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[Where I Read] The Death Gate Cycle

Wields-Rulebook-Heavily

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It took me entirely too long to start this thread, but here it is.

First, let me thank Olshanski from these forums, who generously provided me with the first six books of the seven book series a good while back. And yes, I will read them all.

Spoiler: Show
The what what cycle?

Wikipedia. Get this, though; It was co-authored by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Y'know, the ones who did those Dragonlance trilogies which are basically about an asthmatic with delusions of grandeur? The one you're ashamed to admit you liked when you got into the whole RPG thing? You'd think this series would garner more attention purely on this.

And if you don't know who these authors are and can't let google do your work for you, ask a random gamer about who Raistlin is. It'll be enlightening, I promise.

Uh huh. Why are you doing this?

Well, because frankly I'm kind of disappointed. But also because this series was popular enough to inspire a decent adventure game (which I'll be showing off later along with reasons why I like that version somewhat better), and was written by a couple of fairly well-known authors, yet it doesn't get much attention today.

Yes, there are good reasons why. And that's partly what I'm examining. But I'm also doing it because.

How much will you be posting?

I'll be doing a chapter a day, come hell, high water or Limbo of the Lost II.

Will there be epic badness?

Mmmaybe. I dislike plenty about this series, and it's kind of insane to boot, but I don't actually hate it as such. There's decent bits, grand ideas and entirely too many books to cover the whole thing considering what actually happens in them. But there's people who really hate this series, and they're free to post why. And you lovers too, come on in.

Let me put this another way; I like this series enough that I'd rewrite it if given the change, but I dislike it enough to think it really needs that kind of revision. I'll even give (shudder) constructive criticism. Oof.

Are you going to explain anything in advance, here? An abridged verions, cliff notes...?

Nope. You all get to discover it as we go along if you're new, and you get to chuckle along if you're an old hand.

Will I be in it, young'un? Can't forget about James Bond in your spy thriller!

Hush, Zifnab. Your dated fantasy literature references will get their due airtime.

Did I mention there's a doddering old wizard called Zifnab who rides a dragon and can't recall his spells quite right? 'Cause there totally is. No relation to Fizban, of course, or to Zanfib from the Starshield series.

Hey, I'ma post a spoiler. Can I post a spoiler?



I'd rather you didn't, actually. If you can't sit on it at all, I'd prefer you A) put it behind an Sblock as I've done here (quote this post to find out how) or B) make a companion thread marked with spoilers to warn incoming traffic of spoileriffic spoilerness. those spoiler tags will do, but I don't like them. I shun them. Shuuun.


So.



This is Dragon Wing. Let us begin.
 

Wields-Rulebook-Heavily

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Prologue

The novel kicks off with an odd little chapter. It's simply one side of a conversation between two men we don't know in an undisclosed location we don't get to see, and it's about 90% exposition which won't be relevant for a good while yet.

I can hear the groans already. :D

We learn quite a bit. The unnamed speaker is a magician who apparently enjoys the finer things in life; he goes on about fine port, which he's generously pouring for both of them. He's speaking to a man named Haplo, who is about to be sent off to a journey. The mission is apparently sinister...

Mysterious Exposition Man said:
And they must not suspect. I know we've been over this before, but I want to stress this again.
The danger is great. If our ancient enemy catches even the slightest hint that we've escaped their
prison, they will move land, sea, sun, and sky-as they did once-to thwart us. Sniff them out,
Haplo. Sniff them out as that dog of yours sniffs out a rat, but never let them catch a whiff of you.
Cryptic talk of ancient enemies, a secret mission, great powers at work and a dog which is apparently Haplo's. One of these will be absolutely pivotal to the plot of the entire series, more so than the others.

The stranger goes on to talk a bit like Emperor Palpatine ("Your rage gives you strength"? Are these the villains?). He then raises a glass of port to the ancient enemy, known as the Sartan.

Then he talks about the Labyrinth, which I gather is a prison.

Mysterious Exposition Man said:
I know-time has no meaning in the Labyrinth. Let me think. When I first saw you, you looked to
be just over twenty-five years. A long life for those of the Labyrinth. A long life, and one that had
almost ended. ...

... Centuries ago, the Sartan thought to defeat our ambition by sundering the world that was ours
by rights and throwing us into their prison. As you well know, the way out of the Labyrinth is long
and tortuous. It took centuries to solve the twisting puzzle of our land. The old books say the
Sartan devised this punishment in hopes that our bounding ambition and our cruel and selfish
natures would be softened by time and suffering.
Man. Who am I supposed to be supporting here, again?

The Labyrinth was intended as a reformation facility of sorts, but something went disastrously wrong. The prison came alive and started viewing its inmates as a threat to be exterminated. The prisoners were meant to leave the Labyrinth as good healthy citizens, but they pretty much didn't leave it at all. The speaker, however, apparently did.

Mysterious Exposition Man said:
When at last I found my way out, I discovered the Nexus, this beautiful land the Sartan had
established for our occupation. And I came across the books. Unable to read them at first, I
worked and taught myself and soon learned their secrets. I read of the Sartan and their 'hopes'
for us and I laughed aloud-the first and only time in my life I have ever laughed. You understand
me, Haplo. There is no joy in the Labyrinth.
Then he talks about uniting the "four seperate worlds"- Fire, Water, Stone and Sky- under his rule. And this Haplo is to be his emissary to each, entering something called the "death gate" to get to them. His first destination is the realm of the sky. He's to infiltrate them, sow chaos as far as that's possible, hide from the Sartan and "keep his powers discreet". So now we know he has powers.

His final task is to bring someone to be the speaker's "disciple".

Mysterious Exposition Man said:
Someone who will return to preach the word, my word, to the people. It can be someone of any
race - elven, human, dwarven. Make certain that he or she is intelligent, ambitious, . . . and
pliable.
We've got us more info; there are elves and dwarves.

He ends on a cryptic note by quoting an "ancient text"; You, Haplo, shall be the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

Since when do fantasy characters quote the Bible?

That's actually a really odd way to part with a messenger. A voice in the wilderness is usually a warning voice that isn't heard. Foreshadowing much? It doesn't really make much sense if not.

And that's the last we'll hear of that for quite a few chapters. Yay, relevance!
 
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Theron

The Best Legionnaire
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I remember selling these when they came out, though I'm pretty certain I didn't read a one of 'em.
 

salinea

grievous lack of
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I loved loved those books when I was 15. First books by Weis & Hickman I read, which I was enthusiastic enough with to even go as far as reading those weird Dragonlance franchise books (that was also before I got into RPG) which were okay but not as good as Death Gate (or Rose of the Prophet).

I utterly refuse to reread nowadays because I know it would spoil my memories ;)

Thread followed ^_^
 
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Summer Solstice

Fire and sunlight
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I loved loved those books when I was 14 or 15. First books by Weis & Hickman I read, which I was enthusiastic enough with to even go as far as reading those weird Dragonlance franchise books (that was also before I got into RPG) which were okay but not as good as Death Gate (or Rose of the Prophet).

I utterly refuse to reread nowadays because I know it would spoil my memories ;)

Thread followed ^_^
I read them again in my mid-20s, and wasn't disappointed :)
 

DivineCoffeeBinge

coffee. COFFEE!!!!!
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I kinda dug this series, though it's been many, many moons since last I read them; I do remember, however, that I ideas more than the execution. There was a lot of potential in the Death Gate Cycle; it just... didn't get realized, for the most part.
 

DivineCoffeeBinge

coffee. COFFEE!!!!!
Validated User
I loved loved those books when I was 15. First books by Weis & Hickman I read, which I was enthusiastic enough with to even go as far as reading those weird Dragonlance franchise books (that was also before I got into RPG) which were okay but not as good as Death Gate (or Rose of the Prophet).

I utterly refuse to reread nowadays because I know it would spoil my memories ;)

Thread followed ^_^
Rose of the Prophet still holds up IMHO. Best thing that pair ever wrote (Certainly better than the frankly awful Darksword Trilogy!). I love love love the Rose of the Prophet.

...so, yeah. :D
 

salinea

grievous lack of
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Okay, Haplo.

At some point when I was reading those books, we had a biology class where we introduced to the concept of Haplodiploid which, well I forgot what it was, but at the time it helped me remember the notion, because in Greek, it means simple or single.

Haplo's named Haplo because he's aloooooone. :D
 

salinea

grievous lack of
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Rose of the Prophet still holds up IMHO. Best thing that pair ever wrote (Certainly better than the frankly awful Darksword Trilogy!). I love love love the Rose of the Prophet.

...so, yeah. :D
Hehe, I agree it's their best (I rather disliked Darksword, I don't get why so many people like it so much). I'll probably try reread that one once; at least it's more even in overall storytelling than Death Date, definitely.
 
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