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I just finished reading Gauntlgrym last night (at about 2 am, let the record show), and I have a good deal to say about this book.  After the ending to The Ghost King, I was a bit gunshy of reading this sucker, knowing that Salvatore was going to be pushed to cut more characters from the storyline, if for no other reason than to catapult Drizzt into the new era of the Forgotten Realms setting.  I give Salvatore credit; he held off from biting into the crap sandwich that has become Forgotten Realms for two full years plus with this series.  (I promise this will NOT turn into a rant of how much the new Forgotten Realms pisses me off.  Well, not totally a rant.)

The novel itself spans a large amount of time.  It opens with Bruenor deviously abdicating the throne so that he and Drizzt, almost two and a half decades after The Ghost King, can get on the road in search of Gauntlgrym, the legendary home of the Delzoun clan of dwarves. Over the long span of years, Bruenor and Drizzt’s quests are highlighted, speeding rapidly through what could have been a lot of boring exposition.  With the loss of Thibbledorf Pwent from their party to the ravages of age, and the inadvertent destruction wrought by Athrogate (yup, Jarlaxle and Athrogate show up in the book), and the efforts a decade later to reclaim Gauntlgrym, the book moves at a good pace, keeping the plot development and progression as complete as possible without turning the bulk of the book into a mire of details.

We are treated to the introduction of a new character, Dahlia Sin’felle.  An elf allied with the Red Wizards of Thay, her history is revealed throughout the first part of the novel, building up her background and revealing the source of her villainous outlook on life.  We are also treated to another villain: Herzgo Alegni, a tiefling shade of Netheril.  (More on him later, in the Spoiler Section).  I will talk more about his servant, Barrabus, also later.  In the first half of the book, the action switches between pairs: Drizzt and Bruenor searching for Gauntlgrym, Dahlia and the vampire Dor’crae also seeking Gauntlgrym (for less benevolent reasons), Jarlaxle and Athrogate searching for a good time (and ending up working with Dahlia for a very short time), and Herzgo and Barrabus searching for an end to the freedom of Neverwinter.

The major note I would make about the first book (and a good deal of the second book) is the devolution of Drizzt.  The loss of his love, Catti-Brie, and his friend Regis, as well as the knowledge that Wulfgar will also have died, if from nothing other than old age, has taken its toll on Drizzt.  He is far less than his usual jovial self for the majority of the book; that is not to say that he is depressed or whiny.  Quite the opposite.  He is falling further and further into his Hunter persona, giving in to the more savage side of himself, and wondering if he was only deluding himself for over a century or so.

The best part of it, though, occurs when Jarlaxle gives him a firm pimp slap in the form of some revelatory knowledge about just what he means to people he has never met.  Jarlaxle is far from a heroic character, but in the book you see a side of him that harkens back to a reason or two why he and Drizzt’s father, Zaknafein, may have been the best of friends.

SPOILERS!

By the end of the book, people important to Drizzt are once again dead.  Unbeknownst to him, one of his oldest foes is still alive and now knows that Drizzt is still breathing as well.  He has taken up with Dahlia Sin’felle, who has seemingly turned her back on who she was.  And new foes have appeared on the horizon: the Red Wizards of Thay and the Ashmadai and the Shadovar of Netheril.  The world is a changed place, and not necessarily for the better.

I liked this book far better than The Ghost King.  While more people die, you get to see Drizzt slapped back into place by one of the last people that would be expected to give a damn about our favorite drow.  You can’t help but sympathize with him, even though you get very little of his usual internal monologues.  The poor bastard feels adrift on a sea of loss, and wondering if any of it was worth the effort.  I won’t give it all away, but suffice it to say that by the end of the book,  you are left with the feeling that Drizzt is no longer just a survivor.

I honestly cannot wait for the next in the series to come out.

What do you think?

 

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6 Comments

  1. I have to agree. I really enjoyed this book, i’m glad that Jarlaxle and Arthrogate survived because they make good villains, but also good allies. I also enjoy the elf and her cool weapon and story. I feel like the story is headed in a cool new direction. Only thing i don’t like much are the new villains i don’t feel they have the same depth and epic feel that Artimas and past enemies did. (please excuse the misspelled names)

  2. Mourn not, for Pwent is still alive…in a way. In the new Legend of Drizzt comic we see that when Pwent got his throat ripped out he was actually bitten by Dor’Crae. After he was buried he awoke as a Vampire, much to his own surprise. He is now on the hunt for Dor’Crae, so he can destroy him. He also has a taste for Goblins…

  3. Interesting review, and I agree with most of it. The weird thing was how I felt as adrift as Drizzt did as he moves through the world, and Dahlia’s active attempts to chip away at his morality are seriously pissing me off. This is not to say I don’t see her complexity, I do! She’s multi layered and I find her rather interesting, even if I dislike her. Her arrogance is SOOO grating! And I sometimes feel like smacking Drizzt and saying “Her masks are to prevent you from seeing she’s empty inside!!!” But then, where would the story go?

    Ironically, though I’m a bit upset to see Drizzt almost losing himself, it’s actually Dahlia who is holding my attention more, precisely for that reason. and because I can see the potential in her, even if I want her to fall off the face of Faerun. The revelations that are revealed in book 2 are a giant set up, and from there her character could go anywhere! I hate her so far, but I’m intrigued by where she’ll go.

    Then there’s Barrabus, who is who I thought he was. I was as relieved as Drizzt that they found each other! The set ups from here are going to get real!!

    By the way, I didn’t know they had comics on his adventures with Dahlia…do you happen to know the titles?

  4. As far as I know, they are called Neverwinter Tales, and one of them apparently features a Thibbledorf Pwent that has been turned to vampirism. As for Dahlia: I cannot stand that bitch. And surprise of surprises, she is leading Drizzt down a dark path in the newest book, Neverwinter. I find myself hoping more and more that she dies before the end of the series. Please, dear God, let that happen.
    In other news, it seems Barrabus the Grey is working himself up to a run-in with Drizzt, hopefully to free him of the curse of the sword and of the overbearing Herzgo Alegni (another bastard that has to die).
    Once I finish Neverwinter, I will be posting a review of it as well.

    • Hey, I’d love to read it! 🙂

        • chalybsanimus
        • Posted 27/10/2011 at 06:27
        • Permalink

        The review of Neverwinter is up now as well. Tell me what you think. And a more detailed review will be forthcoming as well.


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