[ Books ] War of the Twins (Dragonlance: Legends, Vol. 2)

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Artwork by Larry Elmore

So here we are, back again, as I finish up with War of the Twins!  The Army of Fistandantilus has reached the mountain fastness of the dwarven home of Thorbardin, but it’s no easy battle for either side as intrigue and betrayal runs amok!

As always with these discussions on books, if you’d rather read it for yourself first and avoid any potential spoilers, please turn back now!

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“Home isn’t supposed to change. It just stays there, waiting for you to come back. Home is someplace you say ‘My, this looks just like it did when I left!’ not ‘My, this looks like six million dragons flew in and wrecked the joint!’ Home is not a place for adventures, Caramon!”
– “Test of the Twins: Legends, Volume Three (Dragonlance Legends Book 3)” by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/23GGTHw

[ TV Show ] Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

tv-drquinnI just finished binge-watching this show over the past few weeks.  Yes, yes, I realize that it’s from the 90’s and I could be watching and talking about something current — and I will, at some point, I’m watching a few current shows that are worth talking about.  However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some old shows worth talking about, too!

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman has always stood out to me among TV shows primarily because of my love of character development.  (You guys haven’t heard me mention that before, have you?)  While there’s a lot about the show that’s predictable, trope-ridden, and saccharine it doesn’t lessen the fact that you get to watch several characters grow, change, and progress over the show’s seven-season run.  (Not including the two movies that came after…)  It isn’t just Michaela’s story that unfolds, but the stories of several other characters in burgeoning Colorado Springs.  And that is something I love about it.  The characters seem more real because their attitudes and opinions change over time.  You get a front row seat as they develop new ways of thinking and provoke new relationships.

Love is handled in better ways than I’ve seen in most shows, where characters meet and fall for each other in the span of one or two episodes.  Love stories here take place over entire seasons that grow and progress over time.  That isn’t to say that you can’t still predict who’s going to end up with who; they make characters interests in each other pretty clear from the onset, but at least it doesn’t actually happen overnight.

When it comes to choosing a favorite character, though, I have to say that I probably tend to favor the mercantile shopkeeper, Loren Bray.  Out of all the characters in the Dr. Quinn universe, he makes the most progress with his hide-bound attitudes and prejudices.  He is, by no means, perfect by the show’s end but he’s made considerable progress.  I’m a bit saddened, though, that he and Dorothy Jennings never end up together.  It’s pretty clear that she’s always been his one, true love.  But her feelings were never the same.

Something that surprised me about this show (because I’d apparently forgotten…) was the sheer number of social issues they ambitiously try to address during the course of the show; everything from feminism, racism and, classism,  a little bit of LGBTQ, even saving/preserving the environment.  All of it was handled fairly well and in a positive light, I think, trying to teach a lot of valuable moral and ethical lessons.

It’s certainly a TV show I enjoy and would happily recommend to others, especially if you want a show that’s relatively up-beat in spite of some of its more serious undertones on issues.  Just make sure you have some time to invest in it, because it’s a pretty long journey!

 

[ Books ] War of the Twins (Dragonlance, Legends Vol. 2)

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Cover Art by Larry Elmore

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!

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[ Books ] Time of the Twins (Dragonlance, Legends Vol. 1)

 

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Cover Art by Larry Elmore

So, I finished reading Time of the Twins a while back!  I just haven’t gotten around to posting my thoughts on it.  Out of the three, I think that Time is the weakest of the three books.  Everything happens in such a crunch (Cataclysms are comin’, man!) that you don’t really get to experience much in the way of growth among the characters.  It’s all just hastily crammed together and the reader is just left wondering about character motives and consistency.

 

Don’t click to read more if you aren’t prepared for spoilers, though!

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In Memoriam: My Dazzling Kaya

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How do you even begin to say goodbye to someone who has been such an integral part of your life?  For the past fifteen years, Kaya Christensen has been such a person.  I have more fond memories of her than I do a number of people in my life — and most of those years we’ve spent apart.  She lives in Utah, I live in Texas.  Always has our relationship been a reminder that real love and genuine friendship know no boundaries, no distance.

We met through the online MMORPG World of Warcraft way back in 2002, shortly after I started playing the game.  Almost instantly, we became fast friends and talked about Life, the Universe, and Everything on a near-daily basis.  It could be innocuous, geeky stuff from our many fandoms or it was sometimes super-serious stuff from our daily lives.  It never really mattered, we just talked.

I’m sure there are those that scoff there’s no way to forge a meaningful friendship over the internet, but they’d be wrong.  For me, and likely for many others, Kaya was a warm light of hope and encouragement.  She never failed to believe in my writing or my art, even when I failed time and again to finish anything, she never wavered.  She firmly believed that my happiness and my heart lay in my writing.  There will always be a part of me that loves to write, even if I can’t do it as much or as well as I used to, and there is a bit of Kaya that will always be part of that.

In 2009, when I struggled to finish my novel for National Novel Writing Month, I was down to my last 10,000 words and maybe an hour and a half left to the deadline.  Kaya caught me on messenger and said, “Okay, time to put things in overdrive.  For every 1,000 words you finish writing, we both take a shot.”  Yes, alcohol and writing, best combination, right?  We did just that.

In retrospect, that was probably some of the most hilarious and not-my-comfort-zone writing I’ve ever done, since I don’t really have a comedic bone in my body, but it was a hilariously fun time and I finished my novel for that year.  It has been, to-date, the only year I have ever finished Nano.  Something I also owe to Kaya.

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, it was easily the most difficult time of my life.  I was angry, I was frustrated, I took it out on those closest to me even though I didn’t really want to.  I lost many of my friends during that time and there are still more with whom I do not have the same relationship I once did.  Kaya, though, never faltered.

No matter what time of night it was, how “inconvenient” I may have thought myself, Kaya always welcomed me with open arms and a sympathetic ear.  There was at least one moment in those conversations that Kaya may very well have been the lifeline that saved my life.  My disease, my pain, my frustration, my isolation — all culminated to thoughts of suicide, I’m not afraid to admit that.  It was Kaya who talked me back from the precipice and it was Kaya who gave me the courage to push forward without the endless guilt-tripping diatribes and empty platitudes best left to motivational posters.

“My life wouldn’t be the same without you,” she said to me then.  My heart echoes that sentiment now, because my life won’t ever be the same without her.  I find myself wishing that I’d talked with her more, visited her more, done more to show her just what a beloved and valued friend she was to me.  I know, though, that she would never lay one scrap of blame at my feet, she’d simply say we both did the best we could and that was enough.

There will always be a void in my heart that can never be filled, a part of me that will always be held in reserve for Kaya.  While talking about her may not alleviate my grief, I’ll do my best to remember her with joy and not sorrow.  I think she’d want it that way.

[ Books ] Time of the Twins

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“Throne of Istar” by Jeff Easley

As I continue my journey with Caramon, Crysania, and Tasslehoff we move backward in time to just prior to the Cataclysm that changed the face of Krynn as we know it.  I’ve come to the jeweled city of Istar when the power of the Last Kingpriest of Istar is at its height.  Yet, early on you can see that there are cracks in the pristine facade that the Kingpriest puts on, as seen through the eyes of Denubis one of the Temple’s many disciples.

Denubis humanizes the Kingpriest in such a way that he feels guilty about it, because a man so holy should not seem so… normal.    Through this view, we see the inherent flaws in the Temple and the cracks in the Kingpriest’s faith that ultimately leads to the downfall of the world. Also through Denubis’ point of view, we get our first glimpses of Fistandantilus, the powerful (and inherently evil) archmage.  Up until now (if you’ve only read Chronicles up to this point), Fistandantilus has only been spoken of briefly, but even those brief bits are enough to make you wary.  Yet, again, Denubis humanizes this iconically evil character, making him seem almost misunderstood.  As a character, Denubis might not seem like much at this point, but he’s powerful in his own right because he challenges all the perceptions about Good and Evil, Right and Wrong in Istar as we’ve seen it so far.

“Who among us is truly innocent” is a phrase that gets repeated early on, which ties all the characters together with a neat little bow.  The truth is, no one in the story is innocent, all of them tie into what’s happening with varied levels of guilt.  It’s certainly enough to make you wonder, like Denubis, who is truly in the right and who is truly in the wrong.

I think that’s why I enjoy the Legends trilogy, in particular, when it comes to the Dragonlance Saga.  It takes all the preconceived notions of Good and Evil in fantasy and turns them upside down, so that you find yourself actually rooting for the “bad guy” and thinking the “good guys” are stuck up zealots that need to be taken down a peg or two.

I’ve got more to read, though, so I’ll post again soon!