The Novels of My Youth: Richard A Knaak

Years ago when I was just beginning to discover this new world of books that had opened up to me, a pair of trilogies were thrust upon me by my friends. They were branded with the words Dragonlance which I was beginning to put together was a Dungeons and Dragons world. Years later I wonder what made them think that I needed to read these particular books. I’d only just learned how to play D&D. And while I could certainly understand the idea of a shared world from my few years (at that point) reading comic books, I’m not sure why they thought these were the way to through me in the deep end. Of course, they were right. Those six books basically made it so that any extra money I had (that wasn’t going to comics) ended up in one of the various D&D books. And like everything, when you were dealing with the sheer numbers of books I was reading, you’d get some good ones and some clunkers.

One of the things about TSR (the makers of D&D at the time) was that with Dragonlance, you had the original creators writing the initial series, but also expanded the history of the world. They invited other authors to write about those legendary characters in their own series.

The Legend of Huma, but Richard A Knaak, was one of the first Dragonlance books I read that wasn’t by the original authors. And I wasn’t sure what to expect as I flipped through the pages. Sometimes the problem with the legends is that they are merely there to teach the main characters a lesson of some sort. That tidbit is interesting, but a whole book on the character might be pushing it.

Luckily that wasn’t the case with The Legend of Huma. Knaak managed to not only bring the main character to life but wove a story around it introducing readers to Kaz the Minotaur. Someone that by the end of the story was as big a character as anyone might have been. Being able to bring that well-roundedness to what was a “monster” – and typically would have just been something Huma should have killed right out. I think it taught me that if you infuse your characters with personalities and hopes and dreams that they would become full-fledged characters for the reader.

The initial book was followed up by a sequel focusing on Kaz (titled Kaz the Minotaur). Which, in my mind, put the character into that pantheon of all-time Dragonlance characters.

Knaak would follow these up with more books about the Minotaurs of Dragonlance, effectively becoming the go-to guy when it came to their culture and customs. I also love the idea that a writer in one of these worlds can basically make themselves the expert of a whole race of creatures. So many times, you can get lost in the shuffle because so many books are coming out at a time, but Knaak not only found his niche but made it his own.

I have books that I want to reread (which run into my list of still haven’t read and the list of dying to read). Whether or not I am able to really make the time, I know those initial two Dragonlance stories would be at the top of the list with Huma and Kaz read immediately afterward.

Currently, there is a Kickstarter running which focuses on Knaak’s newest world of novels (which I am eager to jump in and read!) and bringing it into the roleplaying side of things. You can find information about it here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

About John McGuire

Writer of comics and novels. In 2006 his first short story "The God That Failed" was published by Terminus Media in their debut comic Evolution Book 1. Since that time he has had stories published in Terminus Media's Evolution Book 2 and Evolution Special, Kenzer and Company's The Knights of the Dinner Table, and Four J Publishing's The Burner #3. Currently he is eagerly awaiting the digital publishing of his first creator-owned comic The Gilded Age #1 to be published online as well as his first novel The Dark That Follows later this year.
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