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    Review of DRAGONS OF THE HIGHLORD SKIES by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman


    DragonLance, Wizards of the Coast, July 2007

    Kitiara has left her friends behind as she carves out a place for herself in the service of Emperor Ariakas and the Death-God Queen Takhisis. She's risen to be a dragon-lord, with a host of soldiers and dragons at her command, but the Emperor seems to have grown cautious, and Kitiara wants more. Until, that is, she learns that her former companions are still alive and that the man who, supposedly, loved her has been spending time with the elf-princess who was once his fiancee. Driven by jealousy she's unwilling to acknowledge, Kitiara wanders around asking questions, serving her own interests rather than those of the Emperor. Fearing that her irrational behavior means she's betrayed him, the Emperor turns on Kitiara. But Kitiara doesn't turn on Takhisis and that loyalty may save--or doom--her.

    The Emperor has come up with a plan to destroy the damaged but still powerful Solamnic knights who oppose him. A dragon orb has already ruined the elf-king and Ariakas has learned of another dragon orb. If he can get it into the hands of one of the more arrogant of this arrogant group, it seems possible that internal dissention will tear them apart. Before he gives up on her completely, the Emperor tasks Kitiara to help set up the trap. Neither suspect, though, that many of Kitiara's former collegues, including the woman she hates with jealous rage, will become involved in the dragon orb search.

    Authors Margaret Weis (see more reviews of novels by Weis) and Tracy Hickman (see more reviews of novels by Hickman) combine in an intriguing look at the dark side of the DragonLance world. The Gods are returning, despite the skepticism of many--especially those on the side of order and 'good,' but not all the Gods are kind. Dragons and other powerful beings remain free to pursue their own goals--and cannot be compelled even by the gods. And human desires and needs, as much as noble causes, often drive decisions--and result in dramatic swings in the outcome of war.

    I've read and enjoyed a number of novels by Weis and Hickman and was looking foward to DRAGONS OF THE HIGHLAND SKIES. The writing remains strong and Weis and Hickman do a good job describing their world, the magic systems, battles, and the races of the DragonLance universe. Kender character Tasslehoff is always amusing, and the various knights face intriguing struggles between honor and other virtues. For me, however, HIGHLAND SKIES was weakened by the weakness in Kitiara's character. Her irrational jealousy could have driven the story but instead it made her dither ineffectually. Her decision to recommend promotion of the ineffectual Fewmaster Toede to the Emperor's high command is effectively treason--and Kitiara deserved everything Ariakas threw at her. The Emperor's current lover, Iolanthe comes across as far more interesting--and resourceful, although her ultimate decision that Kitiara is a winner seems dictated by the story rather than by anything Kitiara actually did.

    Fans of the DragonLance series will welcome the return of a number of favorite characters and the chance to learn more about this land and the events taking place. If you're not already a fan, this novel is not likely to make you one.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 11/27/07

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