I re-read this while I was in Taiwan, for the first time since high school. It held up better than I’d expected.

Written by the duo responsible for the Dragonlance books and other popular but not critically respected works of fantasy, this trilogy is surprisingly enjoyable. The prose is lousy and overheated, but the worldbuilding is very logical within its own wacky parameters, the characters are fun, the story is consistently entertaining, and the ending is genuinely startling. I’m not saying this is a work of genius or anything, but for old-school big fat fantasy, you could do a lot worse.

In this world, absolutely everything is done by magic, and technology is forbidden. Yeah, yeah, I know, big cliché. But what Weis and Hickman do that’s cool is take that cliché to its logical extreme. Rich people float above the air to display their wealth of magical strength, poor people and political exiles are stuck with limited access to magic and live wretched hardscrabble lives, and the occasional person born with no inherent magic at all is proclaimed Dead (more on that later.) When the color of clothing can be magically altered in an instant, of course the exact shade of one’s robes and its appropriateness to the moment at hand are a matter of great importance in court.

Machines are banned, even simple ones like waterwheels. Levers are banned – when a character spontaneously uses a branch rather than telekinesis to move a rock, everyone reacts with shock and horror. Furniture is magically shaped, so when another character sees a chair that’s been constructed out of mutilated, sawn, and joined-together bits of trees, he reacts with more shock and horror. Oh, and sex? Also banned. Sperm is magically transported from husband to wife.

Needless to say, not everyone abides by these rules. But there are mage enforcers to punish those who don’t, sometimes by turning them into giant statues who stay conscious in a kind of living death or by sending them across a magical barrier to who knows where (more on that later, too.) And Dead babies are put to death. Little d death.

When the emperor’s baby is born Dead, his mother’s totally literal crystal tears shatter against and cut his chest, giving him scars that will later reveal his identity. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Years later, a boy named Joram manages to hide his Dead state by learning sleight of hand to fake having real magic. This plus his upbringing by an insane mother gives him plenty of angst – and the book has only just started.

The story follows Joram (who is the subject of a prophecy that he will destroy the world), a mathematician and mage named Saryon who is tormented by his evil desires for engineering and sex, a pretty aristocratic blonde girl Joram falls for, a comic relief fop named Simkin, and a brave artistocrat allied with the renegade technologists. They mostly seem like a fairly standard bunch. Except that…

Fun with genre tropes! )

Forging the Darksword: The Darksword Trilogy, Volume 1
I re-read this while I was in Taiwan, for the first time since high school. It held up better than I’d expected.

Written by the duo responsible for the Dragonlance books and other popular but not critically respected works of fantasy, this trilogy is surprisingly enjoyable. The prose is lousy and overheated, but the worldbuilding is very logical within its own wacky parameters, the characters are fun, the story is consistently entertaining, and the ending is genuinely startling. I’m not saying this is a work of genius or anything, but for old-school big fat fantasy, you could do a lot worse.

In this world, absolutely everything is done by magic, and technology is forbidden. Yeah, yeah, I know, big cliché. But what Weis and Hickman do that’s cool is take that cliché to its logical extreme. Rich people float above the air to display their wealth of magical strength, poor people and political exiles are stuck with limited access to magic and live wretched hardscrabble lives, and the occasional person born with no inherent magic at all is proclaimed Dead (more on that later.) When the color of clothing can be magically altered in an instant, of course the exact shade of one’s robes and its appropriateness to the moment at hand are a matter of great importance in court.

Machines are banned, even simple ones like waterwheels. Levers are banned – when a character spontaneously uses a branch rather than telekinesis to move a rock, everyone reacts with shock and horror. Furniture is magically shaped, so when another character sees a chair that’s been constructed out of mutilated, sawn, and joined-together bits of trees, he reacts with more shock and horror. Oh, and sex? Also banned. Sperm is magically transported from husband to wife.

Needless to say, not everyone abides by these rules. But there are mage enforcers to punish those who don’t, sometimes by turning them into giant statues who stay conscious in a kind of living death or by sending them across a magical barrier to who knows where (more on that later, too.) And Dead babies are put to death. Little d death.

When the emperor’s baby is born Dead, his mother’s totally literal crystal tears shatter against and cut his chest, giving him scars that will later reveal his identity. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Years later, a boy named Joram manages to hide his Dead state by learning sleight of hand to fake having real magic. This plus his upbringing by an insane mother gives him plenty of angst – and the book has only just started.

The story follows Joram (who is the subject of a prophecy that he will destroy the world), a mathematician and mage named Saryon who is tormented by his evil desires for engineering and sex, a pretty aristocratic blonde girl Joram falls for, a comic relief fop named Simkin, and a brave artistocrat allied with the renegade technologists. They mostly seem like a fairly standard bunch. Except that…

Fun with genre tropes! )

Forging the Darksword: The Darksword Trilogy, Volume 1
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Jan. 1st, 2008 12:02 pm)
My second treat was Lucky, for the "Dragonlance" books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Those were favorites of mine as a teenager; they’re based on Dungeons and Dragons and do not possess great literary depth, but are really fun if you’re in the mood. I saw this come up and leapt at the chance to write in that world, of which I have such fond, albeit somewhat ironic, memories. Unfortunately, I had only two hours to write and the story really needed more polishing; please excuse the lack of proofreading, let alone rewriting.

The prompt was interaction between Tanis and Raistlin, slash great but not required. Tanis is the angsty half-elven group leader. Raistlin is… well, one of my favorite quotes on the whole series was when it was discussed on rec.arts.sf.written. Someone called the characters one-dimensional. Someone else, probably Steve Parker but possibly myself, replied that Raistlin was at least two-and-a-half dimensional.

Raistlin is a sarcastic and possibly evil mage who is cursed with golden skin, magic tuberculosis, and hourglass-shaped pupils that make him see everything dying. He has a co-dependent relationship with his strong but dumb twin brother, quite accurately thinks he’s much smarter than anyone else in the party and says so at the least provocation, and is nasty to everyone but Tanis, whose IQ is at least over room temperature, and unloved outcasts, whom he identifies with. For obvious reasons, Raistlin is the definition of “scene stealer.”

The other things you should know before reading this story are that one of the companions, Goldmoon, has a magic healing staff that won’t help Raistlin because his health problems are the result of a curse rather than injury or naturally occurring illness; and that Tas is not an idiot despite appearances, but a kender (not “kinder,” sorry about the typo): like a hobbit, but genetically unable to experience fear.

I like this story more than it probably deserves. I couldn’t manage slash in the time I had, but did try to write it so that one could read it as slashy hurt/comfort if one is so inclined, though I was more interested in the role reversal. Plus, I got to refer to gelatinous cubes and twisty tunnels all alike. It’s probably just as well I had to upload in a hurry, or I might have had someone get eaten by a grue.
rachelmanija: (Autumn: small leaves)
( Jan. 1st, 2008 12:02 pm)
My second treat was Lucky, for the "Dragonlance" books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Those were favorites of mine as a teenager; they’re based on Dungeons and Dragons and do not possess great literary depth, but are really fun if you’re in the mood. I saw this come up and leapt at the chance to write in that world, of which I have such fond, albeit somewhat ironic, memories. Unfortunately, I had only two hours to write and the story really needed more polishing; please excuse the lack of proofreading, let alone rewriting.

The prompt was interaction between Tanis and Raistlin, slash great but not required. Tanis is the angsty half-elven group leader. Raistlin is… well, one of my favorite quotes on the whole series was when it was discussed on rec.arts.sf.written. Someone called the characters one-dimensional. Someone else, probably Steve Parker but possibly myself, replied that Raistlin was at least two-and-a-half dimensional.

Raistlin is a sarcastic and possibly evil mage who is cursed with golden skin, magic tuberculosis, and hourglass-shaped pupils that make him see everything dying. He has a co-dependent relationship with his strong but dumb twin brother, quite accurately thinks he’s much smarter than anyone else in the party and says so at the least provocation, and is nasty to everyone but Tanis, whose IQ is at least over room temperature, and unloved outcasts, whom he identifies with. For obvious reasons, Raistlin is the definition of “scene stealer.”

The other things you should know before reading this story are that one of the companions, Goldmoon, has a magic healing staff that won’t help Raistlin because his health problems are the result of a curse rather than injury or naturally occurring illness; and that Tas is not an idiot despite appearances, but a kender (not “kinder,” sorry about the typo): like a hobbit, but genetically unable to experience fear.

I like this story more than it probably deserves. I couldn’t manage slash in the time I had, but did try to write it so that one could read it as slashy hurt/comfort if one is so inclined, though I was more interested in the role reversal. Plus, I got to refer to gelatinous cubes and twisty tunnels all alike. It’s probably just as well I had to upload in a hurry, or I might have had someone get eaten by a grue.
.

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