Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dragons of Autumn Twilight Re-Read: Chapters 7 & 8: 80s Movies Rock!

So, stole my idea. They are doing a Dragonlance Chronicles re-read. Okay, maybe stole is a strong word, but it is what it is. I decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so I've been posting edited versions of what I'd posted for the early posts from a few years back and decided I'm going to cross post my thoughts here. In this part, for Chapters 7 & 8, I'm going to wax poetic about how the writers seem to be borrowing heavily from 80s action movies. 

First, a general observation I made. This book has all the feels of an 80s action movie. (Stay with me for the analogy,) So far, our story generally follows two80s action movies plot tropes: the getting the band back together and the neighborhood has really gone to crap. It's pretty interesting that this follows those tropes pretty close which makes sense as those types of movies were the most prevasive of entertainment forms of the time. The old band gets back together after a period of time away from one another doing what they do (looking for proof of the real gods) and come back mostly empty handed with a stranger in the midst that sets off the plot of the story proper that happens to be related to why the band broke up in the first place. And the old neighborhood isn't the way they had left it. It's rife with strange clerics and problems with the decidedly crooked and corrupt local authorities. (Another trope from most 80s action movies!) It's kind of fun looking back at it and how much fun the authors are obviously having with playing with these tropes. And chapter 7 starts off with another trope from action movies: the damsel tells her story as they deal with the DMs random encounter of the chapter: tangleshoot vines.

They subvert it a little bit in that she's not a romantic interest for any of our leads but there is little for her to do as a character other than what is convenient for the plot at this point. Early on, this is much more a problem for me now than it was when the books first came out. Her story is moving, honest and really well done as far as flashbacks go. 

They play with another trope from 80s action films (actually most action films): the comic relief. Tas is actually kind of pitch perfect in this chapter as a perfect counter to the intensity of the fighting that is going on. In the midst of this fear and terror at what they are witnessing as a group, strange creatures that a group of relatively seasoned adventurers (I'm loathe to use that word) have never experienced before, and indvidually: Riverwind's obvious PTSD, Tanis's attempts to micromanage, Flint's age and Sturm losing his precious sword. The only ones keeping it together are the Twins and Tas. The literary slapstick of the scene between Tas and Flint during the fight is one of the best examples of slapstick in text I've seen. It reads the way a Three Stooges fight would appear on the page. On the other hand, I'm already annoyed with Flint's helm, dude is a dwarven warrior and a craftsman and can't find helm that fits. I don't remember if there was something mentioned prior as to why the damn thing doesn't fit, but it's particularly annoying already.

The Twins hold their own, but as times there's a little too much gamemechanicsposition going on with them (I'm laying claim to that phrase, but feel free to use it!) while Sturm continues to be dumb and kind of douchy. Scoffing at the idea of hiding in a ditch but has no problem stabbing an enemy in the back, he get taken out of the fight early. 

The interesting thing about this fight is that while the Companions deal with the enemy in pretty good order (these mooks are next level up mooks but mooks nonetheless), they kind of get their asses handed to them and are forced to retreat, another popular 80s action movie trope. What comes next? A training montage?

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