Raistlin Majere was my jam.
One of the things Before We Go’s reviewers have been revealing is that a lot of us share the same books that made us the lovers of fantasy we are. Ryan Howse did a fantastic job talking about what the Canticle books by RA Salvatore meant to him. Jodie Crump talked about the wonders of the Dragonlance Chronicles.
For me, however much I liked these books, the ultimate book series was Dragonlance Legends: Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, and Test of the Twins. These were the sequel books to the Dragonlance Chronicles but I actually read them first. Furthermore, they were not only my first exposure to Dungeons and Dragons fiction but they were my first fantasy novels ever. I mean, not counting Narnia and the Hobbit when I was in grade school.
The premise is the big epic heroic battle against the forces of darkness is over. The forces of good are triumphant and the forces of evil are defeated. I always thought that was a tremendously clever way of opening a campaign setting because, even then, I knew enough about high fantasy to be bored of epic battles against good versus evil. Indeed, it was such a clever idea that I pretty much copied it with Wraith Knight (shh). A war of light and dark can usually end only one way while the aftermath can go anyway you want it to.
War hero Caramon Majere, who I misread as Cameron for a decade, is a fat drunk who is barely keeping himself from being abusive. While the rest of the Heroes of the Lance have gone on to bigger and better things, he’s allowed himself to wallow in self-pity as well as regret. There’s also some undiagnosed PTSD but there isn’t exactly much in the way of psychology on Krynn. The biggest regret Caramon has is his brother Raistlin Majere turning to the Dark Side (or Black Robes in this case).
Raistlin Majere. Man, if there has been a more influential character to my writing then it’s either Harry Dresden or no one. Raistlin was the man when I was a fourteen-year-old nerd thinking he was smarter than everyone else. As a teenager, you think the entire world is out to get you and everyone is jealous of your superior intellect–or maybe that was just me. As an adult, I look back on Raistlin Majere with different eyes. Perhaps the eyes of wisdom. A genius, indeed, but so self-absorbed and misanthropic that he made 90% of his own problems.
In a way, Raistlin also serves as an excellent rebuttal for all those dark and tragic romances out there. He and the cleric, Crysania, have all the hallmarks of a bad boy/good woman romance but the books never shy away from what a terrible person he is. He could have happiness with her but to do so would require him to give up his self-agrandizing plans that have no real purpose to him. Raistlin wants to be a god but, really, why? What’s he going to do once he’s a god? It was an interesting concept to present to a teenager.
I also loved the character of Crysania who was a spoiled and somewhat arrogant woman but possessed of a genuine empathy as well as faith. She wants to help Raistlin but also has own ambitions that are guiding her somewhat foolish actions. I also love the story of Caramon Majere as he struggles to overcome his trauma as well as addiction. He also needs to divorce himself of his toxic relationship with his brother that was, previously, his only reason for living.
Fantastic series and everyone should read it.