Classic Covers: Dragonlance

It might be fair to say that the Dragonlance series — initially a trilogy of novels written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in tandem with a group of D&D modules from TSR — is The Lord of the Rings of media tie in fiction: massively best-selling, appealing to a broader fanbase than conventional wisdom dictated, and prompting an entire industry of imitators. In Dragonlance one can see the beginnings of not only an explosion in shared worlds based on popular media, but also the genesis of Young Adult fiction as a force punching well above its weight class in publishing.

Surely much of the initial runaway success of the series belongs to Larry Elmore, whose art was already synonymous with Dungeons and Dragons and Dragon Magazine, and his beautiful and now iconic ‘character portrait’ style covers for the first trilogy, the Dragonlance Chronicles, and it’s even stronger follow-up, Legends. Certainly, eleven-year-old me could not resist plucking them from the shelves as they came out — and hat’s off to Elmore (and TSR) for avoiding spoilers for book two, unlike the cover art that appeared for subsequent print runs…

Of course, book covers only begin to scratch the surface of the art of Dragonlance, and much of the best work of artists such as Elmore and other TSR regulars Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Keith Parkinson, and others are featured on or in the gaming supplements detailing the world of Krynn. Below is the initial run of modules that were published concurrently with the Dragonlance Chronicles, in which the heroes and events of the novels can be played out on the table, as well as the Dragonlance Adventures supplement for AD&D.

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