|Riverwind the Plainsman|
313 pp (paperback edition)
ISBN 0-88038-909-5 (paperback edition)
Dragonlance: Preludes II
Riverwind the Plainsman is a fantasy novel by Paul B. Thompson and Tonya R. Carter which is set in the world of the Dragonlance campaign setting and is the first volume in the Preludes II series, and the fourth volume in the overall Preludes series.
Riverwind the Plainsman begins in the village of Que Shu shortly before the southern invasion of the War of the Lance. Riverwind the Plainsman is slightly different than the rest of the Preludes series, in that Riverwind was unknown to the other companions at this time. However, Riverwind's blue crystal staff was one of the focal points of the original Chronicles series. This is the story of how that staff came into his possession.
The story starts with Riverwind undergoing tests of strength and courage in order to be allowed to be betrothed to Goldmoon, the princess of the Que Shu tribe. Goldmoon's father Arrowthorn, along with many other villagers, sees this as an unpopular match. Riverwind is from an outcast family not even permitted to live within the city walls. Their crime was believing in the true gods instead of recognizing the chief as a god, and Goldmoon as a goddess. Riverwind passes his tests, and so Arrowthorn gives Riverwind a quest. Arrowthorn instructs Riverwind to leave Que Shu with only a day's supply of food and water and search for proof of the true gods; only upon proof will Arrowthorn allow the betrothal.
Upon leaving the village, Riverwind is joined by another tribal outcast: Catchflea. Old and slightly crazed, Catchflea is a self-proclaimed seer, who tries to divine the future in reading acorns shaken out of a gourd. Riverwind and Catchflea are not gone long before they find themselves unwilling participants in a civil war. Accidentally falling down a magical shaft while chasing a theif, they discover a new race of subterranean elves, who were originally Silvanesti elves, but fled Silvanesti during the Kinslayer Wars. These elves had, over 2,000 years ago, founded their underground city of Vartoom which operated under a caste system comprised mostly of a warrior class, a smithing class, and a slave class. Riverwind and Catchflea are befriended by Di An, a female elven slave. They are taken prisoner and taken to the queen of Vartoom, Li El--a cruel and idealistic elven wizardress. Eventually, Riverwind and Catchflea learn of an impending war between Li El and her former lover, General Mors. Mors recognizes Li El's evil and cruelty for what they are, and leads an invasion against her. A spellbound Riverwind fights in the ranks of Li El, while Catchflea teaches the slave class the lost art of archery and the use of pepper as a sort of biological agent. Mors is victorious, Riverwind is released from the spell, and Vartoom is liberated, but Mors wants Catchflea to remain in Vartoom as an ambassador and consultant. Riverwind and Catchflea are forced to escape Vartoom with the help of Di An, who by this time is in love with Riverwind. For miles, they trek secret tunnels until they come upon the sunken city of Xak Tsaroth, which is by now swarming with goblins and Draconians.
In Xak Tsaroth, the three meet a dark cleric named Krago, who is in Xak Tsaroth under orders from the Queen of Darkness to continue creating more Draconian warriors. It is here that Riverwind is given the blue crystal staff of Mishakal by the goddess herself. It is also here, in the above-ground section of the city, where Riverwind sees Di An succumb to a sort of agoraphobia. Her many years living underground had given her a strong and powerful fear of open spaces, fearing that she would fall off the earth and into the clouds. While escaping the city, Catchflea is shot by an enemy arrow and dies. Lastly, it is in Xak Tsaroth where Riverwind encounters Khisanth, the black dragon who guards the city and helps to oversee the creation of the Draconians.
Upon their escape from Xak Tsaroth, Riverwind and Di An entered the swamps. Riverwind became afflicted with swamp fever and Di An was still suffering the effects of being above ground. Mishakal gave Riverwind a choice. He could either use the staff to heal Di An, or use the staff to heal himself. Ultimately, Riverwind decided to use the staff to heal Di An, and she vanishes with the staff. Now without his proof of the true gods, Riverwind set off for Que Shu to admit defeat, while Di An was transported back to Vartoom with the staff, where she brings proof of the true gods to the underground elves. While journeying back to Que Shu, the staff materializes in front of Riverwind. Now with his quest complete, Riverwind continued to the village and, still delirious from the fever, collapses at Goldmoon's feet. The story ends with the staff being taken to Arrowthorn, who will decide if it is sufficient proof. The authors do not tell us the outcome.
Main Characters in "Riverwind the Plainsman"
- Riverwind, son of Wanderer - A barbarian from the plains, and future War of the Lance hero
- Catchflea - An elderly tribesman whose original name was Catchstar. Catchflea was a nickname given to him by the children of the tribe, and it stuck. He is a seer and also a seeker of the old gods.
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