For the first book in Dragonlance Heroes series, The Legend of Huma, the story of the greatest knight in Krynn was told and how he banished the dragon goddess Takhisis and saved the world. Now, in the third part of the series, Michael Williams’ Weasel’s happinesswe have the story of… a child whose primary concern is not to be murdered.
Weasel, whose real name is Galen Pathwarden, is not a hero despite the show’s name. Also, there are no Dragonlances in the book. Hell, there aren’t even any dragons. (There are a couple of lances.) Instead, Galen is summoned by an evil sorcerer called the Scorpion to mess with a Solamnic knight named Bayard Brightblade, who also summons Galen to be his squire. The book is primarily about Galen being very bad at both jobs and complaining a lot.
Weasel’s happiness is a very strange book. It’s not a bad book… I don’t think so. It’s often funny, with blunt one-liners that wouldn’t feel out of place in one Terry Pratchitt novel. But there’s no rush to any part of the book, even though the overarching plot for most of it is for Bayard to go to Castle di Caela to fight in a tournament, win Enid di Caela’s hand in marriage, and end the curse. of di Caelas according to a prophecy that Bayard found scrawled in the margin of a random tome.
You’d think the tournament’s ticking clock would give the plot some momentum, but Weasel’s happiness cares far less than Bayard does. My favorite example is a chapter where Bayard and Galen run into a troll guarding a narrow pass who refuses to let them through. Bayard tries to fight the troll only to be smashed with a single blow. When Bayard tries again, he is knocked unconscious days. The troll leaves for a while, but Bayard is too injured to be moved. When Bayard wakes up, he decides that the troll probably only appears at night, since it is weakened by sunlight. So Bayard has a 10-hour battle with this troll and waits for the sun to rise, which ends up absolutely nothing. It is eventually revealed that the troll was controlled by Scorpion, who has been trying to prevent Bayard from arriving at the tournament on time. The villain is wildly successful at this.
What is Galen doing during this epic, stupid battle? Nothing. Much of the book consists of Galen hiding when Bayard is in trouble, or cowering when the scorpion tries to get him to put the knight down. It’s confusing that either Bayard or Scorpion want him around. Galen is a terrible squire (I think he helps Bayard take his armor once in the whole book and is bad at it) and I also don’t know why the scorpion has his help, because the scorpion is a monster powerful sorcerer who can possess ogres, turn goats into satyrs, and transform into various people and animals. Galen is nothing but a huge liability, but in the end the wizard doesn’t even ask anything of him – he just comes by to threaten the boy and reveal his evil plan.
Speaking of threatening the boy, the book has an ongoing subplot – well, it’s not a plot, if it was a plot it would go somewhere – about Galen’s older, dumber brother Alfric, who legitimately wants to murder Galen and gets very, very close at some points. Alfric keeps showing up out of nowhere for no narrative purpose, just to have yet another person dislike the main character and physically abuse him. It’s random and unnecessary, but at a certain point there’s a dark humor to the repetition and relentlessness. I don’t know if that’s the point though.
In the end, though, Galen manages to acquire a little bit of chivalrous scruples and bravery—it helps that the Scorpion kidnaps Enid, leaving a damsel in distress—for a final battle that feels straightforward, as if the book has been mildly strained against the rails of a typical zero-to-total YA adventure, only to admit it’s locked in the ride in the last few chapters and gives up. But inexplicably, Alfric is taken to the final battle, for no other reason than there’s still at least one incredibly ravenous, cowardly character to add… frivolity? I think? It is, like so much in this novel, more strange than anything else.
The more I write this, the more reasons I find to dislike Weasel’s happinessand yet somehow it kept me more interested than some of the others Dungeons & Dragons novels I have reread. That said, I’m not particularly excited to check out the sequel, titled Crazy Beknighted. I think I’ve had my fill of Weasel hitting a 10. It’s not a very lucky number, but guess what? No heroes or dragon lances, Weasel not really having any luck either.
- As you would expect from a wizard named Scorpio, he most often takes the form of…a raven.
- There’s a joke(?) early in the book that Galen and Alfric share one thing in common, and that’s that they both love to set their crooked tutor on fire. I have no idea what is going on there.
- Galen’s father also wants to murder Galen and Alfric on several occasions. So strange.
- Next up: When I read Dragonlance Heroes: The Legend of Huma lo and behold, many moons ago, I followed it up with the enjoyably silly sequel to Azure bonds, Wyvern’s Spur. So it only seems right that I trade Weasels for Dragonbaits by ending the trilogy with Song of Saurials.
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