him is to gather all of the peoples of
Ansalon together in an alliance, and there is no way that old racial hatreds
can do this. So they yield to Takhisis, whose knights already control
most of the world, and they have all of their troops surrender to her knights,
who are, interestingly, honor-bound.
Palin and Tass reenter the
world with Raistlin, to warn the others. The council and the gods reach
decisions of their own, and find a way that might defeat Chaos. Through
the rift that Chaos created in the world, the remaining knights of Takhisis
and Solamnia ride their dragons. Palin uses a spell to hold Chaos at
bay, distracting him, and Steel slices the god with his sword. It is all
in vain, however, because the drop of blood that they draw splatters across
the floor of the abyss, unusable.
Tasslehoff gets an honorable
death -at least a death worthy of a kender, who would only expect a most
interesting way to go about it: he gets stepped on by the giant Chaos.
Being flattened must have interested him immensely! But before he dies,
he stabs Chaos in the toe, drawing the blood that they need. Usha
captures the blood in the Greygem, and this gives the gods power over
Chaos. It is blackmail in a way, but they all agree to make up and
leave, if Chaos stops his destruction. For even though they have
captured his essence (I don't know how this is done with only a single drop of
blood), they apparently don't have complete control over him.
the book ends with no magic left in the world -at least none that the people have access
to. The gods have left, and there is only a single star visible in the
heavens, which is made from the fire that Flint and Tass stoke while telling
stories back and forth, watching over the world. It took me a while to
accept this, as it looks like the authors are doing what they did to the
Darksword trilogy -made it into a history of our own world, so that magic does
not exist, and people will grow into the ones that we know of in our
history. And I hate that idea. But I suppose that there are still
stories to tell before that happens.
Utterly wasted was Usha, the one
who legend has it was Raistlin's daughter, but it turns out that she
wasn't. The legend, however, helps her out in certain situations.
All the time spent in the Thieves Guild was boring, so much that I couldn't
wait for those parts to be over. And what kind of guardians are those
shadow-wights if they can be so distracted by Tasslehoff that they don't
notice Usha sneaking in to steal the Greygem? There were more than one
of them -why did they all attack one person?
The elves were mentioned, but
other than that, the story from The Second Generation involving Tanis' son
might as well not exist. The elves won't allow anybody in,
including other elves, but they sign a non-aggression treaty with the Knights
of Takhisis. What happened then?
There was another death of a hero of
the lance: Tanis dies in a dishonorable attack, worthlessly and to no
purpose. I know that the walls of the Abyss were being ruptured at the
end, when all sorts of dead people could escape it (for some reason, we only
heard of heroes -good and bad- escaping to lead their people), but why were
Sturm, Raistlin and Kitiria able to influence the world all throughout the
The best character in the book was Tasslehoff. He
was just as funny as in the rest of the novels, talking endlessly (and thus
giving us a little history without it feeling like exposition), constantly
"acquiring and finding" things that were not his, but which became
very useful at some points, and becoming obsessed with the Spoon of Turning,
which was actually just normal tableware, but which appeared to turn ghosts
and spirits away! Raistlin also has a dry wit, at one point saying that
he would surely be kept from a restful afterlife is he taught magic to a
kender! And after he hears about his supposed "child", he
remarks that it would be just his luck to make love to a beautiful woman and
not remember it!
I did enjoy reading about the battles that took place, the
movement of troops, and once the knights of Solamnia got organized, their
fights to defend their city. But the Knights of Takhisis were ultimately
more interesting. That they could hold onto an honorable conduct while
obeying an evil Queen is a startling idea, and that makes them a very
dangerous group, because they won't betray each other! Their wizards,
however, were under no such honorable code, and that is part of what
fragmented them at the end, and nearly got Steel killed. As it was, he
lived long enough to see Chaos captured. It seems that for now, all the
Knights are dead -every good and evil knight, as well as most of the
dragons. Now who will vie for control of the world?
The book as a
whole was way too long. I think I would have preferred another trilogy,
one in which we were able to see the battles, first between good and evil, and
then between the remainder and the forces of Chaos, but also some of the
politics, like that within the borders of the elven forests. I think
three books would have given us a much better story. This one book tried
to do too much, which made a lot of it distracting, and a lot more of it quite
boring. I like long books, and I like complex stories, but this was was
complicated, which is not at all the same thing. I see there is another
trilogy on the horizon. I can only hope that they see the problems with
overreaching, and correct them.