I’ve had a craving for a little while to read a fantasy novel. Maybe playing Dungeons and Dragons had reawakened my fantasy side and I wanted to indulge in it more. Only I didn’t want to read LOTR again or Warhammer books, I wanted something slightly different but just as good. My search was a little in vain, so I give up and re-read The Hobbit in prep for going to see the movie. But I wasn’t satisfied afterwards and wanted more….but not Tolkien or Prattchet. My boyfriend suggested a new author; R A Salvatore and has it turned out he was just what I was looking for because he writers fantasy novels set in the DD world.
Though he has written a number of other books and series, it’s to the character he’s most famous for that has been my introduction to Salvatore and DD novels; Drizzt Do’Urden.
Drizzt, a drow (dark elf) is born into Menzoberranzan; an underground matriarchal world of betrayal, war, magic and monsters. Almost scarified at birth, but saved due to his older brother’s death, Drizzt must learn the way of Loth, the Spider Queen and also the skills of a warrior. However, he is no normal drow and keeps hold of his humanity, which all drow loose as they are taught the ways of Loth and to despise the world above. Though he is part of a society which would be considered evil to the above world, Drizzt stands out by his questions on killing and drow history. Somehow though his words are overlooked by other drow and he is able to keep his feelings hidden.
The plot of the story is all about Drizzt growing up and coming to realise that everything he knows is possibly wrong and he no longer wants to be a part of it. Through events he can be seen to arise to challenges and fully develop as a character. In a way the reader grows with him. We are with him in the moments before his birth when the plot twists are being set up and then as he grows up and becomes an adult. There is a lot of fighting in the plot, but it is kept fresh by the different monsters and different reasons. We also get to see Drizzt improve his fighting skills and he becomes very impressive with his swords. I was gripped straight a way into the plot and the setting, finding the 3rd person narrative working well and giving the reader an eye over anything. The cuts to different characters and their plotting, helped move the story along and created a much bigger picture throughout the novel.
The other characters are just as intriguing as Drizzt. There are his sisters and brother fitting the bill as fighting siblings and trying to outdo each other in order to impress their mother. She is a great character being all power hungry and desperate to improve her family’s status in Menzoberranzan. Zak, the master swords man, who trains Drizzt his deeper connects to him than first seems, but during the cuts to his thoughts, the reader can see how similar in nature the two of them are. The antagonists are other drow, who use magic, which is a nice contrast to the use of weapons, but they are just as power hungry as Drizzt’s mother and want the same thing. Lastly, there is Guenhwyvar, who I liked straight a way, he is a magic panther and Drizzt’s only friend. The similarities can be seen in their fighting styles and they complement each other well too. It was nice to have an animal companion for a change!
I really like Salvatore’s writing style, because it is fast pace, gripping and full of information that just sinks into your head. You learn a lot about drow society, but you don’t realize it from the way it is written. The vocabulary is a bit simple in some places, but this just helps the speed of the story telling. Like the Warhammer books, Salvatore makes his fantasy writing as simplified as possible, leaving out long descriptions of settings, battles and other events. This allows the reader to imagine more things and that is something I like doing. Also you don’t want to be bogged down by needless details when reading a world that many would be familiar through playing the game. Which is what I found having played the DD drow trilogy, because that is set in the same area. It’s the little details and drops of humour that add to the greatness of this novel. It is very easy to read over these or not take them fully in because of how they are placed within the story. However, I didn’t find myself flicking back to re-read, because I was just able to take the whole thing in. The dialogue of the characters is great and a lot of raw emotions come through the words. Which is great because the reader should always be able to see the emotion that way and not through the writer stating it. There was nothing heavily accented or old fashioned and the use of the drow language wasn’t over used. It really is an easy book to read and I shall be picking up the second on soon.
Ps. As an added note, I thought I’d say that the character of Drizzt’s reminded me of Malus Darkblade by Dan Abnett and Mike Lee, set in the Warhammer world. Malus is also a dark elf who though evil must fight things more evil then himself. I did think that this was interesting and though it has been awhile since I read him, the books have enough differences between them.