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Thursday, January 22, 2009

“Bones of the Dragon” by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Official Margaret Weis Website
Official Tracy Hickman Website
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Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have long been a dynamic duo in the world of fantasy literature. Almost 25 years after their first Dragonlance book was published, the two have started a new fantasy series. “Bones of the Dragon”, the first of six volumes in the Dragonships of Vindras saga, introduces readers not only to a whole new creative world, but a story sprinkled with adventure, romance and clashes between humans and such creatures as dragons and ogres...

A battle has erupted between the Vindras gods and a group of unknown gods that wish to take over all that the Vindras look over and protect. As a result of this battle, the gods of the Vindras have scattered and gone into hiding leaving the clans of Vindras to fend for themselves against such hardships as famine and attacks from outside groups.

The only way the people of Vindras can live on their own and protect themselves is to find the five bones of the Vektia Dragon. Unfortunately, due to the extreme power these five bones hold when combined together, the bones have been scattered throughout the land and their location unknown.

Skylan Ivorson, son to the Torgun chief—a small clan of the Vindras—is a brash young man. He believes that he has been touched by the god of war since his birth and is called to do many great things. One of those great things is to become the Chief of Chiefs, ruling over all the Vindras clans, something he believes he is ready to undertake despite his young age and lack of experience. What Skylan does not understand is that being the Chief of Chiefs comes with many responsibilities including the assumed quest to find all five of the sacred bones so that the Vindras and their gods do not become non-existent...

As with a lot of first books in a series, be it a trilogy or longer, the majority of the novel is spent on developing the world that the series takes place in. “Bones of the Dragon” is no exception with most of the first half of the book centered around describing the world of the Vindras, from the clans that have formed, to the cultural elements of the people, and land structures. As usual, Weis and Hickman do a wonderful job of painting a picture for the readers to understand this new world. However, since so much time is spent on world-building, it takes a while for the book to build up to the adventures and developing an understanding for the story and what the series is about.

One facet of the world-building that really stood out was religion and the gods that the Vindras follow. Again, Weis and Hickman do a wonderful job of imagining such a religion and establishing the customs of the clans. In particular, readers are treated to various battle and love stories of the gods that are commonly told among the Vindras clans. While this is very essential to the plot, sometimes it does feel as though other aspects of the storyline were overlooked or lacking because there was so much time spent on religion and the gods.

While readers may enjoy the world-building, a major weakness of “Bones of the Dragon” were the characters and being unable to develop any real relationship with them. Basically, the characters that we are all introduced to are very one-dimensional, with only one side of them being shown like the stubborn warrior, the drunken leader, or the loyal friend who is afraid to speak up and say what he feels. This shallow portrayal of the characters becomes frustrating after a while, especially since we’ve seen these kinds of stereotypes before in the world of fantasy. For example, Skylan was overly confident and by the middle of the book you could basically predict every move that he was going to make. I was hoping that by the end of the novel one character would jump out at me, but unfortunately that didn't happen.

Overall, “Bones of the Dragon” was a middle-of-the-road book and didn't wow me like I was hoping, but it wasn't a complete let down because there were parts that I really enjoyed. The world-building in particular was wonderful and the descriptions really added a special dimension to the book. Also, the plot did pick up at the end. However, there were also a lot of drawbacks that made the book hard to get through like the flat characters and the large amount of time it took for the plot to get going. And some of my disappointment stemmed from how much I loved the Dragonlance novels, which made me really anticipate the new series. Of course, it’s too early to judge the Dragonships of Vindras and I’m hopeful that the series picks up in the future, although it could go either way. Still, it’s a series to definitely keep an eye on...


Zahir75 said...

I enjoyed "Bones of the Dragon" thoroughly - Weis & Hickman have been my favorite duo since Dragonlance series (which I read when I was 12 years old). Again, this first novel of the Dragonship series does not disappoint.

But I kinda dislike Skylan... Garn is much more preferable.

And Wulfe. I like him.

Didnt know that there will be 6 books in the series - Death's Gate has 7 - but I'm sure I'm gonna enjoy them all.

Cindy said...

The second one (Which I should be reviewing on FBC) is a LOT better then the first one. I read at least 80 pages in a little under 2 hours I was that into the second book.

Nathan said...

I love all of Weis and Hickman's work. The Dragonlance series was awesome and so was the Twins series. I just finished reading bones of the dragon and I thought that that was it (I really hoped it wasn't). I had not expected this to be the beginning of great things to come. What I want to know if anyone knows when the second book is being released?


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