After the end of the Chaos War, the Gods presumably left the world of Krynn, along with Chaos, to maintain the balance. Their departure leaves the world bereft of clerical abilities, as well as High Sorcery. This was told by Fizban to be the start of the "Age of Mortals".
In the time after this, Goldmoon discovers the ability to heal once again, in the form of Mysticism. Palin Majere discovers the power of wild magic, the raw, untamed magic of Krynn. The world progresses on the timeline of the "Age of Mortals", but the fragile peace that had been obtained after the end of the Chaos War would soon come to a horrifying end.
Dragon Overlords and the Dragon Purge
Alien dragons, who were much larger, malevolent, and powerful than any of the native Krynn dragons came to this world, and claimed much of the continent of Ansalon. Malystryx (Malys), Beryllinthranox (Beryl), Gelldius (Frost), Onysablet (Sable), and Kitiara's former mount, Khellendros (Skie). Each one took a portion of the world as their domain, and began to purge the native dragons. Many were killed, but some swore to serve the Overlords, and their lives were spared. During this time, all of the metallic dragons, save one, disappeared from Krynn completely.
Disbanding of the Wizards' Conclave
After the departure of the gods from Krynn, the magic granted to mages by the three moons disappeared as well. The power of godly magic disappeared practically overnight. Powerless, the Wizards of High Sorcery decided to disband the Conclave.
Discovery of Wild Magic (Sorcery) and Mysticism
The inherent magical power of the world of Krynn gave birth to what came to replace High Sorcery, and Clerical Healing. These powers came to be known as Wild Magic, and Mysticism. Wild magic operates much differently than high sorcery, as the power is drawn from the world around the mage. This power was discovered by Palin Majere, who founded an Academy of Sorcery to teach young (and old) mages how to make use of it.
Mysticism was discovered by Goldmoon. The former cleric of Mishakal had travelled to the coast of Schallsea, and established the Citadel of Light there, to instruct and teach healers how to use the power of mysticism to heal wounds, and cure diseases. However, this power could not restore the dead to life. The Citadel was watched over and protected by the one silver dragon that had remained in the world, Miranthus (Mirror).
The start of the War of Souls
Although sorcery, discovered by Palin Majere, was adopted, it is slowly fading for reasons unknown. Everyone, including the Dragon Overlords, experience the effect. The Knights of Takhisis, with the loss of their Queen, became the Knights of Neraka, a somewhat less honorable outfit than their predecessors, led by Lord of the Night Morham Targonne. Goldmoon, one of the few remaining Heroes of the Lance, has established the Citadel of Light on the island of Schallsea. In the elven realm of Qualinesti, Gilthas, the "puppet king", rules only in title, while the nation is truly run by the occupying Knights of Neraka. Their cousins, the Silvanesti, have banished their heir, Silvanoshei, his mother, and his father. With the gods gone, the time period, fittingly, is known as the "Age of Mortals" as said by Fizban in chapter 32 (title: Rain. Autumn. Farewell.) Dragons of Summer Flame.
The War of Souls begins in 421 AC, 38 years after the events of Dragons of Summer Flame. A small band of Knights of Neraka meet Mina, a mysterious woman who appeared during a freak storm. Through incredible feats, she convinces them to pledge themsleves to "the One God" and follow her to march on the besieged city of Sanction.
Over and over, Mina is able to convert her opponents and save the day. The city of Sanction is retaken by the Solamnic Knights, and the old gods return to the world. The elven nations, now under the reign of Gilthas, seek a new home. Paladine, now mortal, takes on the name Valthonis and joins with Gilthas' fate. Her new followers all return to their lives with a new outlook.
Mina, an agent of the One God/Takhisis, leads an army of Knights of Neraka, Captain Samuval's mercenary company, and a horde of the dead who are kept as ghosts by Takhisis. Although many Dark Knights join Mina's cause, a number of them distrust her and her faith-driven motives. Primary among these is Morham Targonne, late leader of the Knights of Neraka. Believing her claims of the One God to be nothing but tricks, he attempts to have her killed and is instead slain himself. In addition, Marshal Medan's force of Knights of Neraka defies Targonne's orders and defends Qualinost from Beryl's assault, dying in the process. The Knights of Solamnia are the primary opposition of Mina, although they are often defeated. Notable among them are Gerard uth Mondar, and Odila Windlass, a temporary cleric of the One God. The Knights eventually retake Sanction. The elves play a crucial part in the opposition of Mina. Gilthas Pathfinder, son of Tanis Half-Elven and Laurana Kanan, leads the Qualinesti elves and eventually their cousins, the Silvanesti. They play a large part in the downfall of Beryl, and liberate Sanction with the help of the metallic dragons. By the end of the book they have no land of their own, but become a single nation. Their tale is continued in the Elven Exiles trilogy.The evil Dragon Overlords, particularly Malys, Beryl, and Skie, work for self-serving interests throughout the War of Souls. All three are killed by the end of the book, although Beryl destroys the elven capital Qualinost upon her death.
(Note: Terms "good" and "evil" are used only in reference to the War of Souls, and not to the characters' nature or status)
Gerard uth Mondar: A serious and dour Solamnic Knight. Inducted into the Knighthood because of family tradition, Gerard's life is boring because his father, an influential man in the Knighthood, buys him a safe post against his wishes. He soon finds some action when a kender claiming to be Tasslehoff Burrfoot materializes in a tomb in Solace. Gerard is one of the main protagonists in the War of Souls.
Tasslehoff Burrfoot: One of the Heroes of the Lance, the irrepressible kender uses the Device of Time Journeying to arrive in the future to speak at Caramon Majere's funeral. He becomes entwined in the War of Souls as time advances, and he turns out to be the key to the very fate of the universe.
Goldmoon: A Hero of the Lance. Goldmoon was a benevolent cleric of Mishakal before the world was stolen, and founded the Citadel of Light and became a healer afterwards. Restored to youth, she follows the River of Souls for much of the trilogy. She is killed by Takhisis after denying her.
Lady Odila Windlass: A headstrong Solamnic Knight, she captures Gerard uth Mondar, believing him to be a Knight of Neraka. Mina shows her the true power of the One God, and that eventually drives her to become a paladin. The blind dragon Mirror soon shows her the truth, however, and she renounces the faith.
Mirror: A blind silver dragon and guardian of the Citadel of Light. He recognizes Mina, and realizes that Takhisis has control over her. He helps free his metallic dragon brethren, and destroys the dragon totems.
Gilthas Pathfinder: Son of Tanis Half-Elven and Laurana Kanan, Gilthas is crowned Speaker of the Sun and Stars by the end of the war, designating him ruler of the Qualinesti, Silvanesti, and Kagonesti elves. Appearing as a sickly, wan youth, Gilthas is actually a bold and wise leader, maintaining the pretense that the Knights of Neraka are in control. In fact, he secretly allies with the resistance led by his wife, Kerianseray.
Laurana Kanan: Hero of the Lance. Mother of Gilthas and Queen-Mother of the Qualinesti. A strong leader and full supporter of her son Gilthas in his resistance of the Dark Knights, Laurana is first encountered in Qualinost, where Palin Majere waited for Gerard and Tasslehoff. She remains behind to fight Beryl when she attacks Qualinost, and dies in the fight.
Marshal Alexius Medan: Leader of the Dark Knight occupation in Qualinost. Medan is a compassionate but logical man, and harbors none of the violence and malice that is prone to Knights of Neraka. This is probably because of the time he spent in Qualinost, among the elves. Despite his allegiance to the Dark Knights, he orchestrates the plan to kill Beryl and her army, with whom they have an alliance.
Alhana Starbreeze: Mother of Silvanoshei. A strong willed dark elf banished from Silvanesti. She leads the rebel elves in their attempts to enter Silvanesti lands. Maintains an undying love for her son, one that often clouds her judgement. She recommends that Gilthas leads both nations upon Silvanoshei's death.
Silvanoshei Caladon: Ruler of the Silvanesti by birthright. Spoiled and naive, the young king is magically transported inside the shield surrounding Silvanesti after his mother sends him to seek help. He assumes his proper position as Speaker of the Stars, but soon falls in love with Mina, who uses him. He kills Takhisis, but is slain by Mina in turn.
Palin Majere: Son of Caramon Majere, and nephew of Raistlin. Hero of the Chaos War, Palin was a powerful wizard before the leaving of the gods. Distraught, he found the ways of sorcery, but that soon fails him too. Although he is killed during the war, his spirit plays a crucial part in the downfall of Takhisis. Palin forsakes the gift of magic at the end of the war, realizing that it was not worth consuming his life'
Dalamar: Master of the Tower of High Sorcery at Palanthas, Dalamar the Dark was once the apprentice of Raistlin Majere. He turned to necromancy at the loss of true magic. He saves Palin and Tasslehoff from dying in the Citadel of Light, holding them captive in the Tower of High Sorcery, which he moved to Nightlund. He dies along with Palin, but betrays him at the possibility of being returned to life.
Mina: A mysterious girl, Mina appeared to Galdar and his troops during the mysterious storm. She captivates everyone she meets with her amber eyes and charm, and performs miracles in the name of "The One God". She is a brilliant and merciless commander, overthrowing Silvanesti, Solanthus, and breaking the siege at Sanction in the favor of the Dark Knights. With the death of Takhisis, Mina leaves for parts unknown. Her tale is followed in The Dark Disciple trilogy.
Galdar: A powerful minotaur of the Knights of Neraka, Galdar is the first to meet Mina. She restores his sword arm, producing his undying allegiance for Mina. Despite that, he is wary of the One God, especially once he learns her true identity. He remains with her until the end, and eventually follows her.
Malystryx: A massive Dragon Overlord, Mina earns her wrath after stealing her totem. She is eventually slain by Mina and Galdar, and, indirectly, Takhisis.
Beryllinthranox: Another Dragon Overlord. She claims the realm of Qualinesti, and attacks it as a result of Laurana and Gilthas defying her wishes. She is killed by Laurana, but destroys the entire city of Qualinost as well.
Khellendros (Skie): A blue Dragon Overlord, Skie is mortally wounded by Mina for defying Takhisis, and is finished off by Malys.
Morham Targonne: Lord of the Night of the Knights of Neraka. A weasel of a man, Targonne was a shrewd tactician and a telepath, which allowed him to advance to his lofty position. He manipulated the various sides to his advantage, but erred when he attempted to have Mina killed. He was killed by Mina in Silvanesti.
Captain Samuval: Leader of a mercenary company of archers. Samuval used to be a Knight of Neraka, and still offered his services to them. A dedicated follower of Mina, his archers played a key role in Mina's first victory at Sanction.
In his review of Dragons of a Vanished Moon, James of mania.com noted that "although never quite a fan of the DRAGONLANCE novels, the WAR OF SOULS trilogy seemed quite different from all the previous books". He noted that "Weis and Hickman's writing style has improved immensely since their beginning way back in '85" and considered the novel great for fans of fantasy fiction and a must for hardcore Dragonlance fans.
Similarly Josh Fink of fictionfactor.com review of Dragons of a Vanished Moon rated the final novel of the trilogy 5 stars and stated it was reminiscent of the original Dragonlance released 15 years prior. He commented that "The story is so well written, that it flows from the book into your mind in an endless flow of elven wine—a wine so smooth that you beg for more, and never place the book down, whenever you can help it."