The definitive volume to the Lost Chronicles Trilogy was probably also the most anticipated. Long time Dragonlance fans have been salivating at the prospect of what could be the last hurrah by the team that gave birth to the world of Dragonlance. To top it all off, this book would finally tell the events behind the scenes in Dragons of Spring Dawning from the perspective of one of the most beloved (and intriguing) Dragonlance characters: Raistlin.
This 300 some odd page book details the mage's rise to power as well as his machinations and schemes. Many of the characters we are all familiar with appears in cameos as well as lead roles: Kitiara, Lord Soth, the Innfellows, Par-Salian, LaDonna, Justarius, etc. In fact some of the characters that first appeared in Highlord Skies return - most prominently, the witch Iolanthe. I was pleasantly surprised by the narrative in this book because the first half of it felt like the sequel to Highlord Skies. Kudos to Weis and Hickman for maintaining a sense of continuity.
Much of the story weaves in and out of Spring Dawning. No doubt many fans will want to revisit Spring Dawning just to remember what went on where and when. It isn't essential but it was jolly good reminiscing and reflecting on events in Spring Dawning and tying it to Raistlin's story in Hourglass Mage. The first two entries in the Lost Chronicles saga were basically the untold tales that happened in Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Winter Night but Hourglass Mage is the only book that can be called a companion book to the original Chronicles. This book provided many answers to questions readers had in Spring Dawning. The authors managed to tie MANY plotlines in MANY books neatly into the narrative and that is no easy feat. The writing was crisp and the characters were imagined and reimagined brilliantly. Barring Tasslehoff and Palin Majere, Raistlin is probably the most well thought out character by Weis and Hickman. And in this book, they have fleshed him out extremely well. What a way to end it all.
There are a few misgivings as I read Hourglass Mage. First, it seems the writers were weighed down by continuity and seemingly disregarded some of the events in the Legends trilogy, particularly Raistlin's relationship with Fistandantilus. Weis and Hickman delved into some parts of this twisted relationship but they seem to have glossed over it and kinda tied it up (confusingly) in a rush at the end while focusing more on Raistlin's part in the end of Spring Dawning. I was disappointed that the writers did not straighten out one of the most important plotline involving Raistlin's ascent to power. The ending also seemed rushed and the book just felt too short. I'd venture to say Hourglass mage almost read like it was incomplete.
Overall, Hourglass Mage is a must-read book for any Dragonlance fan. Enjoy it while you can because over the past few months, the outlook of Dragonlance has not been favorable; comic lines halted, licensing not renewed, Wizards' non-committal attitude, etc. Maybe this is the end but then again, maybe it's just the end of a chapter...