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Coming Soon: The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

9780786963713_p0_v3_s260x420Title: The Companions

Author: R.A. Salvatore

Series: The Sundering #1

Genre: Role Playing Fantasy

Release Date: August 6, 2013

The Overview: This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore’s beloved fantasy saga, The Companionsmoves Salvatore’s signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt’s fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life—the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.

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Nik’s Notes:

Those of you familiar with the Forgotten Realms empire are probably aware of the dozens of spinoff novels spawned by the highly successful Drizzt books of R.A. Salvatore. His latest novel, The Companions, is the beginning of a new such spinoff. This means the next three book in the series are written by different authors, and are essentially stand-alones. This first book is the only one containing the “companions” that we have all come to know and love, so I’m not totally sure it’s one I want to read, but I’ll probably break down and pick it up anyway out of nostalgia.

Here’s a look at the next three books in the series and their release dates:

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!

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

Title: The Orc King

Author: R.A. Salvatore

Series: Transitions #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The OverviewAn uneasy peace between the dwarves of Mithral Hall and the orcs of the newly established Kingdom of Many-Arrows can’t last long. The orc tribes united under Obould begin to fight each other, and Bruenor is determined to finish the war that nearly killed him and almost destroyed everything he’s worked to build. But it will take more than swords and axes to bring a lasting peace to the Spine of the World. Powerful individuals on both sides may have to change the way they see each other. They may have to start to talk. But it won’t be easy.

The Review:

As the first book in the Transitions trilogy, “The Orc King” is actually around book #20 for the series as a whole. Because I’ve already highlighted the overall qualities of the series in a post for book #1, “Homeland,” I wont go into too many details here.

Having so many books under his belt, it always amazes me when Salvatore continues to produce quality, page-turning novels. This was no exception, containing a great story, strong characters, and an awesome plot advance that boded for more great novels in the future. My favorite element to this book is its examination of motives within a inherently “evil” race. It highlighted that mortal enemies just might have more in common than they first thought. Salvatore did such a good job expanding on the orcs that at times they almost felt… human.

I once watched an interview with the author, in which he made the claim that everything book within a series he tries to write well enough to become a stand-alone. While he definitely succeeds as far as plot structure and overall craft, I don’t think this would be NEAR as enjoyable without the significant back-history behind it. In fact, I’m not even sure it would make sense. There were a lot of events that eluded to prior events, and the whole series summarized in a few pages sounds convoluted and confusing. If he truly wanted a stand-alone book, his books would be twice as thick filled with all the extensive back-history.

Recommendations: If this is your first introduction to Salvatore’s Drizzt books, I highly recommend you start with “The Dark Elf” trilogy.

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

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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