Extremely Loud Opinions Presents: The One that Started It All
So....it's been awhile my dearest companions on my noble quest! Sorry to leave you all high and dry for a few months but my husband and I just bought a house and I've also just gotten a new job! Sadly those endeavors left little room for me to continue my quest.
However! The dust has settled and I have finished the first act of the first book in Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's iconic Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, Dragons of Autumn Twilight! And I mean...none of the covers are that tragic all things considered.
I am going to start out this review with a disclaimer because I know that Dragonlance has a ton of nostalgia value to a lot of people. My opinions are just that, opinions, and just because I may rag on the books I review doesn't mean I hate them or think they have no value. And if you think that Dragonlance is the best fantasy ever written, good for you. I am not here to change your mind or fight you on it. If it brings you the same joy that the Icewind Dale Trilogy brings me, who am I to ruin that for you?
That being said, the first act of Dragons in Autumn Twilight is...a lot. And when I say that, I also mean there is a lot to like as well as just...a lot.
The world of Krynn is DOPE AS HELL for starters. Like hot damn a world that the gods have actively forsaken and where divine magic has dwindled to the point of nonexistence? Excellent. 10/10 neat setup. Starting in medias res with a DND party that had actually broken up returning to compare notes? Wonderful. Love me a good cold open.
And then there's....everything else. Look, I know that Dragonlance paved the way for the fantasy novels of today so I'm not saying that it has no value to fantasy literature as a whole. But there is so much in this book that DID NOT AGE WELL since the 80s. Some of that adds to its charm (like literally everything that Raistlin says unironically) but some of it really casts a pall over the work (like Goldmoon, just...everything about Goldmoon).
Disclaimers aside, on to the review! I present my Extremely Loud Opinions about Act 1 of Dragons of Autumn Twilight! Spoilers Ahead!
Things I ADORE about Act 1
Like all great epic fantasy novels of the 80s, it starts with an exposition poem
There is an inn built into a living tree and that is neat!
Yaaaaasssss finally!!! A true shitty Gandalf knockoff!!! I am here for MEMES
I love the super old school art for each chapter heading
Naming someone Flint Fireforge is the equivalent of getting on a table and screaming "HEY DID YOU KNOW HE'S A DWARF???"
I find the disappearance of the Old Gods and Clerics a deeply compelling piece of lore and I want to know everything about it
So I can already tell Tasselhoff Burrfoot the rogue is going to annoy me eventually but his intro is FANTASTIC
Holy shit this party has ALL THE TROPES!!! A dwarf, a sticky fingered rogue, an angsty half elf, a himbo, and an edgelord all literally walk into a bar
Oh god, in Raistlin I see every chaotic neutral caster the RPG Horror Stories Reddit warned me about and I cannot stop laughing
Oooooooh the sole lady party member who refused to show up is Tanis the half elf's ex! JUICY
Goddammit they just gave me a barbarian princess and her hot bodyguard I AM TOO WEAK FOR THIS TROPE
This fucking Gandalf knockoff just orchestrated the single most chaotic quest reveal I have ever seen and I honestly have to applaud him for it
Eyyyy the barbarians join the party!!! Even though Goldmoon is definitely an accidental cleric and not a barbarian
I just realized a henchman has the last name of "Toede" and I'm dying
Goddammit Goldmoon and Riverwind are HECKIN CUTE
Oh shit looks like the BBEG ESCAPED A FUCKING SPACE PRISON
Tas is actually my favorite now because he's the only one who makes jokes and acts like a person
"Finally they stepped out on the road with as much fear as a troupe of unskilled actors facing a hostile audience." Is an incredible description and I'm going to steal it somehow
Riverwind has got THE SASS
Goldmoon you idiot
Holy shit dragonborn! Dragonborn cultist alert!
Tas just pulls a sword bigger than him out of a statue like it's nbd
It's so interesting to see a character in an over the top fantasy novel dealing with crippling depression and Sturm Brightblade is rapidly becoming my other favorite character. He seems to have more depth than all the other characters combined to the point where he almost feels out of place with all these cardboard cutouts. Give this man his own book pls
Thank you Raistlin for finally pointing out that it was the weird old Gandalf knockoff who got y'all into this mess
Aww Flint and Tanis actually have a really nice relationship. It's too bad they don't care about the rest of the party the same way
It's the dead warriors must perform a task they failed to find rest cliche and I love it
The centaurs all talk like over the top pirates and I dig it
There is a bad guy named "Verminaard" and I am scream laughing into my notebook
Love the old impersonating a deity trick, definitely one of my faves
Yaaasssss Lady Dragon Alert!!!
Dungeon crawl dungeon crawl dungeon crawl!!!
Raistlin straight up says "while you were studying the blade, I was learning something useful" what a tool
FANTASY ELEVATOR FIGHT
Please take Bupu as your new party member she just told ugly ass Raistlin he was pretty and actually knows what's going on in this damn dungeon
The Gully Dwarf king is call Highbulp Phudge and this is Dendybar levels of generic candybar naming right here
Okay the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth is atmospheric af
The first Gully Dwarf king discovered Xak Tsaroth by falling down a well during a bender and I am obsessed with this origin lore
Raistlin literally says "No one will ever understand me!" UNIRONICALLY like every shitty teen stereotype ever and it's incredible
Wow Raistlin actually acts like areal person with Bupu and his sending her off was incredibly sweet....why the fuck am I having an emotion about RAISTLIN???
Things I DETEST about Act 1
The cast. Starting with Tanis Halfelven. He seems to have two modes: being uselessly indecisive and mangst. That's it. He's the party leader and his indecisiveness could be very interesting. However, his party just....keeps following him? So I can't tell if he's actually supposed to be incompetent or a Gary Stu badass with a very confusing veneer of imperfection. Also he's very mean to half his party for no apparent reason but more on that later.
Goldmoon and Riverwind. I have to talk about them both because they exemplify two different and somewhat intertwined tropes that I utterly DESPISE. Riverwind is a quintessential Noble Savage straight out of Dances With Wolves right down to being the strong, silent type. Now, nothing is inherently wrong with being a strong silent type but EVERY MALE NATIVE AMERICAN CODED CHARACTER WAS THE STRONG SILENT TYPE IN THE 80S and boy howdy it has not aged well. Then there's Goldmoon. She's literally a Magical White Woman and it is gross. Her people are consistently described as being dark skinned and dark haired while she's over there being inexplicably blonde, pale, and also she's the first cleric her people have seen in a millennia. I know that I'm probably just reading too much into her being inexplicably white and also having magic BUT THOSE TWO THINGS TOO OFTEN COINCIDE AND I HATE IT. I wouldn't be putting up nearly as much of a stink if it was just her hair that's inexplicably blonde and she's still dark skinned BUT NO. SHE'S WHITE. SHE IS CONSTANTLY DESCRIBED AS BEING PALE AND BEAUTIFUL UNLIKE OTHER WOMEN IN HER NATION. YUCK YUCK GROSS
I want to talk about Caramon, Raistlin's himbo brother but the fact that I don't have anything to say about him is a problem in itself. The man has no personality aside from he loves his brother and food and that is very sad.
Oh joy, the first thing Tanis angsts about is how he's the product of a rape and it's an integral part of his identity....my favorite plot point.....
Man I like hobgoblins so much in modern DND that it's super unfortunate to see them as exclusively dumb toadies in the 80s
Oh dear it seems this party also suffers from Only One Girl syndrome. Heaven forbid a DND party has more than one woman in it at any given point
Raistlin stop being an angsty shit wizard and let your himbo twin love you
Did that shitty Gandalf knockoff just...compel Goldmoon to SING HER ENTIRE BACKSTORY TO A CROWDED TAVERN KNOWING BAD GUYS OUTSIDE ARE ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR HER??? WHAT THE FUCK SHITTY GANDALF KNOCKOFF??
I really do not understand how these people are friends? Like, all they do is bicker, think mean things about each other, and discuss how inevitable a betrayal from certain party members will be. Like, I know this book was based off an actual DND game so I have to ask, was it even fun to play? Did you guys enjoy talking about how badly you want to throw your friend's wizard character under the bus at multiple occasions? Maybe I'm just a pussy, but that doesn't sound very fun
"I wouldn't trust us." God Tanis is so ANGSTY
The Native American coding of the barbarians continues to be MEGA YIKES
So are the draconians slimy or scaly? You are giving me conflicting messages here
Oh god I can smell a Tanis love triangle on the winds and it smells like gym socks and regret
Everyone is constantly on the brink of PVP in this party and it is very uncomfortable to read
Raistlin gives me such character whiplash sometimes. One minute he's hilarious and the next I want to put a boot so far up his ass he tastes it
Caramon pls grow more of a personality than "food good" I'm begging you
"You will call me master!" Are you a cartoon villain by any chance, Raistlin?
Nooooo not the village!!! Poor Goldmoon and Riverwind :(
Blech! Getting doused by black dragon acid breath gets a 0/10 from Riverwind
I think the fact that Flint is only the SECOND most one note character I have ever encountered is depressing. The first is also in this book
No one makes any innuendos about the slimy pipe entrance 0/10 wasted opportunity
Don't you just love blanket characterizations for an entire subspecies of dwarves? Don't you just love it when the characterizations are all mean spirited and negative for no good reason?
All of the somatic components for Raistlin's spells are just the regular DND spells but SPELLED WRONG I CAN'T DECIDE IF THAT'S CLEVER OR IF I HATE IT
When did Goldmoon and Riverwind start fighting?? Stahp
There is a mage named Fistandantilus and no one is going to take the opportunity to make a joke about it 0/10
If you add Goldmoon and make this a Tanis love quadrangle I am going to barf
Well that was an anticlimactic dragon fight
Tanis barges into a temple to yell at the gods like every teenage atheist's wet dream
So, despite my criticism of several points in this book, I am still enjoying it. I am very interested in the upcoming war with the draconians and getting THE DEEP LORE about why the gods forsook Krynn. Also I am hoping and praying that the cast starts to grow on me. Overall, I'm giving Act 1 a 6/10. There were a lot of good bits that do help me overlook the slew of things that did not age well but it's no Icewind Dale Trilogy so far. The review for Act 2 should be coming along shortly!
I'm going through my whole movie collection in more or less alphabetical order. (More or less because some of the kids movies my daughter wants me to wait & watch with her and series will be watched chronologically.) Ima post a pic of my copy, where/why I got it, & a little review.
I just finished reading the book to my daughter so time to watch the movie...
I waited too long for this movie to be let down. I was a huge fan of the Dragonlance books since I was about 14 & talks of a movie adaptation were rumored since the 90s. In the early 2000s, an animated feature was confirmed & I frequented the website for updates, very optimistic after seeing initial designs & the voice cast. The movie was finally quietly released in 2008 & I only found out because we got a copy in stock at Toys R Us, which I bought immediately.
The animation is horrendous. The actual character designs are ok & follow descriptions in the book (and even pay homage to some chapter or cover illustrations) but the animation itself is choppy and poorly edited. They used CGI for the dragons & draconians that look like graphics from an early PS2 game & don't mesh well with the traditional animation. They cut and rush a lot to fit the whole novel into 90 minutes but that's to be expected. It could've been a lot worse. They get the important parts of the plot & most of the original dialogue. I miss the scene where Tas is in the big wicker dragon but at least they added this back-and- forth between Tasslehoff & Raistlin:
Tas: She cast that spell without saying those funny words. Why can't you do that, oh powerful mage?
Raist: she's channeling the power of a god, you dolt. I'm wresting arcane energies from the very fabric of the universe. It's completely different.
The voice acting ranges from meh to great. Keifer Sutherland almost saves the day as Raistlin. Allegedly Sutherland studied up on the character and put a lot of attention to detail in pronouncing the spells correctly. Other well-known names in the cast include Lucy Lawless, Michael Rosenbaum, Phil Lamarr, Jason Marsden, & Michelle Trachtenberg.
This would've been an ok adaptation if the animation were better. Not amazing but serviceable. But it's like despite the years in limbo they still rushed it at the last minute and slapped something together on a computer the night before it was due. If you're a Dragonlance fan it's worth seeing at least once out of morbid curiosity.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight - A review (that will mostly get me blocked by the fandom)
*stares into the distance* I am glad it exists.
How mean some people are with criticism, really.
I’ve been reading fantastic literature since I was a child, and for the record I started with The Lord of the Rings. That's why I have very little patience and empathy with those who throw garbage to the Dragonlance saga as something cheap and unworthy, comparing it to Tolkien's work. Well, I am a Tolkien fan as much as I am a Dragonlance fan. Whatever some may claim, they are not bad books. It's not a bad saga at all, even if it came out of a Dungeons & Dragons game. The world is well built, the characters are diverse and well defined, the story is entertaining and easy to follow, and if you stay loyal for at least 6 books - the main core, which is the Chronicles and Legends - you get to have a lot, much love for this story.
And now we are going into this adaptation to animation cinema. I saw it yesterday in fear and terror due to the bad reviews I had read. Truth is, it hasn’t been as bad as I expected.
Yes, compressing Dragons of Autumn Twilight - the first book of the Chronicles - in an hour and a half film is risky and the result is that the pace is overwhelming and many events and details have been removed, does this surprise anyone?
Yes, combining 2D and 3D animation is a terrible idea, it looks awful.
Yes, the animation of the characters - not the design itself - is quite awkward and limited.
Well, maybe Goldmoon shouldn’t look THAT white, after all. She’s canonically a WOC, even if her hair is golden and silver. She should look like Riverwind, at least for the skin tone.
BUT - the soundtrack is beautiful and enough immersive, the voice acting is more than correct - I actually enjoyed Kiefer Sutherland as Raistlin -; the characters are well defined; the movie is fast-paced and entertaining, even too brief. In fact, I kinda regret that at least the second and third parts of the trilogy were never adapted, because we were left in a cliffhanger at the end. Unfortunately, with the reception it had, it was expected they tried no more.
The main problem has been a lack of budget. This story needs a serious and deep investment; I would say a generous series in the style of Game of Thrones on HBO or The Witcher on Netflix ... because one film, or several, are not enough to adapt well the complexity of the world of Krynn and this story.
As long as this doesn’t happen, I am glad that this film exists. I would take it as a modest work of animation for fans and to introduce children to the world of Dragonlance. Why not? I wish these beloved books were better known and loved, because they are totally worth it. Meanwhile, this movie would serve as an introduction. Of course, everyone must read the books.
In short, I give it a 6 out of 10. It’s decent enough, it’s entertaining, it shows some care. And in the name of Raistlin, my favorite character, who’s mostly well portrayed - when I was expecting a catastrophe - I absolve this cringy little treasure of all its sins.
Did I say you should read the books? You cannot imagine how far they will take you.
Average reaction of the fandom to this movie.
Moments that make it worthwhile:
- Raistlin. His voice, his crooked smile, that horrible cough - I spit my coffee the first time I heard it I swear to God - and it’s hilarious he doesn't bother to cover his mouth.
- A goblin spits out a very thick... spittle... on Tanis' forehead.
- Caramon staring at Tika's breasts and butt, swaying them around the inn.
- Flint, sounding suspiciously like Gimli from The Lord of the Rings, dressed as a woman, with huge fake boobs, saying, "I want to make one thing clear. This never happened."
- Tasslehoff yelling: "Where are the gods when we need them!" and Fizban replying, "Here, let me." Only fans will understand why this is so funny.
- Caramon lifting Tasslehoff up to his face level. I didn't know I needed this.
- Raistlin and Sturm being mean to each other. This cannot be more canon.
- Laurana kissing Elistan on the mouth and dancing with him. WTF?! ??!?!
- Raistlin casts a friendship spell on Bupu. Bupu hugs his waist. Caramon comments, "It looks like you overdid a little."
- Tanis sighing: "I wish Kitiara has survived all of this, wherever she is". Change to the scene with Kitiara turned into a dragon highlord, completely invested in the Evil’s plan and smirking wickedly.
- A draconian licks longly and slowly Laurana's face.
- Raistlin throwing hints about the promiscuity of his stepsister and about Laurana flirting with Elistan for the sole purpose of tormenting Tanis.
- Did I already say that Raistlin is great?
- The human form Khisanth chooses to speak to Lord Verminaard is that of a practically naked succubus.
- Also, although this is what Dragonlance fans are used to, the same happens to Takhisis.
- AND Raistlin.