This is continuing to be a rewarding re-read. 'Dragons of Autumn Twilight' was a by-the-numbers D&D campaign by an author team who were still developing their collaboration skills. 'Winter Night' is where the writer's can pull away from the events as dictated by the published adventures and break new storytelling ground.
I still have to say, because I'm a jerk, that the writing is still at times awkward and characters are dependent on their archetype for many traits. However, the writing is still effective, and the the trilogy is packed with detail about the world of Krynn and it feels like just about every named character and historical event in this trilogy ends up getting a novel(s) down the line, or at least a short story in an anthology. The annotations make up for their repetitive nature by pointing out these numerous connections in the stupendously large Dragonlance canon.
The scope of this novel is also much bigger, gaps of time are acknowledged - that end up getting covered in various midquel novels of course - and epic Adventures are referenced that the character's participated in but Will Not Be Appearing in This Novel. Its a great move on the author's part, they get to stick with the story they want to tell now, and without getting the reader over-involved and distracted by side-quests, they get the added development of the characters and their relationship with each other.
'Winter Night' uses that exposition and fast-forward to get to two scenes that have an enormous impact on the last novel and the 150-odd books that follow. For me they were the nightmare expedition into Silvanesti where our heroes confront their fears, weaknesses, and death along with some prophetic foreshadowing. This scene gets referenced so many times I'm tempted to go back and read it again. The second scene involves the death of a lead character, which in the 1980s was still a big deal. It didn't have the same effect on me now, but I still remember how it felt when reading it for the first time at 13.
These books may not stand up to the literary and faux literary giants of modern fantasy, but there is something special about this series and the passionate following it developed that can't be denied.
Next: 'Dragons of Spring Dawning'
Previous: 'Dragons of Autumn Twilight'