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Book Review: Neverwinter by R.A. Salvatore

Title: Neverwinter

Author: R.A. Salvatore

Series: Neverwinter #2, Legend of Drizzt #21

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: SPOILERS: with the last of his trusted companions having fallen, Drizzt is alone–and free–for the first time in almost a hundred years. Guilt mingles with relief, leaving Drizzt uniquely vulnerable to the persuasions of his newest companion–Dahlia, a darkly alluring elf and the only other member of their party to survive the cataclysm at Mount Hotenow. But traveling with Dahlia is challenging in more ways than one. As the two companions seek revenge on the one responsible for leveling Neverwinter–and nearly Luskan as well–Drizzt finds his usual moral certainty swept away by her unconventional views. Forced to see the dark deeds that the common man may be driven to by circumstance, Drizzt begins to find himself on the wrong side of the law in an effort to protect those the law has failed. Making new enemies, as his old enemies acquire deadly allies, Drizzt and Dahlia quickly find themselves embroiled in battle–a state he’s coming to enjoy a little too much. -Goodreads

The Review:

It feels good to be back with Drizzt.

I set the series aside almost five years ago. Coming off a major high from the brilliance that was The Ghost King, I found myself struggling to get into Gauntlgrym. It was a decent Drizzt novel, but I don’t think I was ready to embark on a new chapter in Drizzt’s world quite yet. So I tabled it, knowing I’d get back to it eventually. What I hadn’t expected was how prolific Salvatore would continue to be in this series – I find myself now at least ten books behind the latest publication. So between series FOMO and a stellar review I read for the most recent release, I found myself eager to dive back in. Even more so since recently reading Child of a Mad God and marveling at how beautifully that was written. It was time.

But I have to admit it was a struggle at first.

I’ve waited all this time to get back with Drizzt and was disappointed that the first third of Neverwinter only had a couple of short scenes with him. It was more focused on villain POVs which, even though Salvatore does them well, I often lose patience with. These types of ongoing stories have a tendency to follow the pattern of: meet a villain, fight the villain, kill the villain, then meet a bigger/badder villain, fight and kill it, etc. So when reading endless passages about bad guys, I can’t help but feel uninvested. After all, their fates might already be sealed to perish at the end of a scimitar… every now and then I get surprised, but for the time being, those sections were a struggle to get through.

Somewhere around the middle, things started picking up. There were a couple more of those amazing introspective Drizzt interludes (my favorite component of this whole saga), and the focus shifted more to what he and his companions were doing. It frankly saved a potential DNF.

And then, Salvatore dropped a bomb. And, sir, you now have my full attention.

Yes! This is what I needed. To be surprised. To remember why I loved these novels in the first place. And now I end Neverwinter with a spring in my step – ready to pick up the next book sooner than later.

Overall, this book had a couple of great moments, but it was definitely not the strongest I’ve read from the author. There’s a lot of setup for what looks to be the next era in Drizzt’s life, which takes some time to develop.

Recommendations: Drizzt might seem an intimidating series to start, but it’s unique in that each progressive set of 3 and 4 novels are really self-contained and satisfying, so you can stop at any given point if you feel you’ve had enough and still have that sense of reading a completed story. I’d recommend starting with the Dark Elf Trilogy – one of my favorites and one of the few I’ve reread more than once (a strong endorsement, as I’m not a rereader – I’ve too many amazing titles to get to!).

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Gauntlgrym by R.A. Salvatore

gauntlgrymTitle: Gauntlgrym

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Series: Neverwinter #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The OverviewDrizzt joins Bruenor on his quest for the fabled dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym: ruins said to be rich with ancient treasure and arcane lore. But before they even get close, another drow and dwarf pair stumbles across it first: Jarlaxle and Athrogate. In their search for treasure and magic, Jarlaxle and Athrogate inadvertently set into motion a catastrophe that could spell disaster for the unsuspecting people of the city of Neverwinter–a catastrophe big enough to lure even the mercenary Jarlaxle into risking his own coin and skin to stop it. Unfortunately, the more they uncover about the secret of Gauntlgrym, the more it looks like they can’t stop it on their own. They’ll need help, and from the last people they ever thought to fight alongside again: Drizzt and Bruenor. -Goodreads

The Mini Review: 

Salvatore strikes again! I took a little break from this saga after The Ghost King (which ripped out my heart), but picking up Gauntlgrym after all that time felt like coming home.

Salvatore is known for his detailed hand-to-hand combat scenes, which pack a lot of excitement into his books. I have to say, after 20 or so novels of the same back-and-forth swordplay, I started to get a little… bored isn’t the right word, but let’s just say it lacks a bit of the thrill it once had for me. That said, I can’t imagine a Drizzt book without intricate fight scenes, so you really can’t win with me. ;P

Gauntlgrym’s storyline required an unusual passage of time compared to others in the series, which was a cool change of pace that kept me interested throughout. I also loved the mix of new and old characters – the elf woman (cover image), among my new favorites.

Overall, Gauntlgrym (I am proud to say that I can finally spell it without having to look it up– go me!) was a fun installment and excellent continuation of the series. Although it was nowhere near my favorite of the saga, I’m still excited to start Neverwinter sometime soon.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

 

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Book Review: The Ghost King by R.A. Salvatore

a1Title: The Ghost King

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Series: Transitions III

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!!

The OverviewWhen the Spellplague ravages Faerûn, Drizzt and his companions are caught in the chaos. Seeking out the help of the priest Cadderly–the hero of the recently reissued series The Cleric Quintet–Drizzt finds himself facing his most powerful and elusive foe, the twisted Crenshinibon, the demonic crystal shard he believed had been destroyed years ago.

The Review: 

One of the best ones yet! I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed the snot out of this book. Just when I think I’ve read everything he has to offer he comes out with an excellent novel like this that reminds me why I loved the series in the first place.

The last book (The Pirate King) focused more on political uprisings and storylines of secondary characters. While interesting in their own right, I’m glad to be getting back to these beloved characters that could frankly be doing anything at this point and I would still enjoy reading about it. There are so many great characters with epic histories packed into this novel that I wondered how Salvatore manages to keep them feeling rounded and fresh. Most notably is the reappearance of one of my favorite characters, Jarlaxle. He’s one of the best characters in fantasy because he’s dynamic – you are never quite sure whether he’s on our hero’s side and it’s always interesting to see what he does next! I also appreciated the villain of this particular book although the names were so wonky I had a difficult time keeping all of them straight. Without physical bodies as reference (you’ll see) it made those passages a bit boring because they flew right over my head.

Overall, the book felt like the culmination of everything we’ve read so far into one incredibly grand climax to the series. There were several clever tiebacks to past books, and it really had the best bits from everything. This is a fabulous series that I think any fantasy lover shouldn’t be without! There is definitely a bit of violence and darkness in this series, but nothing overly graphic. I usually feel comfortable recommending this everyone 13+.

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

Book Review: The Pirate King by R.A. Salvatore

a1Title: The Pirate King

Author: R.A. Salvatore

Series: Transitions #2

Genre: Role Playing Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Captain Deudermont has sailed to the pirate city of Luskan on a mission—a mission to once and for all defeat the true power behind the corrupt city: a wicked lich and his cabal of evil wizards from the Host Tower of the Arcane. But the Host Tower has some tricks up its sleeve, as do the pirate captains who would like to see both sides fail.

Captain Deudermont is convinced that he can save this futuristic metropolis, but Drizzt knows better. To save the embattled city and his friend, he returns to Luskan. 

The Review:

These book are fantastic! I consider them must-reads for fantasy buffs and role playing gamers alike! The author never fails to deliver fast-paced, well-rounded books. I love them because they manage to build momentum off of one-another while still maintaining a fully-developed plot within each book. A lot of fun to read, they set the stage for what has erupted into hundreds of Forgotten Realms spinoffs on the market today.

Salvatore has a great talent of taking you to different parts of his world and making each place vibrant and rich. From the frozen tundra of Icewind Dale to the seaside city of Luskan, you will never go without an excellent setting. So far, he’s written a few novels that deal with seafaring and the pirating community, and I argue with myself on whether or not I like them best. They certainly are different than other books in the saga, and I always find them a breath of fresh air (no pun intended).

While there are so many great attributes to this saga, by far my favorite elements are the characters. There are several throughout this series that I have absolutely loved – including the villains. Fair warning, you’d better be ready to read all 25+ novels because half the fun is finding out what happens next!

by Niki Hawkes

If you like this book, you might also like:

  • Sorcery Rising by Jude Fisher
  • Homeland  by R.A. Salvatore (the story that started it all)
  • Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
  • The Aware by Glenda Larke
  • The Thief’s Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna

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Coming Soon: The Last Threshold

Mar 5.Title: The Last Threshold

Series: Neverwinter Saga #4

Author: R.A. Salvatore

Release Date: March 5, 2013

As mentioned in my review of “Homeland“, R.A. Salvatore is one of my favorite authors in the fantasy genre. One of the best things about him is his ability to deliver one great book after another and “The Last Threshold” should be no different. If you haven’t picked up a Drizzt book, you are sorely missing out!

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“Homeland” (Legend of Drizzt #1) by R.A. Salvatore (5/5 stars)

Title: Homeland

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Series: The Dark Elf Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Review:

“Homeland’ is not just the first of an amazing trilogy, but is also the beginning of the brilliant “Legend of Drizzt” saga. A well-rounded prequel, it takes you deep into the kingdom of Menzoberranzan where dark elves rule with unabashed cruelty. Among them dwells Drizzt, an anomaly with honor and compassion who yearns for a different life. A tad slow to start, the story soon launches to become one of the most epic fantasy adventures in the genre.

There are a lot of positives to this series: Highly, and I mean HIGHLY memorable characters – I swear they’re practically a religion at this point, some of the most stylized and intricate sword-fighting scenes you’ll ever read, epic world-building, and a unique, mold-shattering storyline – I’ve never read such a fantastic tribute to the dark elf culture.

As good as the characterization is, I find it somewhat lacking in one regard: While there are a plethora of beautiful women, there is a distinct lack of relatable feminine characters, as most of them express male personalities and tendencies. While that works for some women (I realize we’re all wonderfully different creatures), it should not be the standard for all. I believe women warriors can be both feminine and dangerous, just examine Kahlan in the Sword of Truth series, and you’ll know what I mean. In any case, I don’t think that distinction bothered many people, and despite my opinion on it, I still loved ALL the characters and Salvatore remains solidly in my top 10.

Overall, if you want a long-term sustaining series that will take you on epic adventures, involve you in fantastic fight-scenes, and make you fall in love with some of the most brilliant fantasy characters in the genre’s history, then these are the books for you! Still going strong, there are over 25 titles that continue the story, and each one is honestly as good as the last.

Recommendations: Although the “Icewind Dale” trilogy was written first, I strongly recommend you start with “Homeland” in the “Dark Elf” trilogy, as it is first chronologically. Not only will that give the story more of a solid flow, but is also a much stronger representation of Salvatore’s works as the series continues, so if you like it, you’ll probably like the entire saga.

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

  • “Dragons of Autumn Twilight” by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • “The Cleric Quintet” by R.A. Salvatore (a spinoff worth reading after book 10 or so)
  • “Magician: Apprentice” by Raymond E. Feist
  • “Wayfarer Redemption” by Sara Douglass
  • “Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind