Book Review: Soulforge - Margaret Weis (Brothers Majere I)



A mage's soul is forged in the crucible of magic. Raistlin Majere is six years old when he is introduced to the archmage who enrolls him in a school for the study of magic. There the gifted and talented but tormented boy comes to see magic as his salvation. Mages in the magical Tower of High Sorcery watch him in secret, for they see shadows darkening over Raistlin even as the same shadows lengthen over all Ansalon.Finally, Raistlin draws near his goal of becoming a wizard. But first he must take the dreadful Test in the Tower of High Sorcery. It will change his life forever -- if he survives.

The Review
Probably (well, for certain), the best book that I have ever read. I've read it more than 6 times and still I hunger for more. The story it's great and it develops fast. The main character Raistlin Majere, it's probably the best character ever invented in any fiction books. There are more than 16 books with him. I have read other books about him, and I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to know more. Some particularities that the main books didn't explain.
Well let me explain better...
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman three books which were in Dragonlance Chronicles:
Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning
There were many characters but the one that marked me and a legion of fans was a mage. An evil, selfish, mean, overly-ambitious human. So why would I like him?
Well for this and much more. We as read the books didn't knew why raistlin was that way, why did he hate his brother, why did he had an hourglass eyes and his hair totally white. We need to know more. And so Margaret Weis wrote Soulforge and Brother in arms (the second) that answer many questions...
But do you think that help? We still wanted more and more... but the authors will not write anymore, so we must endure our cruel lifes re-reading the 12 books that he enter...By order (If I forget some sorry)
He is only the main character in books nº 1,4,5,9,10,11
The rest of the books he is a member of a party.
This are per order the books :

1. Soulforge
2. Dark Heart (includes in timeline than the soulforge /in this book he is minor character))
3. The companions (includes in timeline than the soulforge / in this book he is minor character)
4. Brother in Arms
5. Brothers Majere
6. Dragons of Autumn Twilight
7. Dragons of Winter Night
8. Dragons of Spring Dawning
9. Time of Twins
10.War of Twins
11. Test of Twins
12. The Second Generation
13. Dragons of Summer Flame
14. Dragons of a Fallen Sun (in this book he is minor character)
15. Dragons of a Lost Star (in this book he is minor character)
16. Dragons of a Vanished Moon (in this book he is minor character)
There are also other short stories with him.

About him...

Raistlin comes from "wasting man" and Caramon (his brother) comes from "caring man." Their last name, Majere, is also the name of theKrynnish god Majere, who rules over knowledge.

How to Pronounce Raistlin: rāyst'-lin

Raistlin's Physical Description
Approx. 5'8" tall. Raistlin was always thin, with well-defined features that might have been attractive if he wasn't always snarling, smirking, etc. Long-fingered hands. Other features vary depending on timeframe:
Before the Test: Pale blue eyes, light brown hair (auburn), fair skin. Probably asthmatic.
After the Test: Golden eyes with hourglass-shaped pupils, white hair, golden skin.
Back in Time: Brown eyes (!), fair skin, light brown hair (auburn).

The eyes = Par-Salian's fault. Through his hourglass pupils Raistlin sees all things as they are affected by time.

Note:
The hourglass eyes were given to Raistlin after the test by the white-robed head of the Conclave at the time, Par-Salian. They cause all things to wither and die in Raistlin's vision; a sorceress called Raelanna was the first and only other known example to have that particular curse. Only the long-lived elves failed to wither in Raistlin's sight -- even as walls crumbled around him, he saw Laurana as beautiful.

The skin = Raistlin's innate magical response to a fireball thrown at him during the Test and a symbol of his "magical armor." Fistandantilus might have been involved here.

The hair = a result of stress, and a side-effect of dealing with the lich Fistandantilus.

The staff = The Staff of Magius, a tall wooden staff with a draconic claw gripping a crystal at the top. Very old and magical artifact, originally belonging to the wizard Magius (hence the name, obviously), who aided Huma; also a nifty flashlight: "shirak" to light, "dulak" or "dumak" to dim. It took Raistlin quite a while to figure out how to use the staff's powers, having few historical texts or journals to go by.

The cough = also a result of fighting with Fistandantilus. Raistlin's lungs were "shattered," leaving him with a cough something like consumption. He drank tea, a recipe given to him by Par-Salian, to soothe the cough.
Raistlin's personality
Raistlin is absolutely cynical and sarcastic. He takes joy from seeing others at fault—a clear representation of his superiority complex. However, due to his physical weakness, permanent tuberculosis (and Caramon's physical superiority, more sociable attitude) he represents a slight inferiority complex as well; which forges the core of his jealousy he feels for his twin brother in his early life—which later dissolves through his achivements.
Raistlin is extremely practical. He views those around him as pawns to be used, should it prove necessary to achieve his ends.
Raistlin is not compatible with collectivity, which ultimately labels him as selfish. His actions are for his benefit alone— and should they benefit others, it would be merely coincidental.In encounters with those that are inferior, being looked down upon, oppressed, Raistlin reveals a rather caring, and charitable side of him. His claim of this expresses that he can relate to their conditions, and he pities them also.

Raistlin does not apply the concept of loyalty. If his plan or goal doesn't appear to be through the salvation of others he simply chooses to walk his own way.

Raistlin bears a greed for power itself. This appears to be an outcome of his early life, yet, still the only thing that he seeks is power.

Raistlin covers his own weak self image with arrogance, always trying to prove that he is "better" than those around him. So twisted is his view of the world that rather than thank others for their contribution to a common goal, he instead insults the very qualities that allowed other people to help him in times of need. It is almost as if surviving and working together are less important than being seen (at least in his own mind) as intrinsically better than his companions.

(To explain the story of raistlin Majere to the interested I will copy the text that is written in Wikipedia)

Early Time (This his the time of Soulforge)
As a young boy, Raistlin was picked on for being thin and weak. He was a twin—his brother was the robust Caramon Majere—and also has a half-sister, Kitiara, with whom their friend Tanis Half-Elven (otherwise named Tanthalas) was in love.
Raistlin was for a time a street performer doing coin tricks and the like. At a very young age he was enrolled in the apprenticeship of older wizards by his half-sister. He excelled and was Tested at the Towers of High Sorcery in the form of a conflict with three dark elves, passing and becoming a mage or wizard. During the Test, and after it became evident he was going to fail it, he was contacted telepathically by the powerful dead archwizard Fistandantilus, who offered Raistlin access to his vast stores of magical power in exchange for some of Raistlin's life energy, so that his spirit could survive. Though the Test is carefully designed by the elder mages to be within the capabilities of the individual accepted for Testing to pass (if only just), Raistlin accepted Fistandantilus' offer anyway.
Already weak physically, after his Test his health was shattered almost completely due to the life energy he gave to Fistandantilus. Par-Salian, head of the Tower and the Conclave of wizards, gave Raistlin his hourglass-shaped pupils so that he may see time as it affects all things, in an attempt to teach him humility and compassion for others. Plants he looked at would wither and die before his eyes; mortals would grow old and decay in his sight. Their plan backfired, however, and Raistlin grew ever more bitter and angry because of this curse. His skin was also rendered a golden color as a result of a protection spell cast by Fistandantilus on him in his battle against the dark elves, leaving him even more socially outcast. But, with Fistandantilus' magical power at his disposal, he rapidly became by far the most powerful magic-user on Krynn, outstripping even elven mages centuries his elder.
Raistlin wields the Staff of Magius and the dagger of Magius, which belonged originally to Magius, a friend of Huma Dragonbane. After the Test, he bought the dagger and was gifted with the staff, as well as with the recipe for a foul-smelling herbal mixture to help alleviate his severe asthma.
Originally he wore Red Robes, symbolizing neutrality or the balance between good and evil, but as time and events wore on he swapped them for the Black Robes of evil.
The Kingdom of Ergoth enacted laws that Mages be allowed one bladed implement for their safety due to the unique ways of magic in the world of Krynn.


War of the Lance Involvement
It was not long after Raistlin passed his Test that the world was engulfed in the conflict that would be known as the War of the Lance.
During this time, Raistlin helped to fight the darkness threatening to consume all of Krynn. He and his companions played a critical role, and would collectively become known as the Heroes of the Lance. Raistlin's magic powers increased at a dramatic rate as the war progressed. He gained control of a potent artifact known as the Dragon Orb of Silvanesti which he took from the dying elven King Lorac Caladon.
More importantly, the full nature of the bargain he had made with Fistandantilus became apparent to him, and he used it to further prolong his life when he lay dying at the Great Library of Palanthas. He turned away from the Red Robes of Lunitari, donned the Black Robes of Nuitari, and pledged his loyalty to Takhisis, the goddess of evil.
Fistandantilus was able to petition the Dark Queen for a mysterious item known as the Key of Knowledge, which Raistlin was able to use to unlock a number of ancient tomes and gain vast power in the process. His ambition, however, was such that he betrayed the Dark Queen, ultimately bringing the War of the Lance to an end and leaving him as the most powerful force on Krynn.
He then took up residence in the Tower of High Sorcery of Palanthas, fulfilling an ancient prophecy that had foreseen his appearance as the Master of Past and Present. He spent two years inside the Tower, learning its secrets, studying spells and experimenting.


Attempt at Godhood
Although the Conclave had previously believed that Raistlin harboured plans to conquer the world, they later learned through Raistlin's apprentice, Dalamar, that Raistlin's ambition stretched much further than this.
Raistlin studied Fistandantilus' voluminous works on crossing the threshold between god and man, and decided to embark on an attempt to usurp Takhisis, the Queen of Darkness. Much of Fistandantilus' research had been lost in the ravages that Krynn had endured during and after the Cataclysm, and so Raistlin travelled backwards through time to the reign of the Kingpriest.
Once there, he confronted Fistandantilus and the two fought for supremacy. Raistlin won, stealing not only the archmage's identity and lifeforce, but also the vast knowledge that Fistandantilus had accumulated over the course of his one-thousand year lifespan.
In a desperate attempt to stop him, the Conclave sent Raistlin's twin brother Caramon back in time along with the cleric Crysania and the kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot (who "accidentally" found himself present during the time travel spell's casting). Raistlin, however, had beguiled Crysania, as he would require her abilities to succeed in his plans; he had anticipated that the Conclave's only option would be to send her back through time, and was thus able to use her, and them, to further his pursuits. Only a true cleric of Paladine working together with a mage of the Black Robes could open the great portal to the Abyss where Takhisis had been imprisoned, and in this way, the mages of old had hoped to forever prevent her from entering the world.
Escaping the Cataclysm, Raistlin travelled forward in time, where he initiated the Dwarfgate Wars (in the guise of Fistandantilus), in attempt to reach the magical fortress of Zhaman, where the Portal lay.
Caring nothing for the war itself or those around him, he relentlessly pursued his objective. He saw everyone merely as pawns to be used in the greater game he played with the Dark Queen. Everyone, including his brother, could be sacrificed if it furthered his gain. Unlike Fistandantilus, Raistlin was able to overcome (using the combined knowledge of both himself and Fistandantilus), the devastating magical fluctuations that were caused when Caramon activated a time travel device whilst the great portal was being opened.
The result of the powerful collision of magical forces was a spectacular explosion that ended the Dwarfgate War, destroyed Zhaman and catapulted Caramon and Tasslehoff into the future. Raistlin, however, survived and entered the Abyss with Crysania. There he began to face his greatest challenge, a battle with the Dark Queen herself.
Leaving Crysania dying as a result of the injuries that had been incurred by protecting Raistlin from the Dark Queen's assaults, he confronted and defeated her legions of minions. He then retreated to the portal, hoping to draw the Dark Queen back into the mortal realm, where he reasoned he would be the stronger of the two.
After crossing back into the world of Krynn, Raistlin subsequently succeeded in his defeat of the Queen. An hourglass-like constellation apeared in the sky, in place of the constellation of the Queen of Darkness. Caramon travelled into the future and witnessed the end result of Raistlin's bid for godhood: the battle between Raistlin, the gods and Takhisis had destroyed nearly everything upon Krynn, leaving Raistlin a world which he ruled alone, a world populated by death, decay and shattered lands; a world where he was doomed to dwindle into nothingness.
In order to prevent the world from being destroyed, Caramon used the device of time journeying to travel back in time and confront Raistlin before he could succeed in his battle with the Dark Queen. According to Caramon, Raistlin then realized the folly of his actions and sacrificed his life to stop the Dark Queen from entering the world. By remaining in the Abyss, Raistlin allowed his brother the time he needed to return to Krynn and close the portal, thus preventing the Dark Queen from following.
Caramon suffered grief as a result of his twin's fate, and later, as he was preparing to take his own life, had a vision of Raistlin's spirit being rescued and given peace by Paladine. This version of events was retold throughout Krynn, and Raistlin became a popular hero for his self-sacrifice.
According to legend, although Raistlin's doomed attempt for Godhood perhaps indicated the flawed nature of his personality, it was his final sacrifice that in many ways redeemed him. For all of his accomplishments, both intellectual and material, it was his victory over the darker side of his own nature that was perhaps his greatest achievement.



Raistlin's Return

In the later short story The Legacy, Caramon's son Palin is summoned for his Test, winding up at the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas. Dalamar conjures what he believes to be an illusion of Raistlin as part of the Test of Palin, but his spell inadvertently allows Raistlin's actual spirit access to the prime material plane (though he does not realize this himself until well after the Test has concluded.) Dalamar magically sealed Raistlin's laboratory at the top of the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas, so that no mortal could ever again enter and discover Fistandantilus' and Raistlin's research on how to become a god.
Raistlin returned again, a year later, during the Chaos War. He was instrumental in the defeat of Chaos, even though the gods had stripped him of his power as the price for his hubris.
Raistlin's spirit also assisted the gods to find Krynn at the conclusion of the War of Souls. Then, with his brother Caramon and the Heroes of the Lance, Raistlin finally joined the River of Souls, and disappeared for the final time.

In the end why do I and other people love Raistlin? That is an Hard Question :
Raistlin acts as a mirror. More than the images of his co-stars are reflected in those hourglass eyes. When we read about Raistlin, it's as if we're following the adventures of our own dark sides. In Raistlin, we see a little bit of ourselves. Maybe we didn't have tortured childhoods; certainly all of us don't share his personality traits. But still, in his struggles to be, ultimately, accepted, perhaps we find our own longings for love; in his bittersweet triumph, we find ourselves confronted with our own wishes for the power we may never find. Justarius summed this up best when he said, "We've all been laughed at one time in our lives. We've all been jealous of someone. We have felt pain and suffered, just as he has suffered. And we've all longed - just once - for the power to crush our enemies. We pity him. We hate him. We fear him - all because there is a little of him in each of us, though we admit it to ourselves only in the darkest part of the night."
But the reason I, personally love him is 'cause like him I have ashma as sick as him.. I've spent so many hours in doctors, and received air that I can't remember. When I was 19/20 I was in an hospital more than twelve times, each one one week. So, yes I know how he feels... I know how he is that way.. That's why I love him. That's why I am like him.
The best phrase that I summarized him and me is "Hope is the denial of Reality"!
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