It has probably been twenty years since I last read The Death Gate Cycle, a seven book series written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I recently reread the series and here my quick impressions and past remembrances about each book. This is less of a review of the series (which as a whole is good and worth a read) and more just my musings of each book, ala Harry Potter Movie Marathon Highlights.
The Air World. Definitely the book I remembered the most about, although that isn’t saying much for everything I forgot. The world building is great and the mystery around the Sartans and the Patryns really kept me going. In hindsight, the renaming of dwarves to dregs was pointless, as all the other books refer to them as dwarves, and even when they come back to this planet, they have started calling themselves dwarves.
Fire World (I always thought of it as the Evergreen World, because the constant daylight makes all vegetation grow to extremes). I had totally forgotten about the five main characters of the book, the two humans, the two elves, and the dwarf. I found the addition of Zifnab to be obnoxious. His constant references to other books and past Earth events was really jarring to me. And his omnipotence is never fully explained. I found myself wanting to just follow Haplo and his dog and wasn’t too interested in the other characters.
World of Stone. I was actually confused at the end of book 1, because Haplo says he is going to the Fire World next, and I associate this underground land of lava as the Fire World, but alas it is not. I had a completely different memory of Baltazar. These characters are at least interesting and can stand without the aid of the main characters.
The Waterworld. This book stands out in my mind as the disillusionment of the Sartans. Held up as the protectors of the weak and the keepers of the mensch (dwarves, elves, and humans). You now learn that they are primarily motivated by their own self importance and fear. Samah becomes the great villain, even more so than the Dragon Snakes that terrorize everyone.
The Hand of Chaos:
Otherwise known as the book that tries to fill in all the gaps and tie everything together. I’m pretty sure the Lord of the Nexus didn’t have a name before this book, but now suddenly he does. Rune magic was just a more powerful kind of magic than what the mensch could do, except now suddenly humans CAN do rune magic if they know how to pronounce it correctly? Rune magic gets explained as an examination of probabilities and choosing the one that fits you best. It doesn’t seem to jive with all the examples of rune magic previously and I don’t understand it. It doesn’t seem to fit with the written rune magic either. Zifnab makes a return, but is fortunately given a much more distant role. Also I basically remembered nothing from this book.
Into the Labyrinth:
Certainly the most interesting of the worlds, if for no other reason than the Labyrinth took on a life of its own with the sole purpose of killing all the inhabitants. For five books we’ve heard stories and seen flashbacks of life in the Labyrinth and now we get to experience a little of it. I think the misery of it has been overhyped. Unfortunately for Hugh the Hand, his story is almost completely forgotten. Just one book ago he was able to fight and wound and even presumably kill, and now he can’t even fire a bow straight.
The Seventh Gate:
The final culmination of the series, all the heroes and villains are lined up and have it out. I wonder if all the footnotes and references scattered in the ebook versions existed in the original print. While they are generally referring to things that happened in previous books, there are lots of future details revealed as well. Kind of has The Last Battle vibe, where the fate of the world (or all worlds) are on the line.