ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • Books & Novels»
  • Fiction»
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Dragon Wing (Death Gate Cycle #1), by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Updated on January 31, 2016

"Dragon Wing" is the first book in Weis and Hickman's "Death Gate Cycle" heptalogy (for those playing at home, that means that there are seven books in the series). The "Death Gate Cycle" was, until I read "The Wheel of Time," the most complicated fantasy series I had ever read.

At some time in the future of an Earth that has humans, elves, dwarves, and wizards (and dragons -- don't forget the dragons), the wizards, who were a species unto themselves, split into factions and then declared war on each other. The faction that won, the Sartan, destroyed the Earth in order to keep the others, the Patryn, down. It seems, from what is said in the books, that the wizards lived openly among the humans, but the elves and dwarves were in hiding until after the war. I'm not sure about the dragons. I guess they would have been out in the open, since it would be hard to hide a dragon.

When I say "destroyed," I mean that the Sartan (now that I work in a Walmart in Texas, that name always makes me thing of "sartén," the Spanish word for "frying pan") broke the planet up into separate worlds based on the four classical elements -- air, fire, stone, and water -- and then locked the Patryn up in the Labyrinth, a prison that was designed to do the Sartan only knew what. Then the Sartan disappeared.

"Dragon Wing" takes place on Arianus, the world of air. There is no planet, so far as we know, in the world of air. There is, instead, a creature called a coral grub. Coral grubs create stone imbued with helium or some similar lighter-than-air molecule. As a result, the world consists of floating islands of stone with other heavier elements mixed in. Humans travel from island to island on dragonback. The elves are talented in making magical inventions, and they travel in ships that are designed to look like dragons. Actual dragon heads and wings are used in the creation of the ships.

Water is in extremely short supply on Arianus. As a result, they use a water standard as their currency. The elves use their ships to travel down below the "maelstrom," a continuous storm that contains most of the water in the world, and harvest the water, which they then sell to humans for exorbitant prices. The human unit of currency is the "barl," which is the value of one barrel of water.

"Dragon Wing" has three intersecting stories. We start out with Haplo, one of the Patryn, who is being sent by another Patryn, at this point only known as his "Lord," into the four worlds to upset the balance of power in these worlds. The plan is for the "Lord" to then come in and set everything to rights, seizing power in the process.

Second, we have the tale of Hugh the Hand, an assassin-for-hire, who is given the assignment of killing an eight-year-old boy. This boy is the son of the rulers of the human islands. His client? The rulers of the human islands themselves. Hugh ends up accompanied in his travels by one of the family retainers, Alfred Montbank, who has an interesting backstory of his own.

Third, we have the story of Limbeck Bolttightener, a "Geg" who lives on the lowest islands of the airy confection of Arianus. The Gegs (who are actually Dwarves) serve the Kicksey-winsey, a machine that seems to have its own purposes. The Kicksey-winsey randomly builds and destroys (and occasionally builds and then destroys) with no rhyme or reason that the Gegs can discover. Well, most of the Gegs serve the Kicksey-winsey. The Gegs were told to work on the machine by those they believe were gods, and generation after generation, they have done so with an unquestioning faith. Limbeck has dared to ask why they are doing these things.

I always have enjoyed Weis and Hickman's books immensely. Strangely, even though Weis and Hickman are probably most famous for the "Dragonlance" books, I read those books relatively late, as I couldn't quite figure out where to start. I believe that this was the first book by the pair that I had ever read. For what it is worth, I still have only read those "Dragonlance" books that were written by Weis and Hickman. Their reviews will follow. Someday.

One of the features of this book that I particularly enjoy is the footnotes. As the book progresses, there are little notes scattered throughout explaining things such as the nature of the "barl." I enjoy the change in pace between the narrative and the little asides to the reader.

I noticed one strange inconsistency that I wonder about. When they first arrive in the land of the Gegs, Hugh, Alfred, and Bane (who all grew up in the drought-stricken middle layer of Arianus) get caught in a thunderstorm and run for shelter. I have lived in South Texas long enough to know that after an extended drought, people will just stand and watch the rain. I would expect that people from a place that is in drought all the time, would not run for shelter, at least at first. They would stare up into the rain in wonder.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      museforthemoment 5 years ago

      Your review of the feelings received by Weiss and Hickman is admirable to the feelings I feel when I read their books. Perhaps I'll give Death Gate Cycle another shot for my further understanding. I feel as though their writing is humorous and witty.

      A fine summary of the book, much appreciated.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)