The Legend Of Huma (1988)

A prequel to the then-deserved-hit and now-overbloated-franchise called ‘Dragonlance’, this is the story of (you guessed it, subtlety was never D-Lance’s strength) Huma, a young man who is a Knight of Solamnia (Solamnic Knights are warriors that live by a Code encompassing the “Oath” and the “Measure”, the latter much more complex than the former) and his “adventures”.

Critics of Dragonlance in general have a point: The stories are fairly simple and easy to follow, having nowhere near the grand scope and descriptive power of, say, J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.  However, sometimes grand scope and descriptive power can be taken to a bit of an extreme.  Personally, while I admire the skill of Tolkien’s work, after a while reading three pages of description on exactly how a twig broke, its causes and ramifications, etc…does get a bit dull and boring.

So take this for what it is:  An excellent bit of escapist fiction, on par with the few other D-Lance novels written before the idea turned into an assembly-line production and the quality turned from predictable but charming to redundant, absurd, and just plain BAD.

In a way, this is to ‘Lord of the Rings’ what the original ‘Star Wars’ is to the second trilogy:  Much more simplistic, much more predictable, much more humorous, much more FUN, perhaps a little bit cheezy but possessing an undeniable and lasting charm that the latter simply did not (At least, in the case of ‘Star Wars’…Tolkien’s ‘Ring’ series certainly had its own charm, but the grim, boring, state-of-the-art “perfection” of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels did not).

Accepting it for what it is, it is a brilliant piece of work fully undeserving of the scorn heaped (oftentimes rightfully so) on the setting itself.  A story of “Good” versus “Evil” couldn’t be more obviously divided, but how often did you wonder who was “really” the bad guy in ‘Star Wars – A New Hope’?  Knowing Darth Vader represented “Evil” and Luke Skywalker represented “Good” (With Han Solo somewhere in the middle, admittedly) did nothing to lessen the charm of the story.  If anything, it made it more enjoyable as what it was – a wonderfully done bit of escapist (science) fiction.  You didn’t watch it to psycho-analyze the characters and consider the implications of their actions…you watched it to root for Luke and boo whenever Vader came on the screen.  To criticize ‘Huma’ for its simplicity would be to say that ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ was “derivative”.  OF COURSE it was…that was the point.  It was also a great film.

As for the story itself, having vented my frustrations over its outright dismissal, it begins with Huma encountering what would normally be, to him, a very dangerous enemy.  His reaction to the circumstances begin to define his character (Which is fairly one-dimensional, but so was Vader’s, and Skywalker’s) and the story unfolds from there.  No point in detailing everything that happens, that’s the charm of actually reading the book, since it was meant to be read for pleasure, not enlightenment.

If this is coffee-table literature, then it is coffee-table literature at its finest.  There are enough overly and intricately complex worlds out there created by authors desiring to be more and more obscure, as if obscurity and complexity equals quality.  They don’t.  Orwell’s great Novel ‘1984’ was EXTREMELY complex, and brilliant.  His Fairy Story ‘Animal Farm’ was EXTREMELY simplistic, and brilliant.  Take that, elitists.

Inspirational Quote: “Est Sularus oth Mithas”

Grade: A