Friday, July 15, 2016

The War of the Twins

The War of the Twins
Dragonlance Legends, Vol. 3
By Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman
Copyright 1986

The War of the Twins picks up in the aftermath of the Cataclysm and the destruction of the world above. Raistlin, Caramon, and Crysania are in the Tower of High Sorcery. Raistlin establishes his dominance over the ghosts who live there and is deemed master of the tower. He sets out to find the portal to the Abyss that will allow him and Crysania to travel there. The portal has moved.

After dispatching Caramon to reconnoiter the nearby city, Raistlin goes to the library where Astinus tells him the portal has moved to the great Dwarven city of Zhaman. Raistlin knows his history and knows there is going to be a great war fought there between Hill Dwarves, the Dwarves of Tharbodin, and an army of humans under the leadership of Fistandantulas. History is repeating itself.

As they leave the city, they are ambushed by a group of ruffians led by a half ogre creature. While some of the brigands discuss what they plan to do to Crysania, Caramon decides to challenge the big man to a fight. He beats the ogre and impresses the men who were once members of the now-discredited Knights of Solamnia. They agree to join him and start to call him general.

This suits Raistlin’s purpose. To travel safely, an army is a good escort. It will also help if they have to fight to get into Zhaman. Caramon picks up many followers along the way.

Meanwhile, poor Tasslehoff Burfoot ends up in the Abyss. He finds it to be a desolate place with no jails needed because there is no place to go. While there, he meets the gnome Gnish who fixes the time travelling device and lets them escape the Abyss.

The Army of Fistandantilus moves south toward the dwarven city. Meanwhile, the dwarves are trying to form an allegiance with their cousin Hill Dwarves to stop the human invasion. The bullheadedness of the respective leaders makes it impossible. The Hill Dwarves leave the negotiations and prepare for war against their cousins as food and gold supplies dwindle for both.

The Hill Dwarves join Caramon’s army and the group attacks Pax Tharkas, the fortress outside the Dwarf kingdom. With the help of the treacherous and traitorous Dark Dwarves, Caramon and his forces are able to secure the fortress.

The Dwarven hero, Kharas, leads a mission into Pax Tharkas to assassinate Raistlin. Kharas approaches Raistlin and delivers a dagger blow deep into Raistlin’s bow. Raistlin was defenseless because a Kender and a gnome show up in the middle of the struggle and distract Raistlin. Raistlin is taken to a chamber for his wounds to be assessed. Tasslehoff and Gnish are jailed.

Crysania is able to heal Raistlin. Meanwhile, Tas and Gnish both fall ill with a debilitating and killing disease in the dungeons. Raistlin is eager to talk to Tas and learn from his experiences. He goes to the dungeons and is able to save Tas. However, he lets Gnish die.

With the information he has from Tasslehoff about the Abyss, Raistlin is ready to access the portal and Crysania is ready to accompany him. They head there, with Caramon and Tasslehoff providing cover. Raistlin directs Caramon to return to his own time and resume his life. Caramon has resolved to do just that and let his brother go off on his quest for godhood alone. Then the group is attacked by rebellious dark dwarves. Raistlin and Crysania enter the portal. Tasslehoff activates the time travelling device to send them home. The explosion that results throws both groups off track of their desired destination.

The book ends up there as Raistlin and Crysania embark on their search for the Dark Queen Takhasis. Caramon and Tasslehoff will pick up their lives at home before the whole adventure started.

This book was like many second books in a trilogy. The characters are already introduced and developed. The plot has been put in motion. Now, the plot has to advance substantially to allow the third book to steadily bring about the climax. War of the Twins fulfills all those roles adequately.

One character develops substantially in this book and that is Caramon. Through the first entire trilogy and the first book of this second trilogy, Caramon has always been a bit of a muscle-bound doofus. He’s bound to his brother and endures his emotional abuse stoically, never letting it alter his loyalty.

Caramon climbs a steep slope in his character arc. He emerges as a leader as he builds and leads the Army of Fistandantulus. He plans logistics, supply lines, troop placements, and training. All this he does without soliciting advice from his brother.

He is also finally able to separate his fate from his brother. He accepts he can not, nor does he want to follow his brother into the Abyss. Raistlin’s dreams are beyond him. He resolves to take Tas and go home to live out his life with his wife.

Raistlin is revealed as fallible. He is susceptible to love. He constantly has to fight his feelings for Crysania to keep his eyes on his prize. He also makes a critical mistake that almost costs him his life when he loses his spell when Tas and Gnish arrive. We also see that it is not only dark thoughts and goals Raistlin harbors. When he allows Gnish to die, we see he is indeed, evil.

Tas is Tas is Tas and while he did develop emotional complexity in the first trilogy. However, he’s the same character now that he was at the beginning of the first book and, in fact, plays but a minor role in War of the Twins.

What this novel lacked was a great deal of action. The war, treachery, and double dealing were all interesting and the interactions on and off the battlefield were complex. However, the march, as they often are, was boring. The novel really lagged in the middle before arriving at the battle.

Like all second novels in a trilogy, it ended with a cliffhanger that indicated something is going to go wrong with either Raistlin and Crysania or Tas and Caramon.

The book served its purpose as part of the trilogy. Raistlin is in his final pursuit of the Queen. Caramon is on his way home with Tas. Something has gone wrong. It moved the plot along and developed the characters. Now, on to the Test of the Twins and the final installment.

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