Do you remember the first time you set foot in the world of Krynn? Maybe you binge-read the classic Dragonlance novels when you were a kid. Or maybe you explored the harrowing modules in your D&D game during the ’80s. Basically, if you’re a Dungeons & Dragons fan, chances are good that you’re also a Dragonlance fan. Authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman began the story in 1984 with Dragons of Autumn Twilight. And, almost 40 years later, they have returned to those beloved characters in Dragons of Deceit.
Weis and Hickman sat down with Nerdist to chat about the new Dragonlance trilogy, what their journey has been like, and navigating their own River of Time.
The Dawn of Time
Dragons of Deceit is the first book in some time to bring Weis and Hickman back to the world they created. (Over the years, 190 books have taken place in the world of Dragonlance, written by a variety of authors.) The new novel follows the adventures of Destina Rosethorn. She’s the daughter of a Knight of Solamnia and on an ill-advised quest to save her father from an untimely death during the War of the Lance. Along the way she crosses paths with wizards and gods, a dragon, and a certain irrepressible kender.
“This series that we’re doing is very much a love letter from us to our fans,” Tracy Hickman tells Nerdist. “When we first wrote Dragonlance, when we first wrote Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I don’t know, back in the dawn of time, we honestly had no idea that there would be anybody out there. The company didn’t have any expectations about a novel going out there.”
Hickman recalls the Gen Con of 1984 where they staged a dramatic reading to promote the very first Dragonlance novel. Weis sent her 8-year-old daughter around the convention floor with a sign to encourage curious attendees to make their way to that evening’s performance. “We didn’t know if anyone would come!” says Hickman. “Although we did have a huge crowd that showed up that night. It was a lot of fun.”
Welcome Back to Krynn
Dragonlance fans have followed the adventures of the Heroes of the Lance and the setting of Krynn ever since. It’s been years since Hickman and Weis revisited the world they created; however, they were determined to make the trip again for Dragons of Deceit.
“A lot of the locations we visit in these [new] books are based on the modules,” says Weis, “so we went back to those to look at maps and diagrams, and Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of the Dragonlance World. We used that extensively.”
They also have a real-life Dragonlance wizard to call on. “It was a challenge [to write Dragons of Deceit] because it’s been a long time, and many worlds in between,” Weis says with a laugh. “We enlisted the help of Shivam Bhatt, who is a Dragonlance expert. Whenever we had questions about any of the background or any of the things we had written previously in the core books, we asked Shivam. He was a big help.”
“He’s helped add a unique voice to what we’ve written here, and I very much appreciate that,” agrees Hickman. Weis didn’t need help recalling one of her favorite characters to write, the delightful kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot, who returns in Dragons of Deceit. “I really, really have fun with Tasslehoff!” she says.
“People always asked me who I identified with as a character,” Hickman says, “and I would tell them that Sturm was very much who I wanted to be. And that Tanis is probably closer to who I actually am, but I come across as Fizban.”
Hello Destina Rosethorn, a Formidable New Heroine
The protagonist, Destina Rosethorn, is a new character. And she’s next in a long lineage of Dragonlance women who are more than capable of holding their own, Hickman says.
“We’ve always written strong women in our works,” Hickman affirms. “In Dragonlance, we have portrayed women in very positive and very proactive roles. That’s been a conscious decision on our part to do so. In some ways, I think Destina is a descendent of that ancestral line of strong and interesting women.”
“I think Destina is almost too strong for her own good,” adds Weis. “When we first meet her in the book, she’s a teenager. And like any teenager, she knows all the answers, she’s much smarter than her parents, if they’d just listen to her! Then, as life carries her along, she finds out she doesn’t have all the answers, that she has a lot of life lessons to learn along the way. That to me is what makes her very interesting. And a lot of fun.”
A Tremendous Life
Destina sets off to find the magical Device of Time Journeying to change her father’s fate. In Dragonlance, humans traveling through the River of Time can only make small ripples in the past. If Weis had the chance to navigate through our world’s history, she says, she’d enjoy a nice cup of tea with Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Hickman remembers being invited to visit the Johnson Space Center in Houston after a convention years ago. He toured the facility, and when he stepped into the Apollo Mission Control Center, it actually felt like traveling through time. He counts it as one of many opportunities he and Weis owe to their loyal readers.
“One of the wonderful things about this tremendous life that our fans have granted us is that we’ve been able to go places, meet people, and see things that otherwise we may not have ever done,” Hickman says.
“We landed on an aircraft carrier!” adds Weis.
“We did,” Hickman replies with a grin. “There are many people and places in history I’d love to visit, and all kinds of places we could go, but we have done so many amazing things in this life that it’s hard to wish for something more.”
Dragons of Deceit hits bookstore shelves on August 2, 2022. And Wizards of the Coast is currently playtesting new Dragonlance-based character options if you’re ready to dive back into Krynn yourself!
Kelly Knox is a pop culture and entertainment writer in the Seattle area. She’s the author of Star Wars: Be More Obi-Wan and a co-author on the upcoming book Star Wars Everyday. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk Star Wars, pop culture, and bad dad jokes.