The Great DRAGONLANCE Re-Read – Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home, edited by Mary Kirchoff, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

First Impressions: This is the first of the four Dragonlance almanacs (for lack of a better word). This one was published in February 1987, just before the Tales trilogy. I guess I got out of order; my bad! Leaves and its successors contain a series of articles on literally any subject at all related to Dragonlance. It seems primarily aimed for readers of the novels, taking a lot of its content from the Dragonlance Dungeons & Dragons adventures. Only one cover this time, and Claire and I quite like it! While it’s got the usual ‘gully-dwarves-are-stupid-hur-hur’ joke that’s painfully not funny, the overall mood is quite peaceful and sweet, with the old friends and the old Inn where it all started.

The Good: This is a real grab-bag of contents, so there’s a few very interesting articles in here. I liked the framing narrative about the Inn of the Last Home. It was very nostalgic, wth lots of familiar faces returning. Some of the basic reprinted information must have been appreciated by people who hadn’t found the adventure modules at the time, although I imagine it would have been frustrating for people who had those and were looking for new information. I really liked the in-character sections from Lord Gunthar, leader of the Knights of Solamnia, about the military history of the War of the Lance, the dragons, and the Knights. Finally, while I normally find the cooking sections in these books ridiculous and loosely themed at best, I must admit that I have made the famous spiced potato recipe on several occasions: it’s dead simple and very tasty.

The Bad: Oh dear.

Firstly, the topics in this book appear to have been chosen at random, with everyone just writing about subjects in which they were interested. There’s no information about the characters or the geography of Dragonlance, both fairly important topics. I can understand having only a few maps, with The Atlas of the Dragonlance World (which I won’t be reviewing) coming out the same year, but information about the cities and cultures would have been appreciated. The religious information is extremely scant, with some gods receiving almost no attention at all. The history of the world, however, is covered twice – once in a four-page overview, and then in an eight-page timeline. One or the other would have done, I think.

There’s a lot I could say about what they did choose to include. There is a truly ridiculous amount of space given to numerology, rune-lore and folklore, and it’s pretty rubbish. If you wanted to include new-age material in here, talking about the Talis cards which came in the D&D adventures would have made more sense than having a page about how to tell if it’s going to rain, or the interminable breakdown of the names of the Heroes of the Lance. I do think there’s a point to some of this sort of thing – tarot cards are a great tool for self-reflection, for instance – but this section is self-indulgent and pointless. Meanwhile, I disliked the poems the first time around. The inclusion of sheet music for them is hilarious – did anyone ever play any of these? Most of the recipes are only tangentially related to Dragonlance at best, with Fizban’s Fireball Chilli being a prime offender.

The reason I decided to include this book in my re-read, which is meant to cover the novels, is the presence of a short story in here: ‘The Manuscript of Dunstan VanEyre.” It’s the story of two young Aesthetics from the Great Library of Palanthas going on a quest around the world, interviewing members of different nonhuman groups. Unfortunately, it’s pretty dull. The majority of the story, as I said, are ethnographic interviews with a draconian, minotaurs, elves, dwarves and finally a dragon. Our main characters are not described very well at all. The interview subjects are generally quite unlikeable as well,  and the overall theme that comes through is that everyone thinks they’re right, but that the ‘good’ elves and dwarves, and the ‘evil’ minotaurs and draconians, are not so different – good and evil are just the names of the teams for which they’re playing.

The Neutral: A lot of material from here is repeated from other sources. “How The Companions Met” is reprinted, with minor expansion, from DL5: Dragons of Mystery. It will soon be superseded by the Meetings Sextet (1991–1993), and then by “The Soulforge” by Margaret Weis (1998). “Bertrem’s Essays on the Races of Krynn” originally appeared in Dragon magazine. Other unspecified sections were taken from the DL series for Dungeons & Dragons – without checking, I’d say the information about the pantheon, the history of Krynn, the magic items, and some of the legends. The poems are, of course, from Chronicles and Legends.

Final Rating: One and a half Disks of Mishakal out of five. Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home ambitiously subtitles itself ‘The Complete Krynn Source Book’ but it’s got too much reprinted information, too much superfluous information and too much omitted information. The various Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting guides make this completely superfluous, as far as I’m concerned. One for the completists only.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s