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I literally just got done reading Neverwinter, and I have to say… I really can’t wait for Dahlia to go away.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like how it is giving Drizzt some new gut-checks on his stances regarding a number of things, but he is still finding that his instincts are serving him well.  While she is doing some small damage to him, making him question at odd moments, she is not shaking him to the core.

What I will say, in a positive tone, is that the meeting of Artemis Entreri and Drizzt again after so many decades is well worth the read.  There is a point just after Drizzt encounters Entreri that he wonders if it isn’t just a part of him wishing for times long past.  And right there is the hardest crux of this.

You see, Salvatore’s writing has changed.  Or rather, the tone of the Drizzt novels as Salvatore writes them has changed.  There is a darker edge than ever before, and an increased attention to sexuality throughout the book.  It was only hinted that Drizzt’s last night with his catatonic wife, Catti-brie, was engaged in sex.  In this book, it is out and out stated that Drizzt sleeps with Dahlia.  In addition there are scenes involving the villainess Sylora Salm, her champion Jestry, and a succubus having a tryst, the hint of what happened to a captive Entreri took in a battle at the hands of Alegni, and even a violent threat of emasculation.

None of this is tawdry; Salvatore hasn’t turned into even a softcore porn writer.  But he has introduced those darker and more lascivious elements to his writing.  I don’t have too much of a problem with it other than this: it shows a fundamental shift in what is expected of authors, especially those associated with Dungeons & Dragons.

When Salvatore started, they were great books of high adventure, fun, sweeping grandeur and the same feel you would get from reading the classics of fantasy.  But now, it feels grimmer, grittier, more disposed to the seedier and darker elements.  And I don’t know if I like that.  Drizzt to me was always a hero, the kind of stand-up guy you quietly hoped you would be like, or your kids would emulate.  But now… it’s stained.  And that worries me.

There are some good inside jokes in there, including a lovely joke about World of Warcraft imps and the actions they take as you sit idly.  There is still Drizzt struggling against darkness, this time as much in the bad guys as his new lover (oh how I railed against that little fact coming out).  But there is also the sense that something has changed.  And I don’t really know if it’s a good thing.

I am not saying that Salvatore is an amazing writer, nor am I saying that this should be the barometer by which all other fantasy literature is measured.  But I am saying that it’s the first I noticed of the shifting trends in fantasy.  And again, I really don’t know if I like it all that much when it comes to some of these heroes.

Still, read the book.  It has great moments, Salvatore’s almost trademark fight scenes, and the great monologues by Drizzt preceding every section of the book.  It does not disappoint, overall.

What do you think?

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7 Comments

  1. I agree about Dahlia, and this darker shift in Drizzt has been bothering me to the point of obsession since I read Neverwinter. I do get it, the world itself has gotten darker, and Drizzt may have to shift his tolerances from his previously held stances, but I don’t want him to lose himself. I’ve been listening to every podcast interview with Bob that I can get my hands on, and I have to say that, as far as the creative process he speaks of going through with Drizzt, I can’t really hold anything against him. The way he writes just brings Drizzt to life, but I’m praying like mad that Drizzt doesn’t get dragged down by Dahlia due to his anger. Even Entreri might have a negative impact, if Drizzt allows it.

    As to the trends in general, I’ve been wondering if the success of A Song of Ice and Fire might have influenced it a teensy bit. I don’t think it’s been a huge thing, but I do think it’s had a small impact along with the grittier sci fi and darker entertainment in general this last decade. I don’t know if Bob would have gone there if circumstances hadn’t forced him to, but now that he has it’s given him new creative opportunities as well as a chance to question life’s darker questions.

    Lots of things bother me about Dahlia, the biggest being her hypocrisy. She hates Alegni, but she allowed him to shape her whole life. She basically became him in an attempt to be invulnerable and powerful, and obviously had the goal of taking him out one day. The facial woad, the constant attitude shifts, to me these are all tawdry tricks played by a person who is terrified of true intimacy with another. Drizzt is fascinated by the Bad Girl, and is living up to his statement of being so desperate to know her that he’s assigning qualities to her. How long till her continuing distance starts to grate? One scene in the book, right before they get to Neverwinter Wood and she asks about Cattie-brie, makes me hope that some qualities are subconsciously already starting to grate!

    Ok, I’ve yakked alot here! Love the review, and let’s pray that Drizzt drags his new companions UP to his level instead!

  2. Ugh! That should have read “life’s darker times”!

  3. Thought you might be interested that Mr. Salvatore liked your review. 😀

  4. I do believe I crapped myself in amazement when I saw that link. Thanks! Oh, two more things: I responded to his comment, and don’t worry about soapboxing here. That is why I ask all my readers what they think.
    Thanks for reading!

  5. My pleasure! It’s rather a relief to talk about this with someone, as I’ve been SO rattled by this latest book. I actually blogged (sort of) my experience reading the book, if you can believe it. Just a series of emails I wrote to myself while reading the story. I’ve wanted to do that before with other works by Mr. Salvatore, and he’s the only author that makes me want to write down what I’m feeling. But this, Drizzt losing his way and drifting and then taking up with a woman who actively wants to change him for the obvious purpose of a) making him more amusing/entertaining to her and b) having someone more like herself close. If Drizzt is more like her, he won’t force her to think about things she so far dismisses. I guess what I mean there is that, though Dahlia has come off as callous and uncaring (and Drizzt LIKES her??), how long would she be able to continue if Drizzt is continually doing what’s right. I could see her choosing to walk away, or try to kill him as she does all her lovers, before allowing him to make her see things differently. As I said before, I think it’s tied up with her belief that being as she is means she’s powerful and invulnerable.

    However, I think she’s been set up for a HUGE fall! That Effron kid is very interesting…

  6. I have always loved Salvatore’s writing, I have yet to read neverwinter, having just finished Gauntlygrim. However, after 3 decades of insinuations, hints, and allusions, I would love to see him scribe in the literal and visceral. We live in the real world, and the greatest fantasies are those that mirror it. It provides a level of realism to an otherwise simplistic and childish outlook on life. Writers such as Brent Weeks and Jim Butcher have grasped this concept in fantastic ways and haves delivered engrossing stories that can be read again and again. Patrick Rothfuss is a living legend with only two books. Literary icons like Salvatore have always reigned supreme,darkness with open arms, because Salvatore has always been in the same league as the afore mentioned without this level of secularity. The levels he will reach with this new addition to his capabilities has me salivating for more.

  7. Drizzt is maturing and so is RA. I always thought Cattie bri, was much to one dimensional and was happy to learn she was developing magic skills…too bad it never happend. Dahliah is by far more suited and exotic for Drizzt and comes from thay, a counter point to his own heritige. Great series just growing up! Read every book!


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