Pros: great atmosphere and characters. explains what Raistlin did to end the War of the Lance.
Cons: Raistlin is a little too nice perhaps
Long before the events that lead to the War of the Lance, a young mage, Raistlin, is tested in the dread test at the Tower of High Sorcery. He finds out who he is – an unpleasant revelation that will lead him to attempt to murder his innocent and beleaguered brother twice. He also becomes thrall of Fistandantilus, an undead and relentlessly evil wizard with an agenda. Now that the War of the Lance is raging and Raistlin has abandoned his friends, using the power of the dragon orb to transport him away from their watery deaths, he is searching Neraka for power. Under the guise of prostrating himself to Queen Takhisis, goddess of evil and would-be destroyer of Krynn, he searches to gain power and rid himself of Fistandantilus.
As the War of the Lance spirals toward a conclusion, the companions plot a desperate scheme to rescue Laurana from Queen Takhisis and her army of draconians. Meanwhile, Raistlin ponders his choices, deciding whom he should betray; he must stab someone in the back to take their place and claim his power. He also must find a way to rid himself of Fistandantilus who is growing stronger and angrier. Fistandantilus will murder him and fully possess his body as he has done to so many others before if Raistlin does not act quickly.
As the situation worsens and the story hurtles toward the denouement readers remember from the Chronicles, Raistlin delivers the story of his rise to power and, surprisingly, conscientiousness. For the first time in a long time, it seems that maybe our beloved sly mage, Master of Past and Present, and power hungry betrayer just might have a heart. His guilt combines nicely with all the aspects of grand narrative and fleshes out the missing pieces of a story readers have followed for over 25 years.
Readers of the Dragonlance series will recall the first three books that started it all, the beloved Chronicles which detailed the rise and fall of Takhisis and the band of lovable characters who rescued Krynn from evil. Of course, many events transpired in the original tales and after the party separated readers are left curious by the details of what elapses in the time that they disappeared from the main narrative. One of the most inexplicable events that transpired between the pages is Raistlin’s rise to power. He disappears from the narrative as the companions are thrown into a maelstrom in the Blood Sea and reappears later mysteriously powerful and able to defeat the Dark Goddess. How does this happen? As a part of the Lost Chronicles series, Dragons of the Hourglass Mage finally reveals the entire backstory. This novel explains the events that transpire between books, finishing the dramatic quest begun by Tanis Half-Elven and the Heroes of the Lance at the beginning of the war for Krynn.
Dragons of the Hourglass Mage is actually the last book in the three part Lost Chronicles series, but it is the first book in the series that I have read. Raistlin was always my favourite character so naturally I had to read this particular installment first. Raistlin’s ambition, his secretive nature, and his power over the elusive dragon orb that destroyed King Lorac and turned Silvanesti into a nightmare land was the stuff of good story weaving, and I was delighted to see that Raistlin has returned just as dangerous and conniving as before. Of course, before readers jump into this novel they need to read the original Chronicles series. It also wouldn’t hurt to read Soulforge and Brothers in Arms (both books of the Raistlin Chronicles).
Weis and Hickman, the original authors, recapture the essence of Raistlin, presenting his all-consuming ambition and desire to rise to power regardless of the cost. This leads him into a web of deceit as he attempts to serve the Dark Queen while spying for Hidden Light – an organization of revolutionaries that fear the Dark Queen will destroy Krynn. Raistlin himself is not interested in good or evil, merely in finding the way that leads to the most power for himself. The journey to discover what route this will lead him down consumes the novel as Raistlin plots and devises.
Meanwhile, we see a kinder, gentler side to “the Sly One” that, although so satisfying to the Raistlin lovers among us, doesn’t entirely capture the early feeling of treachery and ambition that burns through Raistlin’s veins. Let me be blunter: Raistlin feels guilt and compassion – two emotions that don’t entirely fit with his prior characterization. Nevertheless, this more rounded presentation of Raistlin is very effective and well evoked. I’m still not entirely sure that I prefer it to the prior characterization. Despite Raistlin being my favourite character, I think that he needs to remain consistently evil or at least self-absorbed.
As Raistlin wonders about her Dark Majesty’s kingdom of Neraka, we reunite with some old characters: Kitiara and Lord Soth. There is even a sojourn to Dargaard keep. Kitiara’s interactions with Raistlin are well drawn and tense, showing even more dimension in both characters outlooks on life and the War of the Lance.
Raistlin also runs into a new character that is quite well portrayed and enjoyable, Lord Ariakas’ witch, Iolanthe. Iolanthe is an interesting companion for Raistlin and her flirtatious demeanor and ability to see the truth for the lies and speak bluntly makes her a fascinating addition to the tale and a unique foil for our favourite mage. Their mental sparring with one another builds the sense of both characters and allows for Raistlin’s usual sardonic and secretive demeanor. The dialogue between these two keeps the narrative riveting and oddly realistic as usual. Weis and Hickman still know how to create intriguing new characters and keep old favourites vibrant and true-to-life.
The other Heroes of the Lance, however, rarely appear in this narrative. Only Flint actually interacts with Raistlin. Tanis and Laurana appear in the last few pages as Raistlin enacts his scheme against Takhisis that readers are already familiar with from the Chronicles. However, neither Tanis nor Laurana actually get any proper page space. Dragons of the Hourglass Mage is solely interested in relating Raistlin’s rise to power, defeat of Takhisis, and conquering of Fistandantilus all of which it does to superb effect.
The conclusion sequence so well presented in Dragons of Spring Dawning is re-enacted in this narrative this time from Raistlin’s prospective. His plot and the progression of the scheme are well depicted and tense with danger and the constant risk of discovery. The outcome of his bizarre entanglement with Fistandantilus and his rise to the power showcases later in the Legends series is finally uncovered in its full glory and fans of the series will finish Dragons of the Hourglass Mage satisfied and in love with the world of Krynn once more. Highly recommended.
The Dragonlance Series:
Dragonlance: The Movie
The Raistlin Chronicles:
(2.) Brothers in Arms
The Chronicles Series:
(1.) Dragons of Autumn Twilight
(2.) Dragons of Winter Night
(3.) Dragons of Spring Dawning
(4.) Dragons of Summer Flame
The Twins Series:
(1.) Time of the Twins
(2.) War of the Twins
(3.) Test of the Twins
The Lost Chronicles:
(1.) Dragons of Dwarven Depths
(2.) Dragons of a Highlord Sky
(3.) Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (you are here)
(1.) Darkness and Light
(3.) Brothers Majere
(4.) Riverwind the Plainsman
(5.) Flint the King
(6.) Tanis the Shadow Years