Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dragons of Autumn Twilight Book and DVD Review

On Monday, I finished reading the first part of the Dragonlance Chronicles, which is the Dragons of Autumn Twilight. The following night, I watched the animated DVD of the same name which I had gotten for Christmas. I thought I would review them here since they are somewhat roleplaying related.

Warning: I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible. There really aren't any in terms of the book, but the movie review may discourage some people.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, first published in 1984, was an excellent book. I actually read the annotated version that combines this book with the next two in the series, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning.

I felt that the book was quite excellent, and not what I had expected. Having read quite a bit of other fantasy books both recently and in the past (in no particular order, J.R.R. Toklien, R.A. Salvatore, Elizabeth Haydon, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, Joel Rosenberg, Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and Goerge R.R. Martin), I enjoyed some of the choices that were made with this book.

While Salvatore describes combat in detail, especially with regards to balance and position, this book used more description of external events. Actual combat is described more in terms of feelings than actions.

The protagonists didn't trust each other much in this book, which I found to be a strong element. Not everyone gets along, and that creates conflict and moves the story along.

D&D staples such as the elves and dwarves are here, and we are also introduce to kender in the form of Tasselhoff, which takes the tried and true halfling/hobbit concept and makes them a little more unique.

The annotations were at times sparse, but did give some insight into the design process, especially with how the book tied in with the TSR D&D modules. Tracy Hickman especially commented on how game elements were followed strictly in the first book, and relaxed as they continued on in the series.

I'd recommend the book to any fan of the genre.

The movie, while good in parts, failed in some major areas. Some of my favorite scenes in the book were not present in the movie at all. Unfortunately, characters and lines from the removed scenes were added back to the script, at times forcing the dialog or events. Some of the events were changed, probably to preserve pacing in the movie, but it ended up stripping away motivations from characters. It made the whole movie seem rushed.

Some of the animation was quite good. However, I didn't care for the combination of 2d and 3d animation. Whiled it made the bad guys look otherworldly, it didn't mesh well. Unfortunately, most of the animation was quite poor. I found myself comparing this movie to the anime Record of the Lodoss War, which I find would earn the subtitle 'A Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Tale' better than Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Especially considering that both 'dungeons' in the book were removed from the movie!

The book ended on a good note, and could be read separately from the others. The movie, however, foreshadowed some events and not enough of others. It seems optimistic on the part of the producers that finishing the trilogy is guaranteed.

I wouldn't say the movie is worthless. The voice acting is good, and they follow the story in the book for the most part. However, I'll say that the book is far better than the movie, but I say that about all movie adaptations of books, but in this case it is very apt.

Feel free to leave you own comments!

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