The Death Gate Cycle is a series of books written by Margaret Weis
and Tracy Hickman
. At a later date, I will provide plot synopses for each of the books, but for now, the books are, in order:
The Serpent Mage
Hand of Chaos
Into The Labyrinth
The Seventh Gate
The backstory is simply told on the back of the books, which I will paraphrase here. It's not much of a spoiler at all, so don't have a heart attack. Thousands of years ago, a war was fought between two near-godlike races: the Sartan and the Patryn. The war was won (pointed out by Alfred Montbank in Into The Labyrinth - no one truly won), and the Sartan cast the Patryns into The Labyrinth, a "rehabilitative" prison of sorts. The Sartan then proceeded to Sunder the world, splitting it into four realms: the Realms of Air(Arianus), Fire (Pryan), Stone (Abarrach) and Water (Chelestra). The first four books deal with those respective realms, and the last three skip through each of the realms, and into the Labyrinth, the Nexus, and other wonderful places, which I will leave to the reader to see and discover.
The series centres around two main characters: Haplo, a Patryn, and Alfred Montbank (though this is not his true name), a Sartan. Though I cannot say more without spoiling it for anyone else, I will say that Haplo and his dog is the foremost character in these novels, and there are, given that there are seven books, many characters who are "main" characters, in the sense that they do experience significant change through the course of the stories, Haplo is the one whom everything revolves around. (For examples, think Limbeck, and Hugh the Hand.)
Also of some import is the addition of Zifnab, a rather important character, in that he is analogous to Fizban the Fabulous, from the Dragonlance series. As a matter of fact, there is a reference in the Dragonlance book Dragons of Summer Flame, to Haplo, and Zifnab, in The Death Gate Cycle, mentions Caramon, Raistlin and others. He plays the same deus ex machina sort of character, as well.
All in all, this extremely engrossing set of books is ideal for any fantasy/sci-fi fanatic. The worlds that Weis and Hickman are so thoroughly described and detailed (with rather concise and thorough Appendixes
at the end of each book) that the reader does feel as if they are standing beside the characters. Only Frank Herbert has so thoroughly created a world in such a manner, although it can be argued that Tolkien did as well.