Dungeons & Dragons & Novels: Revisiting Weasel’s Fortune

A mustachioed knight and a dagger-wielding boy creep through a knee-high swamp.

Larry Elmore original cover insert for Weasel’s Luck.
Image: Wizards of the coast

For the first book in Dragonlance Heroes series, The legend of Huma, the story of the greatest knight of Krynn was told and how he banished the dragon goddess Takhisis and saved the world. Now, in the third installment of the series, Michael Williams’ Weasel’s Luckwe have the story of… a little boy whose main concern is not to be murdered.

Weasel, real name Galen Pathwarden, is no hero, despite the series name. Also, there are no Dragonlances in the book. Hell, there aren’t even dragons. (There are some spears.) Instead, Galen is enlisted by an evil wizard called Scorpion to mess with a Solamnic knight named Bayard Brightblade, who also enlists Galen to be his squire. The book is mostly about Galen who is bad at both jobs and complains a lot.

Weasel’s Luck it is a very strange book. It’s not a bad book… I don’t think so. He’s often funny, with goofy one-liners that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Terry Pratchitt novel. But there’s no urgency anywhere in the book, even though the overarching plot for the most part is that Bayard must get to Castle of Caela to fight in a tournament, win Enid of Caela’s hand in marriage, and end the curse . gods of Caelas according to a prophecy Bayard found scrawled in the margins of a random tome.

Cover of the 2012 reissue.

Cover of the 2012 reissue.
Image: Wizards of the coast

You’d think the tournament clock ticking would give the story some momentum, but Weasel’s Luck cares much less than Bayard. My favorite example is a chapter where Bayard and Galen come across an orc guarding a narrow passage who refuses to let them pass. Bayard attempts to fight the ogre only to be destroyed in one blow. When Bayard tries again, he is knocked unconscious by days. The orc leaves for a while, but Bayard is too injured to move. When Bayard wakes up, he decides that the ogre probably only appears at night as he is weakened by sunlight. So Bayard has a 10 hour fight with this ogre, waiting for the sun to come up, which he ends up doing absolutely nothing. Eventually it is revealed that the ogre was controlled by the Scorpion, who tried to prevent Bayard from making it to the tournament on time. The villain is hugely successful at this.

What does Galen do during this epic, silly battle? Anything. Much of the book consists of Galen hiding when Bayard is in trouble, or cowering when Scorpion tries to get him to briefly assault the knight. It’s baffling that Bayard or Scorpio wants him around. Galen is a bad squire (I think he helps Bayard put on his armor once in the whole book and he’s bad at that) and I also don’t know why Scorpio asked for his help, because Scorpio is an immensely powerful sorcerer who can possess ogres, turn goats into satyrs, and transform into different people and animals. Galen is nothing but a huge responsibility, but in the end the wizard doesn’t even ask him anything: he just pops in to threaten the boy and reveal his evil plan.

Speaking of threatening the boy, the book has an ongoing subplot – well, it’s not a plot, if it were a plot, it would be advancing somewhere – about Galen’s older and dumber brother, Alfric, who legitimately wants to kill Galen and becomes very, very close in places. Alfric keeps showing up out of nowhere with no narrative purpose, only to have another person who doesn’t like the main character physically abuse him. It’s haphazard and unnecessary, but at some point there’s a dark humor to the repetition and relentlessness. I don’t know if this is intended, however.

Eventually, however, Galen manages to acquire some chivalrous scruples and courage—he helps Scorpio kidnap Enid, then one damsel becomes distressed—for a final fight that feels straight-forward, as if the book strained slightly against the rails. of a typical YA zero-to-hero adventure, only to admit he’s stuck in the rush for the last few chapters and gives up. But, inexplicably, Alfric is brought into the final fight, for no other reason than that there is still at least one incredibly cowardly and cowardly character around to add… levity? I believe? Like much of this novel, it’s stranger than anything else.

The more I write about it, the more reasons I find not to like it Weasel’s Luckyet, somehow it kept me more interested than some of the others Dungeons & Dragons novels I’ve re-read. That said, I’m not particularly keen on checking out the sequel, titled Galen becomes a knight. I think I’ve had my fill of Weasel, who rolls a 10. Not a particularly lucky number, but guess what? Along with no Hero or Dragonlance, Weasel he doesn’t even have any luck.

Image for the article titled Dungeons & Dragons & Novels: Revisiting Weasel's Fortune

Image: Wizards of the coast

Assorted reflections:

  • As one would expect from a wizard called the Scorpion, he often takes the form of… a raven.
  • There is a joke(?) at the beginning of the book that Galen and Alfric share one thing in common, and that is that they both love to set their trembling guardian on fire. I have no idea what’s going on there.
  • Galen’s father also wants to kill Galen and Alfric on multiple occasions. So weird.
  • Next: when I read Dragonlance Heroes: Legend of Huma lo those many moons ago, I followed it up with the refreshingly silly sequel of Blue Bonds, The spur of the wyvern. So it seems fair to me to trade Weasels for Dragonbaits concluding the trilogy with Song of the Saurials.

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