Always on the lookout for a new fantasy series, I ran across Dragonlance a few weeks ago. It turns out the series isn’t new, but began way back in 1984 with Dragons of Autumn Twilight. This would spawn nearly 200 books in a shared universe. In the book world, a “shared universe” is a series of books written by multiple authors.
Dragonlance is set in the mythical land of Krynn. Like many “classic” fantasy tales, it is populated with races of humans and other creatures, battles between good and evil, and those who must rise up and decide the fate of the world. I know there are some who look down upon such stories as a “trope” — and I’m sure whatever they are reading is high-level, amazing literature — but the rise of heroes to battle evil is a timeless theme that crosses genres and speaks to our own existence.
What often makes or breaks a story is its characters. Dragons of Autumn Twilight introduces readers to Kyrnn’s most memorable band of friends, whom have already been trough much together before we drop in their world, only to be faced with far greater threats. Book 1 finds the heroes in one dangerous encounter after another — probably reflective of the authors being involved in creating Dungeons & Dragons games. As the series progresses, the epic scope expands across Krynn.
Where to start in a long series like this? Fans will always debate which are the best and issues of continuity. By design, every book doesn’t always build upon each other, or have the same characters, but are simply in the the same world. This is a good thing, because most people can’t invest time in reading a book series in its entirety if it spans decades and hundreds of books.
Many Dragonlance fans seem to agree that the core trilogies and sequels by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman is where to start, beginning with Dragons of Autumn Twilight. These books have been re-released for a new generation of fantasy fans and center around Krynn’s most famous characters. I would add to the fan list the six part Meetings series that focuses on the the individual heroes, their pasts and how they became lifelong friends. This allows for more character development than you can pack into the original books that must juggle everyone at once (even though these are prequels, don’t read them first).
If you have been lost in Middle Earth or Shannara, make Kyrnn your next stop and join the group of eight unlikely saviors of those lands.