Dragons of Autumn Twilight


What happened to fantasy novels like Dragons of Autumn Twilight? There is something to be said for stories devoid of complex political machinations, endless lineages, and inscrutable character motivations. The straightforward approach allows the reader to focus solely on the journey and wonder, to become enveloped in a fantastical world rather than concerned about retaining a mountain of fictional information.

I’ve read reviews which claim the characters of Dragons of Autumn Twilight are shallow and uninteresting, and I have to disagree. Each member of the party is unique and memorable: the grumpy dwarf, the mischievous kender, the sardonic and power-hungry wizard, etc. These characterizations may be viewed as stereotypical, but there is also something to be said for a stereotype. In the case of this story, those traits create memorable aspects that define and delineate the individual. I see the turmoil of Tanis – the constant battle of his heritage – to be interesting. Likewise the unfailing chivalry and devotion to tradition shown by Sturm. These characters will live much longer in my memory than a character whose personality and motivations are convoluted simply for the sake of imagined depth. Fizban is also one of the best characters I’ve read about in recent memory.

Like the characters in Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the plot itself is fairly straightforward. That said, it is the journey that makes this book worth the reading. From beginning to end, this is a tale of high fantasy adventure complete with undead and dragons and magic and swordplay. Being someone that loves Dungeons & Dragons, it was exciting for me to read about creatures and spells and recognize them from my own adventures. The companions’ search for the Old Gods, and their various experiences along the way, is compelling enough to keep the pages turning.

As much as I like modern fantasy literature, a lot of it shares the same major flaw: it is not fun. While authors like George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie are obviously masters of their craft, one could make the argument that their books are not exactly fun to read. Entertaining and shocking and mind-blowing? Absolutely. Dragons of Autumn Twilight is just fun. A large part of me wishes that fantasy would take a turn away from the grimdark and the age of high fantasy such as Dragonlance would re-emerge. At least, in the interim, these stories will always exist as a fantastical haven when the real world is grim enough.


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