If you are new to the Dragonlance series, the sheer number of novels that have been published is overwhelming. One of the questions we get at the Nexus most often asks what order should someone read the Dragonlance novels. I’ve revised my reading list to help you make sense of it all.
The Time Periods
These are the publication eras of Dragonlance fiction:
When Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman began writing Dragonlance novels in 1984, they wrote their first series, Chronicles, during the time of the War of the Lance. Despite the fact that the setting has evolved significantly since the first novels were published, the War of the Lance time period is where the setting has its roots.
The Historical designation is for novels that flesh out the backstory of Dragonlance. The Classic time period takes place 9,300 years after the beginning of recorded history, and the Historical period includes any novels that take place prior to 350 AC (roughly the start of the War of the Lance).
In the 1990s, the Dragonlance saga moved from the Fourth Age of the world into the Fifth Age of the world, due to some major events that occurred in the storyline, specifically in a novel titled Dragons of Summer Flame, which is set in 383 AC. This novel is the final entry in the Classic era. Novels that occur after 383 AC are part of the Fifth Age period, beginning with the first series in the new period, titled the Dragons of a New Age trilogy.
The Fifth Age continued until 421 AC, when the events recounted in the War of Souls trilogy drastically changed the course of history once again. At the conclusion of the War of Souls trilogy, the world entered a new age, the Age of Mortals. The Age of Mortals period represents the ‘current’ time period in Dragonlance writing, and the vast majority of novels going forward will be set in this time period and will move the setting forward from here.
The gaming designation applies to products that are not novels at all, but are gaming books designed to allow players and a Dungeon Master to run a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game in the Dragonlance setting. The same organizational principles apply; however, it should be noted that in this case ‘core’ books represent the D&D 3.5 edition rules and supplements and the ‘supplemental’ materials are older, unused rule sets.
With the discussion of the list organization and time periods out of the way, here are my recommendations on reading order. The short version is to read the core novels from each time period and then branch out into the various supplemental novels. I would read the Classic core novels first, followed by the Fifth Age core novels, and then the Age of Mortals core novels, and finally the Historical core books.
For the record, I don’t recommend that you read the novels in chronological order—or, at the very least, that you do not try to read the novels in chronological order until you have completed the Chronicles, and possibly the Legends series as well. In addition to making the assumption that you know about some of the concepts introduced in Chronicles, some of the novels that are “first” in the chronological order will inevitably spoil the events that happen in Chronicles and in other novels that occur further into the future of the timeline. While the same is true about Chronicles (it hints at events in history that are explained in other books), these “previous” books are written with that in mind, so it would be my strong recommendation you read Chronicles first.
The best way to get started is to begin with the Chronicles series, comprised of three books: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning. This is the first set of books written about the Dragonlance world, and will give you the foundation for everything else. Chronicles introduces you to the major gods, important characters, and important events and organizations that other books assume you already know about.
Once you’ve finished the first three books, read the Legends trilogy. In addition to being the second series published, this series explores the relationship between Raistlin and Caramon, and also introduces the reader to more detail about the Cataclysm and the events immediately before and after it. Like the Chronicles, other books assume that you know what happened in the Legends series, so I would recommend that you read Time of the Twins, War of the Twins, and Test of the Twins next.
With what long-time fans consider to be the ‘holy six’ out of the way, you can begin reading other novels.
Next, you should read the Lost Chronicles series. Despite the fact that Lost Chronicles series fills in the gaps between novels in the Chronicles series, Weis & Hickman have gone on record as saying that they should be read after the reader has completed both Chronicles and Legends. Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, Dragons of the Highlord Skies, and Dragons of the Hourglass Mage are the novels in this series.
As noted at the beginning of this article, I recommend you read the Classic core novels first, so I would finish that group by reading The Second Generation and Dragons of Summer Flame, and then reading the core Fifth Age books: the Dragons of a New Age trilogy and The Dhamon Saga trilogy.
Next, I would recommend the Age of Mortals core books: the seminal War of Souls trilogy and the Dark Disciple trilogy. Once you’ve gotten this far, I would recommend one of two things. The first would be to read the Age of Mortals supplemental novels to get completely current with the setting, or to go back and read the Historical core novels: the Heroes series and the Kingpriest Trilogy.
Once you’ve read all of these core series, there really isn’t a reading order—it is whatever you find yourself most interested in. My personal favorites include the following trilogies (in addition to all the core books, which I would highly recommend), in no particular order: the Raistlin Chronicles, Tales, Elven Nations, Dwarven Nations, Kang’s Regiment, and the Defenders of Magic.
I hope that helps with any questions about what order someone new to the series should read the novels. If you have any feedback, please feel free to contact me and let me know.