Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragons of Autumn Twilight is about as generic a fantasy novel you can get. There are dwarves, dragons, humans, elves, old gods, new gods, and fights for good and justice. That being said, the book still manages to be interesting, have engaging characters, and – for the most part – live up to being worthy of a easy read.
A band of travelworn friends meets up after five years at an inn located in a town they all were familiar with and could call home. In this establishment, they catch up and are having a merry time until a mysterious set of strangers appears, followed by the unveiling of a mystical object of great healing power. The companions quickly jump to the aid of the weilder of the healing staff and they set off on a journey to flee from the Draconians, or dragon men. These lizard-like people are found to be part of armies growing to the north under the reign of an evil cleric and his dragon followers.
Through the journey, each character reveals a bit about their past, their personality, and gives a general picture of the world that they live in. We travel to the elven lands, through undereground caves and dwarven archetechture, and through swamps that lead to lost cities. In the end, an epic battle for good and evil ensues, leaving the adventurers victorious in battle – for now. It is clear when the book ends that this is only the beginning of a long chapter of darkness for the land.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a decent book. It is written well, which is one of its most redeeming qualities. The characters are fairly interesting; each has their own little idiosyncracies. The story has all the common fantasy archetypes, including dwarves, elves, battles of good vs. evil, dragons, and good old chivalrous knights. Each character is chasing their own past in a certain way, which will ring true to most readers. We all seek to relive the days we remember as happy – the trouble is that you can easily miss happy moments in current times by doing that.
There is an interesting town that resides in the treetops, but otherwise most of the descriptions of places are vague and simple. Yes, I got tired of reading the architectural descriptions in Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, but I find that the lack thereof in Dragons of Autumn Twilight left me a bit bereft. Where was the grandeur and utter beauty of the elven realm? Where was the intricacy, sturdiness, and ancient sensibility of the dwarven architechture? If you’re going to give me a generic fantasy novel, at least let me revel in the mediocrity!
Upon finishing the novel, I came across the cover picture the last page in my e-book. Here, I discovered that this was a Dungeons and Dragons book, which explains a lot of the well-used traits of characters and events. Not to say that the lore and fantasy elements of DnD are dull by any means – they are actually quite interesting when you take a look at them. I mean, what other game has a complete book of erotic spells and adventures to be played in tabletop form? DnD has expectations set, so the book fell well within that range. If I’m a fan of DnD, I want a specific type of novel written a certain way. The same held true for me when I read The Shattering, a World of Warcraft novel. It wasn’t, by any means, unique or something I had never heard before, but it was exactly what I wanted. I wanted to read the sort of adventure World of Warcraft has to offer, and I can only assume that DnD lovers would feel the same about this book. I’ve only dabbled in Dungeons and Dragons myself, so I can’t make a full comparison here.
In short, I’d recommend this book to someone wanting an easy fantasy read that doesn’t make you think too hard, a DnD fan, or someone who is looking to break into the world of fantasy and doesn’t want anything too overtly fantastical. Its appeal can span a range of ages from young to old and, if nothing else, the tale is light hearted enough to make you smile, make you care, and make you hope that everything comes out okay in the end.