In 1991 Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman changed my life. I was in the midst of a deep depression that began in 1989 when my mother died of AIDS in a hospice hundreds of miles away.
I lived in a fantasy of pain, daydreaming about my mother and reliving every moment I could remember with her. I walked around in a trance, living in the days when she used to sing “Little Bunny Foo Foo” to me before bed, before alcohol, drugs, and disease took her away from me.
I had always loved fantasy movies, but I didnt even know books could be written by anyone other than Stephen King. When a friend loaned me Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I almost laughed. “Of Autumn Twilight? Kind of a lame name… and written by two girls?” (Forgive me, I was only 13. I would later learn that “Tracy” was a man – blew my little 13 year old misogynistic mind.)
I read it when I got home. I skipped dinner to keep reading – citing illness. I skipped sleeping most of the night with a flashlight under the covers and making constant trips to the bathroom to splash water on my face. Since I wasnt really sick, I went to school and read DoAT during my classes. I went to detention, (I always went to detention) finished the book there, and then walked straight out of detention with the teacher yelling behind me. I went downstairs to the library, and found the fantasy section. The glorious, glorious fantasy section – my escape from a reality of misery.
For the first time in 2 years, I felt something other than pain and loss. Tasslehoff made me laugh, Raistlin made me wonder, Caramon fought away my demons with his heroism, and the list goes on…
I found new people (characters) to love, and a drug that no test could detect but would stay in my veins for life. Without THAT book, my life could have gone in a very different direction. Even when I ran from home repeatedly, I stayed in shelters and read more fantasy. I lived in the woods – and still I had this book. It went everywhere with me and I must have read it 20 times… It kept me out of real danger, and kept me sane. (Well, maybe not ENTIRELY sane.)
Looking back now and rereading the Dragonlance Chronicles (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Winter Night, and Spring Dawning), this one is definitely the roughest read. It starts off a little slow and shaky, but getting 5 main characters at the same table and the story started was no small task for a Book 1.
Its a 4 star book that will always have a 5 star place on my shelf. I love the story, the characters, and the fact that it may have saved my life.