It is time to devote ourselves to something very important to the Ministry.
Before you hit the x, let me start with some self-justification. During all my years working in secondhand book sales, and indeed new book sales, this series’ intricately illustrated, often shabby paper covers screamed mass-produced fan fiction of the worst kind.
In this part of my life, before I met and fell in love with the Ministry, I scoffed and avoided these dog-eared specimens. I dutifully tidied them in the shop and thought, what a waste of space. I never dreamed I would ever read one of those hundreds – hundreds – of Dragonlance titles.
I never thought I would get married, either, and now look at me, with a wedding planner in one hand and yes: a Dragonlance in the other. My love has opened my eyes and swept away my prejudices.
In other words, the Ministry, who has loved them since childhood and recently embarked on an eBay binge completing his collection, guilt-tripped me until I read one. Then he guilt-tripped me until I read another. Now I’m on my fifth.
There are more than 150 novels in this series, all an easy 200-odd pages, all chronicling the tales and population of the world of Krynn, written and edited mostly by the creators of Dungeons and Dragons. There are series within the series. Some are “sagas”, some are “chronicles”, some are “legends”. I know, right?
And yet the complexity of a well-created world, which I now know is the point of Dungeons and Dragons (thanks to a well-timed Community episode) lends itself well to book form and has earned my grudging respect.
These have action, humour and suspense in spades. Their regular characters (think of a sort of medieval version of the Goonies) are my friends, turned to on late nights, winter sick-days, holidays and any times calling for a comfort-read.
One character worth a special mention: the grating, legginged, topknotted, bouncing, thieving, chattering, lock-picking, scheme-ruining kender, Tasslehoff.
The writing is, frankly, poor in many ways. The writers (the only books in the series I have read are written by Weis and Hickman) have a dreadful habit of landing on an adjective or phrase they like, often a juicy one, and repeating it until it has quite lost its effectiveness.
The novels are badly edited and riddled with typos. This is serious criticism from your resident grammar nerd and would normally spell the death knell of the review. It is testament to the books’ imagination, characterisation, plotting and originality that I plough past them.
I will know I am a real convert the day I make the Ministry a serve of Otik’s spiced potatoes from the Dragonlance recipe book.
Yes, one of the books is a recipe book and yes, it is in our house.
Interested? Go on. Get your nerd on, visit a secondhand bookshop and grab one. Or grab five for your suitcase.
Disclaimer: If I have harmed any fans in the making of this post, I apologise. Dragonlance is hard to get your head around. Please let me know and I will rectify any damage. I might even make you spiced potatoes.