It’s been 13 years since authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman wrote a Dragonlance novel, based on the Dungeons & Dragons game setting whose tone they largely defined. That changes in August when their new book Dragons of Deceit, the first in the Dragonlance Destinies trilogy, is published starring the fan-favourite characters of the original novels as well as a new protagonist named Destina Rosethorn. Gizmodo is delighted — and maybe destined as well — to exclusively share this excerpt from the novel.
First, however, there’s the book’s official synopsis, which reveals that Destina’s story harkens back to the fight against the evil dragon goddess Takhisis from Weis and Hickman’s original Dragonlance trilogy from the ‘80s:
“Destina Rosethorn — as her name implies — believes herself to be a favoured child of destiny. But when her father dies in the War of the Lance, she watches her carefully constructed world come crashing down. She loses not only her beloved father but also the legacy he has left her: the family lands and castle. To save her father, she hatches a bold plan — to go back in time and prevent his death.
“First, she has to secure the Device of Time Journeying, last known to be in the possession of the spirited kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot. But to change time, she’ll need another magical artefact — the most powerful and dangerous artefact ever created. Destina’s quest takes her from the dwarven kingdom of Thorbardin to the town of Solace and beyond, setting in motion a chain of disastrous events that threaten to divert the course of the River of Time, alter the past, and forever change the future.”
Read the excerpt below!
Tasslehoff Burrfoot was bored.
If the residents of Solace had known a bored kender was among them, they would have fled for the hills. As it was, the residents had more important and joyful things to think about. Yesterday morning, Tika Majere had given birth to her second child, another baby boy.
Caramon had closed the inn so that he and Dezra could be with her and now, the day after, people loitered about the inn waiting to hear Caramon announce the baby’s name. At least, that was their excuse. When the Majere’s first son, Tanin, had been born, Caramon had celebrated by giving away free ale until the casks ran dry.
Tasslehoff had gone to the Majeres’ house yesterday to offer to help the baby into the world.
“I’m awfully good at boiling water,” he told Caramon. “I’m not really sure why I should boil water, but I hear people need lots of boiling water when they’re having babies — and cooking lobsters,” he had added as an afterthought.
Caramon had been so alarmed at this comparison that he had banished Tasslehoff from the house. Tas had gone out the back door and come in again by the front, thinking Caramon had meant to banish someone else, only Dezra had caught him. Grabbing him by the topknot, she had marched him down the stairs.
That had been yesterday and had provided a fair amount of excitement. But today, Tas was left on his own. The inn was still closed. He had nothing to do except sit on a fence under the vallenwood tree and kick his heels on the rails.
“I haven’t been to the blacksmith forge in a long time,” Tas remarked to no one in particular. “Not since that day my hair caught fire and Theros Ironfeld dunked me in the horse trough. Who knew that working the bellows as hard as I could would start a confla — confla — conflagration?”
Tas brought out the big word with pride. “Theros told me not to come back, but it’s a been a long time and I’ll bet he misses me. I’ll just go see him.”
Tas jumped off the fence, grabbed his hoopak — which was a combination walking stick and slingshot — and was heading off to visit his friend when someone tugged on his fur vest.
“I didn’t do it!” Tas cried immediately and raised his hands high in the air.
He turned around to see that it wasn’t the sheriff who had hold of him, but a fellow kender. She was a female and kind of pretty, or she would have been if someone had shown her how to dress properly and fix her hair.
“Hullo,” said Tas.
“Are you Tasslehoff Burrfoot?” she asked shyly.
“That’s me,” said Tas. “Have we met?”
“No, but I’ve heard about you,” said the kender. “You’re one of the Heroes of the Lance, and you travelled through time. I’ve been wanting to meet you. My name is Mari Mariweather.”
She and Tas shook hands.
“You haven’t been on the road very long, have you, Mari?” Tas asked, noting her sorry appearance. “Is this your first Wanderlust?”
“Why . . . um . . . yes,” said Mari, seeming startled by the question. “How did you know?”
“I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, Mari, for you seem very nice, but you’re dressed like a human.”
Mari glanced down at her dull grey-blue leggings and her dull grey-blue shirt, over which she wore a long dull grey-blue belted tunic. Tas went on to thoughtfully point out her shortcomings.
“You only have one pouch and it’s empty, though you do have a pocket, and that counts for something. And I don’t mean to fault your upbringing, but didn’t anyone tell you how to tie a proper topknot?”
Mari self-consciously put her hand to the lump on top of her head that was apparently meant to be a topknot, but which was more like a top straggle, for her long black hair was falling over her face.
“I . . . I guess not,” said Mari.
Tas felt sorry for her and thought perhaps he was being too harsh. He added kindly, “And that is a really interesting gemstone you are wearing. I’ve never seen one like it. In fact, it’s hard to see at all. It keeps changing shape.”
Tas reached out his hand, thinking he would touch the gem to make it stop changing before his eyes. But the moment his hand came close to it, he felt an extremely unpleasant squirmy sensation inside him, as though his stomach were trying to crawl off and hide behind his liver.
Tas drew back his hand, and the horrible feeling went away. He tried to touch the gem again, and the horrible feeling came back. He was entranced, but he didn’t have a chance to try it again, because Mari grabbed hold of the jewel and tucked it inside the collar of her shirt.
“How do you get your gemstone to make me feel all squirmy like that?” Tas asked.
“Never mind the gem,” said Mari. “I wanted to visit the Inn of the Last Home, but the sign says it’s closed. Is there somewhere else we can go to get a drink? I’m really thirsty.”
“The inn isn’t closed to me,” said Tas, adding proudly, “I’m family.”
He led her to the inn and jiggled the door handle.
“It’s locked. Do you have a key?” Mari asked.
“I don’t need one,” said Tas. “As Uncle Trapspringer always says, ‘Why insult a door’s purpose by locking it?’”
He reached into a pocket and took out his most prized possession, his lockpicking tools. He propped his hoopak against the door, sorted through his collection, chose a tension wrench and a hook, and inserted them into the lock.
“I’ll have us inside in a jiffy,” he said. He paused in his work to ask, “You don’t happen to know what a jiffy is, do you, Mari? I’ve always wondered.”
Dragonlance: Dragons of Deceit hits book stores both real and digital on August 2.
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