I finished a really great book last night as I stood in line at Target (we only buy one thing on black friday; pillows. it's been the only tradition me and my better half have stuck to for our entire relationship. there's no rhyme or reason as to why we buy pillows on black friday, but we always do.) This is a book that I once picked up in fifth grade, but I was still stuck on Goosebumps, and thus I never got terribly into it.
It is called Dragons Of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman. The first in an incredibly long series (The Dragonlance Series), it begins the adventures of a group of fantasy warriors as they face seemingly insurmountable odds on a quest to rid the world of the evil Draconian army.
This is high fantasy at its best, you guys. The main character, and arguably the hero, of the story is Tanis Half-Elven, a (quelle surprise) half-elf ranger (which is a race and class that I am intimately familiar with, having played one for, oh, 20 years. Trivia that is only interesting to me; Tanis' elven name is "Tanthalas". My half-elfs elven name is "Ralanthalas") Tanis leads a group comprised of Raistlin and Caramon, twin brothers, respectively a mysterious and morbid sorceror, and a stout and trustworthy fighter, Tasslehof, a halfling thief, Sturm, a noble knight from an old order, Flint, a dwarven warrior, as well as two members of a dead barbarian tribe, Riverwind the fighter, and Goldmoon, the cleric. Just the list of primary antagonists is more fantasy than most people I know can handle. At this point, we haven't even gotten to the dragons yet.
I couldn't put this book down. I absolutely loved the characters, even the bad guys are interesting, with depth and motivation. Nobody is underdeveloped (except for one character, introduced in the last few pages, who I'm assuming will go on to play a fairly large role in at least one of the 200+ books that exist in the same shared universe. The action is intense, and even when there are eight people fighting against another ten foes, it never gets bogged down..everything is cohesive, and flows.
And there are also dragons in it. Intelligent dragons, who speak, and plot, and scheme. My favorite kind of dragon.
Needless to say, if you are a fantasy reader, and for some reason you haven't gotten to Dragonlance yet (like myself), make it a point to read this book. It's delightful from beginning to end. I'm already eagerly devouring the second book in the trilogy.