Tag Archives: The Dark Disciple

Amber and Iron

It has been nearly 18 years since I read the first book in the Dark Disciple trilogy. Crazier than that, only 18 years means the review is accessible! The remaining entries of the trilogy have sat on my to-read shelf for maybe as long as they’ve each been out, yet I’m not sure whether I ever would have read them despite my intentions, except D&D[1] is finally releasing more DragonLance source material, which means I am hypothetically all of those 18 years behind on the ongoing plot of the world. (Or they reset / went back in time? I have not, to be honest, read any of the new game material yet to check.)

The downside, if you clicked through, is that the prior book wasn’t, you know, very good. One thing I’ve hoped as things go forward is that the authors were trying to bring the world back to something that makes sense, after the Fifth Age BS that TSR[2] forced on them in the late ’90s / early 2000s. Is that what is happening? I’ve only read a second book out of three, so my qualified answer is: maybe!

Amber and Iron is, on a moment by moment basis, at least okay. I consistently cared about what was happening with most of the characters (kender, monk, a handful of gods, and a, er, dark disciple), and I for sure liked some of the plot elements (the drowned Tower of High Sorcery at the bottom of the Blood Sea of Istar? yes please!). But when I step back and take a look at the story as a whole, man, it does not make a lick of sense.

Did they try to solve the vampiric cult thing? Sure, and reasonably so. Did anything else that happened make sense relative to the previous book? Maybe, but how should I know? Nearly 18 years, I believe I mentioned. Did anything else that happened make a lick of sense relative to itself? Nearly nothing, no, I don’t even know why it’s “and Iron” in the title!

And yet, perversely, I still want to know what happens next. Because it will make this book retroactively make sense after all? Could happen, but it’s not why. Because I want to know what happens to the characters? I sort of do, but that’s not really why either. Because I want to know what happens to Krynn? See, now we’re talking. I love that world in a way I love few others. It’s just always been my jam.

[1] Blah blah blah OGL controversy. For these purposes, take it as read that I super don’t care. If Weis and Hickman take Krynn to a different game system, we can talk then.
[2] Or maybe it was already Wizards of the Coast? How should I know?!

Amber and Ashes

For a lot of people, the DragonLance series has not been a high point in their reading careers, and for still more, it’s been relegated to the dustbin of history since the late ’80s. But me, I’ve always had a soft spot for those original authors, and the characters and world they created. So I know the more recent history, with a great huge novel devoted to killing lots of people and taking away the gods and the moons and whatnot, and then another trilogy revealing that the cause behind the preceeding events was not what it seemed. Now, there is a new trilogy in which nature abhors a power vacuum, and so Miss Weis is going to see to it that it has been filled.

Unfortunately #1, all the old characters are completely out of the picture these days, excepting the newly returned gods of course. But since they’ve never really appeared as characters before (well, okay, but these ones haven’t), it’s hard to have a stake of familiarity involved. Unfortunately #2, the land is so different as to be unrecognizable, littered with elven refugees and a Solace on the verge of becoming the southern Palanthas. Unfortunately #3, vampiric cult. Seriously.

But it’s not all that bad, it’s just that I have mildly higher expectations, and they have not been met. As generic fantasy, it’s perfectly inoffensive, and in fact still more reliably written than a portion of what I read these days. (Ask me three years ago, and it’d be better than two-thirds of what I read, so.) Amber and Ashes tells the tale of Mina (disciple of the One God in the years when Krynn had none) coming to terms with the lie that has dominated her entire life and choosing what to do next with the new life that has been left to her. It’s also the story of that vampiric cult I mentioned (which is not quite as bad as it sounds), the gods setting a new pecking order after recent changes, and the pawns they are using: in this case, a monk, a kender who sees dead people, and a death knight. (Yes, the kender can see him.)