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Tag Archives: Do’Urden

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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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?