You weren't aware? Well, good news, you can read it while I write it, just go HERE.
Anyway, I have great love for the fantasy genre. In fact, you could say that I cut my reading teeth on fantasy. I mean, from age twelve all the way up through my early thirties, fantasy books were pretty much the only thing I read (apart from Douglas Adams, Stephen King, and the occasional Star Wars book).Yet, to be honest, I don't read much of it anymore.
But then, last summer, I began to get the kernels of an idea for Then a Penguin Walked In, and it got me all nostalgic for the books of my youth. So I've been trying, since then, to go back and read all those old books I'd read many times before. But here's the thing, I'd gotten rid of most of those books long, long ago. So it took a bit of doing, and the local library, to track some of this stuff down . . . and I've barely touched the surface.
However, what I started with was all three books from the Dragonlance Chronicles, and I got them on audio. So, to celebrate my first foray into the genre that got me started reading, I thought it would be fun to go back and visit those old tales, and then talk about them here.
I mean, these books were a huge part of my life from almost 20 years. They are a big part of who I am and how I write. So how about I share the love.
Full disclosure: Though I am a writer, when it comes to collecting my thoughts on the books I love, and then putting those thoughts down on paper, well, I've never been able to fully articulate that love in any kind of adequate fashion. Certainly not in a way that truly speaks to the passion I have for these books, and believe me, any book I talk about here, I have great love for.
So please keep that in mind as you go further.
Now, most lovers of fantasy will probably tell you that they got into the genre through Lord of the Rings. Not all of them, but most . . . at least most of those I've talked to over the years.
While I was aware of the Lord of the Rings when I first started reading novels for pleasure (the 1977 Rankin and Bass Hobbit animated movie being a big favorite of mine), I was introduced to the fantasy genre through Dungeons and Dragons.
More specifically, the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
Technically, I'd read the Hobbit (thanks to that Rankin and Bass cartoon) a few times before really diving in whole hog on this whole love for reading thing, but we'll get to that one later.
But in essence, the Dragonlance Chronicles were my Lord of the Rings. It was the series that made me want to read more, and then more, and then more and more and more.
The Dragonlance Chronicles are made up of three books: Dragons of Autumn Twilight published in November of 1984, Dragons of Winter Night published in July of 1985, and Dragons of Spring Dawning published in September of 1985.
My older brother, who was the D&D guy in the house, bought the books back when they were coming out, and in a fit of kindness, allowed me to read them.
Well, I was hooked. Here was a band of characters, some friends, some strangers, who are thrown together simply by being the in the wrong place at the wrong time, and due to a certain set of circumstances, find that it's up to them to go out and save the world of Krynn, the fantasy world where all of the Dragonlance stories take place.
Among our heroes you had the frail young wizard who walked the line between good and evil, his muscle-packed twin bother who would do anything for him, a noble knight, an aging irascible dwarf, a lovable Kender who didn't mean to steal everything in site (though he always did), a beautiful barbarian cleric and the barbarian warrior who loved her as much as she loved him, an elven princess who left the comfort of home for love, and the half elf that led them all.
During the series our band of heroes fight monsters and goblins and dragon men and dragons and evil spirits and all the stuff that made a fan of movies like Dragonslayer, Conan the Destroyer, Krull, and the Beastmaster very nearly swoon in sword swinging pleasure.
I mean, let's face it, my hungry early teen brain fell in love.
Caramon Majere is may favorite character in the series. I've always drifted toward the strong guy, be it fantasy novels or superhero teams. But Caramon was more than just the thick-headed muscle man. His compassion for his twin brother showed that beyond his joy at bashing monsters, he had a big heart.
Tasselhof Burfoot, the kleptomaniac Kender, is also one of my favorites. Not only do I sway toward the strong guy, I also enjoy the small agile archetype as well. Plus, Tasselhof was a laugh riot, especially when teamed up with Flint the dwarf or Fizban the absent minded wizard.
Tasselhof is also of a race unique to the world of Krynn. Basically, take a hobbit, slim him/her down, give them normal feet, and make them thieves who don't consider what they do as "stealing" but "finding what someone must have dropped", add in a supernatural ability to feel no fear, and you have the Kender. They are the nuisance race on Krynn that you can't help but love.
The copies my brother owned were the copies pictured above with the Larry Elmore covers. I still have the first one, though the cover has since come off.
Larry Elmore was the man as far as I was concerned when it came to fantasy book covers, and later in life I had a hard time picking up books that didn't have covers like his. Being a fan of comics as well, I loved seeing a fully fleshed out image of the characters I was reading about on the cover of the book.
After the Dragonlance Chronicles came the Dragonlance Tales, then there was the Meetings Sextet, Heroes, Heroes II, and so forth and so on.
Dragonlance then led me to the Forgotten Realms and the crap ton of books written by R. A. Salvatore that featured a dark elf gone good by the name of Drizzt Do'Urden.
To tease what's coming up next, I have the entire Belgariad and Malloreon by David Eddings to talk about. Then the Hobbit. I also have the Icewind Dale Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore on deck to read, as well as the greatest fantasy comic of all time, ElfQuest.
**Dragonlance logo artwork by BANESBOX