We return to the world of Krynn, but are now in a different time than we left our heroes in Time of the Twins. They’ve moved ahead some one-hundred years after the Cataclysm and stand on the precipice of the Dwarfgate Wars.
At this point in time, if you’ve only read Chronicles and this far in Legends, the Dwarfgate Wars likely don’t mean anything to you. There’s a fair bit of lore-dropping in Dragonlance that later gets back-filled by other books in the franchise. Suffice to say, you’re supposed to feel that the Dwarfgate Wars are a Pretty Important Event when it comes to the timeline.
As always, here is my convenient spoiler warning — don’t read past this point if you’re still enjoying the series on your own!
War feels like a much more solid book, compared to its predecessor, since it does a fairly good job of explaining its own mythos and why the Dwarfgate Wars are such an important part of the world timeline. We still don’t see a whole lot in the way of character development, which, I think, is an overall problem in these early Dragonlance books. Something they remedy over time with other books in the series, but for now, if it’s your first read-through, you just have to limp along with what’s here.
I think Caramon is a bit more present in the narrative in this book than Time, but he’s still sort of relegated to these heroic montages that cram his story into easily-dismissed passages. Yay, he’s General Caramon now! Military life is his thing…! Solamnics love him! I would have enjoyed watching Caramon build his rapport over time or watching him convince people to join the cause. I suppose that kind of thing would have bogged down the main plot of the story, though, so I might be in the minority in that.
Crysania continues forward with her blind love for Raistlin. Given my general dislike of “love at first sight” stories — to say nothing of stories that romanticize abusive relationships — I think Crysania’s journey as a character is weakest in War because of the whole romance angle. Remember what I said in Time about her love having no real basis? Well, that continues in War. Despite Raistlin mistreating and verbally abusing her whenever he gets the chance, she refuses to see that she’s being used — or she does, and she doesn’t really care because she’s supposedly using him to further her own ambitions.
What exactly is Crysania’s ambition? Mostly it’s revolved around glorifying the church in her own time, but how is that really served here? I suppose an inherently Good cleric would want to destroy the Queen of Darkness as the epitome of all things Evil — but that kind of loops back to the same kind of hubris that the Kingpriest had. She believes herself so powerful, so steeped in her Goodness that it is both her right and her duty to destroy this evil with Paladine’s help. Isn’t that exactly why they threw a fiery mountain down on the Kingpriest’s head? What differentiates the two?