I’m in sixth grade at Parkway Central Middle School in Chesterfield, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis). The bullying has grown so badly that I would leave for a private school the next year to escape it. For now, though, I eat my lunch, by myself, as quickly as possible. I escape immediately to the library. It is there that I discover a book series that would have a profound effect on my life: Dragonlance. I am immediately taken in by everything about the books. Dragon men? Woah. A mage with hourglass eyes who sees the world dying around him? Oh my goodness. I could go on, but you get the point.
I’m 29 now, and still love Dragonlance as much as I ever have. There are other fantasy series that I love, but none that have ever connected with me the same way. To this day I’m not really sure what is in the magic that has caused this deep love and affection for a series of books that I will be the first to acknowledge is flawed (in particular the first book). I’d say that one of the reasons why I’m still deeply in love with Dragonlance is that they led me to my favorite band, Blind Guardian through their song “The Soulforged” (which I’m listening to as I type this), except I was lead to Blind Guardian because Dragonlance was already my favorite book series and the Dragonlance Nexus had linked to the band’s website.
As I was conceptualizing this article it got me thinking, and I know at least one of the reasons why it hit me when it did. Virtually all of the characters are outcasts of some sort. Tanis Half-Elven has no real home, Raistlin Majere is the super-intelligent outcast from society, and even the kender, Tasslehoff Burrfoot is so profoundly changed by his experiences that he can’t really go home. When you’re young and bullied, characters like that connect on a deeper level than they otherwise would. In particular, I always identified with Tanis. He was the leader, but man was he flawed. He made some good decisions, but he also made a lot of bad ones.
Of course, I don’t think I would have gotten a tattoo of the Staff of Magius if it wasn’t for the second trilogy, Dragonlance Legends, where the world came much more into its own. The trilogy is both a prequel and a sequel (thanks time travel) and is a much deeper and personal story than the Chronicles (the first trilogy). The time travel works great, and because it focuses on fewer characters these books are able to stay focused better. While I cannot be objective, and can admit that Chronicles is flawed, Legends is about as perfect as it gets. I could drone on and on, but just read it.
I’m listening to some more Blind Guardian and am again thankful for Dragonlance. When I was at my lowest, it was there for me. It lead me to a world of wonder that I still enjoy going to. It showed me that it is possible to take something that shouldn’t work, (and as anyone who knows about the development of the books, it shouldn’t have) can. More importantly it’s just something that I will love until the day I die because it transcends any of the logical reasons for loving it. When you discover something like that, it is best to cherish it and be thankful for it.