Authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, co-authors of the Dragonlance Dungeons & Dragons novels, are back with a powerful new book — and an exclusive excerpt for Polygon readers. Dragons of Fate, the sequel to 2022’s Dragons of Deceit and the second novel in the Dragonlance Destinies series, continues the story of main character Destina Rosethorn. At the same time, it literally turns back the clock on the world of Krynn, placing fan-favorite characters Raistlin Majere and Sturm Brightblade once again at the center of the action.
“The second book is explosive,” Hickman told Polygon in a recent interview. “It’s not the tame second act by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an explosive book with explosive events, and I’m very excited for people to take this part of the journey with us. Margaret and I to have a tendency to do very shattering second books, and this one feels like it follows that tradition.”
[Ed. note: This story will spoil major plot points for Dragons of Deceit, the first book in the Dragonlance Destinies series.]
In Dragons of Deceit, Destina uses powerful magic to travel back in time with the hope of saving her kingdom in the land of Solamnia. Unfortunately, those actions pull her and members of the iconic Dragonlance Companions physically back in time. Suddenly, the adventuring party finds themselves in the company of Magius and Huma Dragonbane, two legendary figures from Krynn’s past.
“I think we all have a vision of our heroes,” Hickman said. “We have a tendency to carve them in marble and make them perfect icons in our mind. And I think that, for us, having an opportunity to view Huma, to view Magius as people, as flawed individuals, and to get past the marble statues with them has been part of the journey of the book itself.”
“Raistlin and Sturm in particular have to struggle with this,” Weis said, “because Huma has always been Sturm’s hero and Magius [is] Raistlin’s. And now that they’ve met them, they have to deal with this.”
Hickman said the he and Weis have tried to remain faithful to their original characters, even when placing them within this new and unusual timeline.
“Sturm is still Sturm, and Raistlin is still Raistlin,” Hickman said. “Even though they’re confronting this real dissonance within them as they’re viewing their heroes, Sturm is reacting to it as Sturm would. [...] He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to want to sit down with you and bare his soul.
“Raistlin has always been so analytical and so distant anyway,” Hickman continued, “[always] trying to remove himself and observe everything from the outside, that I think we see the same viewpoint in him as he’s trying to grapple with these differences. [His challenge is to] grapple with the reality that is, rather than his expectations. It provides us, [...] as readers making this journey with them, an opportunity to look inside of Sturm and inside of Raistlin in ways that we haven’t ever been able to before.”
Our excerpt picks up from an early meeting between Raistlin and Magius. You can read the entire book when Dragons of Fate becomes available on Aug. 1.
Raistlin brought the words to a spell to mind — one he had memorized centuries ago — and took out a pinch of bat guano. A simple spell. As a novice mage once again, he lacked the magical skill to cast anything else.
And to think I had the power to challenge the gods, he thought with grim irony.
They heard the sound of feet rustling through the forest undergrowth and a shrill voice, singing.
“‘Your one true love’s a sailing ship, that anchors at our pier. We lift her sails, we man her decks, we scrub her portholes clear….’”
Raistlin let the words to the spell slide from his mind. “Tasslehoff.”
“I found Sturm,” Tas announced when he saw them. “He and Huma and some other men are coming to help the soldier. And look who came with me, Raistlin! This is Magius. And see what he has with him? He has your staff!”
Magius came into view, walking slightly behind Tas. The mage was a typical Solamnic in appearance, with hair the color of the ripening wheat and blue eyes. He had high cheekbones, a determined jaw, a sardonic smile, and a mocking glint in his eyes. He wore red robes, since war wizards were not permitted to wear the white robes that betokened peace, and a silver ring on his left hand. Eyeing the ring, Raistlin wondered if it was magical.
He knew from history that Magius was now in his thirties, as was his friend, Huma. That meant that Raistlin was the younger of the two, with far less knowledge and experience at this time in his life.
Magius walked slowly, leaning on his staff as though exhausted, which might be true, for he had been casting spells that fatigued the body and drained the mind. But Raistlin was not fooled; he had used the same deception himself, leaning heavily on his staff to lull an enemy into complacency by feigning weakness. With one word of magic, Magius could turn that staff into a deadly weapon.
Raistlin could not fault the mage for taking precautions, for he was now encountering strangers who had been skulking about in the woods during a time of war. But as his gaze swept over the group, Raistlin saw he appeared to be more intrigued than afraid.
“Sturm and Huma are bringing help for that soldier who got hurt,” Tas was saying. “Magius wanted to come ahead to meet everyone. This is Lady Destina Rosethorn.”
Destina did not look like a noble lady, for her clothes were covered with leaves and stained with blood, and her black hair had come unbound and tumbled down around her shoulders. But she shook out her skirt, brushed off the leaves, and greeted Magius with the poise she would have used to welcome a guest to her manor house.
“Thank you for coming to help us, sir,” she said graciously. She gestured to Tully. “This man was attacked by goblins and is wounded.”
Magius inclined his head in acknowledgment. “My friend is bringing men from the village with a litter.”
His voice was confident, self-assured, taking command of the situation — wary, but not fearful. His blue eyes flicked past Destina to fix on Raistlin.
“And this is my wizard friend, Raistlin Majere,” Tas continued excitedly. “I was telling Magius about you, Raistlin. How you cough up blood and you have golden skin and hourglass eyes.”
Magius regarded Raistlin with a cool, appraising look. “Golden skin. Pupils the shape of hourglasses. Your hair, prematurely white.”
“The Test,” said Raistlin by way of explanation.
Magius’s expression grew shadowed. He nodded in understanding and said nothing more. He, too, would have taken the Test. And, like Raistlin and all other mages, he would be loath to reveal what had happened to him.
Raistlin observed his fellow mage with interest and some reluctance.
Huma was celebrated as a hero in story and song, but none of the heroic tales mentioned Magius, probably because Solamnics distrusted magic, and they chose to ignore that their hero had been friends with a wizard. But Raistlin had heard stories of Magius all his life, for wizards honored him to this day and kept his memory alive. Yet Raistlin knew the old adage that warned against meeting your heroes, for they can never measure up to your expectations and were certain to disappoint. He wondered if that would be the case with Magius and held himself aloof.
“Greetings, Brother,” said Magius. “I have long thought I was the only wizard in Solamnia. I am pleased, albeit astonished, to meet another.”
“Raistlin is the friend I was telling you about,” said Tas. “The one who owns your staff.”
“And to think that all this time I have been laboring under the misconception that I owned my staff,” Magius said, his lips twitching in amusement.
“The kender has your staff confused with an old walking staff of mine,” Raistlin said.
“I am not confused,” Tas said, offended. “I know it’s the same staff because your staff had a dragon claw holding a crystal ball on top just like this one. I can prove it.” He turned to Magius. “Does the crystal ball on your staff light up when you say, ‘Shellac’? Because Raistlin’s staff used to do that.”
Magius had been amused before, but he was not amused now. The magic word used to light the crystal on the staff was Shirak, not shellac, but the two were close enough to raise questions.
“What else do you know about my staff, Master Burrfoot?” Magius spoke to the kender, but he was watching Raistlin.
“Call me Tas,” said Tas. “Everyone does. Raistlin said it was the ‘Staff of Magius’ and that it had been your staff. He was really proud of it and wouldn’t let me touch it even though I promised I wouldn’t get it dirty. Although I guess I should say the staff will be his, because, of course, it is your staff now.”
Magius raised an eyebrow at this puzzling statement. Raistlin was still holding the bat guano, and he seriously considered using it to blast the kender. Fortunately for Tas, Sturm and Huma entered the woods at that moment, and Tas forgot about the staff.