The Art of Dragonlance (1987)

The Art of the Dragonlance Saga reveals much of the design work that went into not only the illustrations, but the world, the characters and the stories. It is a little hard for me to imagine Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Keith Parkinson and more doing production work on the scale that Dragonlance must have demanded. There are hundreds of sketches and paintings here. The work that went into designing plausible lances for dragon-back combat is particularly impressive. I’ve picked some faves.

My favorite is “The Last Spell of Fistandantilus,” by Keith Parkinson (I slightly favor Parkinson over other artists of this period). There’s such drama here and Fistandantilus is a picture perfect evil mage. Bonuses for Raistlin’s candelabra staff, the rope pillar from Sinbad and the tiny Tardis on the shelf by the skull.

Elmore’s painting of my favorite character, the slain Sturm Brightblade, is an appropriate mix of sadness and steel. It galls me a bit to realize that Sturm exists and dies largely to propel Laurana’s story forward. On the other, it is nice to see a guy get fridged for a gal for once.

Lord Soth’s Charge is a two-page spread, so I consoled myself with Clyde Caldwell’s “The Hands of Doom.” I still don’t know how I feel about Kitiara. On one hand, the books seem to punish her for embracing masculine pursuits (power, promiscuity). On the other, she’s an out of control jerk. I find I don’t have much sympathy for her here, but Soth looks particularly badass.

I’ve always thought “Dragons of Faith,” depicting the Perechon’s encounter with the Blood Sea maelstrom, was a great mood piece. Recent conversation with my pal Shawn Dillon has made me doubt what is going on with the bone structure in the dragon’s wings. My current theory: not a dragon at all, but a tinker gnome air ship.

Finally, I’ve a fondness for Jeff Easley’s “The Epic Quest” less because of Dragonlance and more because the portion featuring Sturm was re-used to front module X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield.

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