Maybe I’m strange, I’m willing to admit that, but often the middle book of a trilogy is my favorite. The first book is usually the setup, and the last is where all the loose ends get tied up. But the middle book is the one where the journey happens, and there’s something special about a journey, especially in a fantasy novel. War of the Twins has always ranked high on my list of favorites in the Dragonlance universe, so it was mostly a pleasure to listen to it again. I say mostly because the narrator on the audiobook that I listened to pronounced so many names incorrectly. It was a distraction that often pulled me out of the story, but I love the characters well enough that I was able to overlook the reader calling everyone’s favorite kender “Toss.”
War of the Twins (Dragonlance Legends, Book 2)
Publication Year: 1986
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
This book picks up right where Time of the Twins left off. Raistlin, Carmamon and Crysania have been transported to the Tower of High Sorcery about 100 years after the events of the Cataclysm. This is still more than a hundred years before the events of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, so this is a time when the gods have still not returned and the world is in chaos. Raistlin plans on resting up and then entering the portal to the Abyss, but his plans are thwarted when he goes upstairs to the laboratory and discovers that the portal has been moved.
Oops. You’d figure that someone as detail-oriented as Raistlin would have known that the portal wasn’t in the tower, but maybe he was distracted by the smoking hot cleric whom he had to charm in order to get her to help him open the portal.
Whatever the reason, Raistlin convinces Astinus to reveal that the portal has been moved to the magical fortress, Zhaman, out in the Plains of Dergoth, near the dwarven home of Thorbardin. Raistlin also manages to convince his brother to be his bodyguard. It’s like old times for Caramon, sort of, and the twins and Lady Crysania head south toward Zhaman.
Meanwhile, Tasslehoff, who was last seen watching the fiery mountain descend over Istar, awakens in the Abyss. He has a little chat with Takhisis, and we learn that since Tas has come back in time, she is now able to alter history and take over the world. She locks up the kender with an gnome named Gnimsh, who is a failure in life because all of his inventions work. The gnomes in Dragonlance are all over the place. An entire race whose main purpose is comic relief (just like the kender) but since we never have a gnome as a main character, the entire race seems like a caricature. In any case, Gnimsh is able to fix Tas’ magic time-traveling device (that was only supposed to work for Caramon) and they flee the Abyss.
As the Brothers Majere head out of the city they encounter some thugs that want to take Crysania as their own comfort woman. Caramon kills the leader of these thugs and forms an army so they’ll have some protection on their way to Zhaman. Raist isn’t happy about this because he is going slowly mad as he struggles to decide if he’s really Raistlin or Fistandantilus. Crysania, who spends most of this time fending off advances from Caramon while simultaneously posing as Caramon’s witch/girlfriend, heads off to a village where almost everyone has been killed by a plague. She manages to convince one dying man that the ancient gods still exist, but that person is so bitter that he refuses her healing. Weis and Hickman spend a lot of time convincing us that the past cannot be altered and that Raistlin is going to die badly at the end of this book.
Caramon’s army captures Pax Tharkas, a fortress we saw way back in Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and team up with a bunch of evil dwarves that betrayed the rest of their people. Again, the idea that an entire race of people has the same character traits is a bit of a stretch for me, but my feelings of nostalgia at the Dragonlance series mostly compensates for this bit of poor characterization. The dwarven hero, Kharas, whose tomb we finally saw in Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, leads a band to assassinate Raistlin, but the attempt fails when Crysania heals her favorite evil wizard. About this time Tas and Gnimsh arrive and Raistlin locks them up in the dungeon. Well, he kills Gnimsh, knowing that a gnome’s time-travel device causes the explosion that killed Fistandantilus, and then he tortures Tas until the kender reveals that Takhisis is ready and waiting for him in the Abyss.
There’s a big battle at the end, and Caramon’s army is all but destroyed thanks to Raistlin betraying them. Caramon finally realizes that his brother cannot be redeemed, so he decided to take Tas and head back home to his own time. Before he does, however, he asks Crysania one more time if she wants to abandon this madness. She does not. Raistlin opens the portal and the same moment that Caramon activates the time-travel device. The magics work against each other and there’s a big explosion as the book ends.
I said it above, this is my favorite book in this trilogy. I get happy feelings every time I read it, and while a great deal of that is because of nostalgia, I think any fan of this serious would be crazy not to read this one. I’m giving it an A even though the time-travel logic is wonky at best and all of the races except humans are cookie cutter.