Vikings and dragons: Why Bones works as fantasy

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the best-selling fantasy authors and creators of Dragonlance, have teamed up once again for an all-new epic fantasy series, the Dragonships of Vindras, which begins with Bones of the Dragon.

Weis and Hickman wanted to create a new series that was unlike anything they've done in the past. "Tracy was interested in doing an Odyssey story, and it came to us that a quest story that was also an Odyssey story would be exciting and fun to write," Weis said in an interview. "The fact that the Vikings built their ships with dragon prows gave us the idea for the dragonships, and using a race based on the Vikings seemed to fit in perfectly."

In the novel, the old gods have grown complacent and weak; they have essentially failed their own creation. "Now other sets of deity we call 'itinerant gods,' who have previously also failed, see taking over this creation as their chance to redeem themselves," Hickman said. "Now there is war between these sets of competing gods, and the mortals of the world are caught up in this struggle. The result is a seagoing odyssey that takes us beyond the horizon to lands new and wondrous."

Weis and Hickman approach building new fantasy worlds with the mindset that they must, first and foremost, be believable. "We all want and expect dragons, monsters and magic in our fantastic fiction, but those same creatures and powers that make fantasy also have to make sense to us on some level," said Hickman, who does all the world-building for the collaborative novels. "Even the most fantastic fantasy must be believable on some level, or we do not wish to go there; as a reader we cannot suspend our disbelief for an illogical and unmotivated world. This is why we take such care in the creation of the setting for our characters in our novels."

The pair are starting work on the second book in the series, but first, in August, another new book is forthcoming, one that fans have been waiting 25 years for: Weis and Hickman's final novel in the Dragonlance saga. The book, titled The Lost Chronicles, relates the story of the wizard Raistlin when he takes the Black Robes and travels to Neraka to work for the Queen of Darkness.