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Reviews of 'The Survivors'

The Survivors

by Dan Willis
Tracy Hickman Presents The Anvil of Time, Volume 2

Reviews of 'The Survivors'

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Reviewer: BeezerMN

Rating: Stars

The Survivors by Dan Willis is the second novel in a series of stand alone novel in the Tracy Hickman Presents; The Anvil of Time. The first book is titled The Sellsword, the third novel (set for release in March, 2009) is titled Renegade Wizards, and the fourth novel in this series (scheduled for a June, 2009 release) is The Forest King. I had never heard of Mr. Willis before this novel, however, he has written three Young Adult novels also set in the DragonLance Universe, they are; Dragon Knight, The Dragon Well, and Wizard's Return. The Anvil of Time series focus on parts of Krynn's history that have yet to be written about, by sending someone back in time with the Anvil and having them observe the events. It's an interesting concept, and one that eposes new authors to DragonLance fans. Here are my thoughts on this novel.

The plot of this book focuses on a small dwarven city called Ironroot when the Cataclysm strikes. As like the rest of Krynn during this time period, there is a great deal of angst between those who believe in the gods and those who do not. A series of events forces a group of dwarfs to trust each other, and work together as a team, in order to make their way out of the chaos that has occurred deep underground. In order to survive they must put their faith in Reorx, and each other. It is a rather self-contained, and linear plot, after all a group of survivors seeking to get out of chaos in an underground world – there is really only so much you can do with that plot. For the most part, Mr. Willis, does a fine job of moving the plot along and keeping things interesting. As one would expect, the need for a safe place to sleep as well as finding food dominates sections of the book. Above all else though, this novel is a story of survival and determination. In that vein this novel does a good job at that. My only wish is that the plot would have been a little deeper and more involved. However, as I said before, I understand that with the plot line there is really only so much one can do with it.

The characters in this book are a small select group once the chaos starts. Prior to the chaos the first one hundred pages is focused on developing a couple characters, most notably Bradok Axeblade and Chisul. We are able to see why they come to be where they are and some of their motivations. In a sense this story is also somewhat a coming of age story as well for Bradok. I have been a long fan of character development in novels; in fact it is one of the things I most look for. While Bradok certainly has a great deal of character development, at times if felt like he was being jerked into developing. Meaning, at times, it didn't feel like a gradual process that he slowly grew into.. It was more of a stopping and starting type thing. Which, if you consider the circumstances they were under could make some sense. There were a couple characters that I would have liked to know more about, maybe a couple of extra little nuggets of information to make them more real and feel less like fodder. Teal is a perfect example, more of what was done for her should have been included for the other characters. It was very easy connecting with their plight and concerns though. Overall, the characters are solid but at times a little two dimensional.

A couple criticisms about this novel:

1 – I would have liked a couple more substantial sub plots. By nature this is a rather linear plot line, so more substantial sub plots may have helped liven up the story that extra notch.

2 – This novel is about dwarves, as such I expect dwarves to act, behave, and talk in a certain manner. At times they talked like dwarves, but it seemed intermittent and not consistent. Things such as accents, word usage, and things like that. I was expecting more gruffness from them, especially considering the situation they find themselves in.

Some things I liked about this novel:

1 – I liked the plot and setting of the story. As someone who has read every DragonLance novel it was nice to read about an event that occurred during the Cataclysm that we had not heard about before. With a world as rich as Krynn, there are so many stories like that and it's nice when they see the printed page.

2 – I like the intimacy of the characters and plot. This is not a wide sweeping story with a multitude of characters. It's a small tight story with a handful of characters. We get to know them, mostly Bradok, in ways that are not usually possible in books like this.

Overall, this is a pretty good DragonLance novel. There is some predictability to it, in terms of the plot and how things end up – so that was slightly disappointing. However, when you look at it in terms of the reason behind the Anvil of Time series, this book accomplishes what it is supposed to do. While the book is not a deep book by any means, it flows nicely and is an easy read on a lazy day. I would certainly recommend this book to DragonLance fans. I would also recommend this novel to those who are looking at dipping their toes into the genre. Well read fantasy fans may not find nearly the amount of enjoyment as others with this book that others may have. It is solid writing, I am just not sure it will have a mass appeal to deviate from just DragonLance fans. But, like I said, those DragonLance fans they will most likely enjoy this book.

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