Title: The War of Souls Trilogy
My rating: 3 out of 5
The people of Krynn have known war in past ages. Some are still alive who remember the triumph of good at the conclusion of the War of the Lance. Still more remember the devastation of the Chaos War, which ended the Fourth Age of the world.
But now a new war is about to begin, more terrible than any have known. This war is one for the very heart and soul of the world itself.
The War of Souls.
Wow. I had to take a moment and a deep breath after this one. This trilogy took me (I’m a little embarrassed to admit) several months to finish. Each volume is so big it could break a foot if you dropped it. This is a very intricate story with many threads woven to make a fine mesh tapestry.
I have been interested in the universe of DragonLance for a long time, and my very first venture into the world of Krynn was the Suncatcher Trilogy by Jeff Sampson (which I’m thinking of reading again, because Sindri). I fell in love with the race of kender, which are kind of like hobbits, but not really.
Then I brought this War of Souls Trilogy into my collection and decided to give it a whirl. My first impression after diving into the first volume was that I would have benefitted exponentially from reading its predecessor series first, as there are many people, places, and events mentioned and alluded to that bear some significance. Albeit the authors did a fair job adding enough detail to give a novice (such as I am) some understanding to keep me from being totally lost, but in the future I would advise starting at the very beginning, because that’s a very good place to start. I jumped into an ocean with this DragonLance stuff, because while there are numerous (and I mean numerous) series and trilogies encompassing individual stories, they’re all strung up along the timeline of this world of Krynn, which opens with Dragons of Autumn Twilight, first in the Chronicles Trilogy by Weis and Hickman.
So, before you dive into the War of Souls, be smarter than yours truly and start in the beginning instead of somewhere in the middle.
Now, that said, I have to admit I have some mixed feelings about this story. Overall in the grand scheme of things I enjoyed it, but it was the ending that sold it to me. I love me a good ending (I’m not saying anything more about that, because a spoiled ending is the worst). I had some trouble getting there, though, because it took so very long. We follow a bucket load of people scattered across the continent dealing with the myriad of happenings, and to be honest, I really only cared about Tasselhoff’s happenings (poor, poor, loveable Tas. I’d read Dragons of Autumn Twilight just for him). I favored Gerard’s bits, too, but those two were my only real favorites.
The overarching theme of this One God seriously creeped me out in the beginning, when I couldn’t decide if it was a good or bad thing. The details were so conflicting (which is good storytelling, leaving the reader in the same shoes as the characters as they try to figure out what to think of it). I’m going to spoil that for you and say that it is most certainly a bad thing. There wouldn’t be much of a story if it had turned out to be a good one.
Such is life.
Anywho, the diversity of the characters and their varying personalities gives a wide perspective of what’s going on, what it means to the world as a whole, and how it affects/will affect the individuals in it. One thing is for certain, not a single person will be the same. Trials can stretch and grow or shatter and destroy. Tas learned about fear and true bravery, Odila found her way through the mire of a troubled heart, Gilthas fought through the pain and responsibility of kingship to lead an exiled people. Mina succumbed to darkness.
Mina is a curiosity for me. Duly mysterious in the beginning, we learned very little about her throughout the story. Outside of her unswerving faith in her One God, she has almost no personality. Her initial impression is one of a capable leader and miracle worker filled with kindness and compassion for everyone, including her enemies, so long as they recognize the One God whom she serves. Then come to find out towards the end that this ‘innocent’ youth isn’t as kindhearted as we’ve been led to believe. I know that stress and pain can alter a person, but I would think that such a compassionate person would hesitate a little more before doing what she did, might waver a little in the face of the dark truth. But maybe it was all a farce to begin with. An act. Devotion to her god turned this inquisitive girl into a devout pawn and then a bitter and vengeful creature. It would be interesting to see what happens with this new bane in the followup series, The Dark Disciple.
Story aside, I thought the narrative had good points and not so good points. It was wonderfully descriptive, painting vivid pictures, but there were times when I thought this exposition or that one wasn’t entirely necessary for the development of the plot. I also found a boatload of typos, but it’s not like that ruined the experience for me. The pace was moderate for the most part, kind of slow at times (which is one of the reasons it took me so long to finish, I rarely felt the insufferable need to read more at the soonest opportunity). But it got better in the last three or four hundred pages, keeping me up too late.
All in all I’d say it was a good addition to the DragonLance world, certainly enough to convince me to go back and read from the first.