Well well well.  Another book, another world overview.  Welcome ladies and gents to the most prolific series in the Forgotten Realms world, and without which I would have had no idea that there were any books related to Neverwinter Nights, my RPG obsession at the time I just so happened to luck upon the first book in the series, Homeland.

R.A. Salvatore was a New York Times bestselling writer before ever laying imagination on the Drizz’t saga.  Not quite sure what got him into working for Wizards of the Coast, or how he came up with the Drizz’t characters in the first place, but needless to say they were well received.

Now Salvatore written 20+ books in the Drizz’t saga, with more in the works and two other series that tie into the overall plot of the Drizz’t saga.  Unfortunately timeline wise I’m not quite sure where those other series tie in at the moment, so for now I will place those two series, the Sellswords and the Cleric Quintet in the review timeline just as they become required reading.

And like Terry Brook’s Shannara saga, there are so bloody many out to date, I’m going to try and just give you a run down of each story arc rather than each book.  Didn’t work out so well with my Shannara overview, but lets see if I can get it this time round.

And away we go.

The Dark Elf Trilogy:

Here we are introduced to the man of the hour for twenty years running: Drizz’t Do’Urdern.

Born in the Underdark to a race of dark skinned, malicious and chaotic evil elves known as the Drow, this entire trilogy is dedicated to telling us the origin story of our hero.  His family, his culture, his society, and what basically shaped him to be the elf he is today.

The thing is, unlike his dark skinned brethren, Drizz’t is not malicious or chaotic.  He actually has a good heart and is not afraid to show it.  Something that gets him into quite the spot of bother in his subterranean home, to the point where he decides to forsake his people, make his way to the surface, and try to forge a new life for himself.

We’re never actually sure how much time Drizz’t spends in the Underdark, both in the city of his birth as well as traveling the dark alleys searching for a route to the surface, but it’s at least half a century by the end of which he has broken free into the sunshine and takes his first steps onto his path of eventually becoming a ranger of the forest goddess Meiliki.

Icewind Dale Trilogy:

So Drizz’t spends a few years wandering around the face of Faerun, and he finally winds up in the last refuge of scoundrels, theives, cutpurses, and occationally good people at the end of the world: a wee place called Icewind Dale and the cities of Ten Towns.

Now living in the mountains of Icewind Dale is the dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer, king of the Battlehammer clan that lives in the mountains, along with his human, adopted daughter Cattie-Brie.  Elves and dwarves have never been the best of friends, and all the goodly races look upon Drow with fear and derision, although mostly fear.  And it was the same at first with Bruenor, Cattie-Brie, and the residents of Ten Towns.  But over time Drizz’t is essentially able to win them over, and they become great friends.

We are also introduced to Wulfgar, Bruenor’s adopted son, who he adopts after Wulfgar’s barbarian tribe attacks Ten Towns and leaves the unconscious young boy for dead; along with the halfling Regis, a long time companion to Bruenor and resident of Ten Towns, and Drizz’t arch nemesis, the human assassin Artemis Entreri.

They kill a few barbarians, a dragon or two, and defeat a man wizard and his ancient, evil sentient crystal shard before going off to find the ancient home of the Battlehammer dwarves, Mithril Hall

Legacy of the Drow:

Here in Legacy the Companions of the Hall as they are come to be known as (Drizz’t, Bruenor, Cattie-Brie, Regis, and Wulfgar), have reclaimed Mithril Hall from the shadow dragon Shimmergloom and his dark dwarf minions, the ones who drove out the Battlehammers so long ago.  But their days are not for peace and sunshine just yet.

See, Drizz’t old kith and kin, the drow of Menzoberanzan, are not content to leave him be, so they launch an attack on Mithril Hall, and the Companions must rise to defend it.  Along the way Wulfgar is lost to the Abyss and freed again, and the start of a new series, the War of the Spider Queen begins here.

Paths of Darkness:

Paths of Darkness starts off with Wulfgar trying to come to terms with what he suffered in the Abyss, and fleeing to Luskan when he fails to do so.  He teams up with a human called Morrik the Rogue, is charged with the murder of an old friend Captain Deudermont, he loses his hammer Aegis Fang, gets his hammer back, gets married, saves his wife from being murdered, and is eventually followed by and reunited with his companions.  Whew!  This is a very Wulfgar oriented series this is…

Drizz’t takes the crystal shard from the self titled book, to Cadderly Bonaduce from the Cleric Quintet, hoping that with his powers as a chosen of the god Denir, Cadderly will be able to destroy the shard once and for all.  Alas and alack, Jarlaxle impersonates the priest, and takes the crystal for himself.

Drizz’t also comes face to face with the elf child he saved long before he left the Underdark, but it’s not a happy reunion.  Being driven mad by the slaughter of her mother, friends and family, she focuses on the one drow face she remembers, Drizz’t’s, and hunts him down for vengeance.  Unfortunately, to save himself, Drizz’t must kill the misguided elf girl, and she becomes the one death that haunts him mercilessly.

Hunter’s Blades:

Here we have a bit of a regression of Drizz’t personality.  The orc King Obould Many-Arrows allies with a clan of frost giants and raises a massive army that he ends north, all the while unbeknownst to either side, the drow have not all left as believed, and they play both ends against the middle as the saying goes.  There’s a siege during this war at a town called Shallows, and Drizz’t witnesses a battle where it appears that all the other Companions die.  Grieving for the apparent loss of his friends, Drizz’t reverts back to the Hunter, the being of pure hunting and killing instinct, and he takes it upon himself to slaughter the orc army single handedly, one orc at a time.

But of course, the Companions survive, and fight an increasingly pitched battle against the orc forces, eventually being driven back to the very gates of Mithril Hall itself, where Bruenor implements a desperate plan to bring about the end of the world and ensure the safety of his family, friends, and his clan.

While all this is going on, Drizz’t as the Hunter is picking off the orcs one by one, and comes across two other elves Tarathiel and Innovindil, who just so happen to ride pegasai, and while Tarathiel dies at the hands of Obould and his mount gets taken as a trophy, Innovindil is left free with Drizz’t and eventually bring him back to himself.

So a lot of stuff happens in the Hunter’s Blades, but the only major plot line to be tied up in this novel is the question of what Drizzt will do about his relationship with Cattie-Brie.

Cleric Quintet:

The goddess of poison Talona has a large role to play in the Cleric Quintet, and she uses a wizard called Aballister as her pawn to release something called the Chaos Curse.  The Chaos Curse, once inhaled, causes you to lose all sense of self control.  Aballister heads of to one of the highest places of learning, the Edificant Library, he tricks a young priest by the name of Cadderly Bonaduce to release the poison.  After fighting off the effects of the poison and a mind blocking spell, Cadderly is able to get it together and save the library.

But all is not well after the library is saved.  The evil of the Chaos Curse has been unleashed into the world.  Castle Trinity is ruled by Ablallister and populated by evil wizards and their undead, with plans to conquer the Edificant Library and surrounding areas.  In the forest of Shilmista surrounding the library, lives a clan of elves.  And for the most part the elves and the priests get along well enough, but when a darkness decends upon the forest, elves and humans must put aside all their prejudices to stand together against the darkness.

Cadderly’s battle against the Chaos Curse takes him with his love Danica to the city of Caradoon, a city of shadows, assassins, and rules by the Night Masks.  Once facing down the possibility of a horrible, silent death, Cadderly makes his way to Castle Trinity to defeat Aballister, and returns home.

But the Edificant Library is soon overrun with the undead buried in the crypts below the library, and Cadderly must destroy his beloved home in order to save it.  In and around all this, Cadderly faces down a dragon, falls in love, gets married, and in the end becomes a chosen of his god, Deneir.  Well done Cadderly, well done.

The Sellswords:

The Sellswords focuses on Drizz’t’s nemesis, Artemis Entreri; and the enigmatic dark elf Jarlaxle.  The unlikely duo join forces in the Servant of the Shard, first of this trilogy and last of the Paths of Darkness series.

So Artemis loses his will to live, and gets it back, allying himself with Jarlaxle as his tie to the surface world.  Caught up in the mechanisms of Jarlaxle and his band, Artemis is drawn back to his birth city, the city of Calimport where once he was the most feared of assassins.  But now he must prove himself again in this city of poisoners, thieves and cut throats, while Jarlaxle, who still has the possession of the Crystal Shard from earlier, starts to lose himself to it’s mental intrusions.

After getting hired by a pair of dragon sisters to recover some long lost relics of an ancient lich, Artemis, Jarlaxle, and Jarlaxle’s band spend some time running around, having adventures and getting some cool loot like the soul of a dracolich, a statue that summons a nightmare hell steed, and a new companion!  A dwarven berserker by the name of Athrogate, who only works with the other two after trying to kill Artemis and being trapped in an inter dimensional black hole by Jarlaxle.

And in the end the impossible happens: Artemis starts to fall in love!  Too bad she tries to stab  him in the back in the middle of coitus.  Artemis saves his birth town, finds out he’s been manipulated into falling in love by Jarlaxle, and parts ways from him and Athrogate, swearing that he never wants to see either one again.

Transitions:

Here we deal with three Kings: Orc, Pirate and Ghost.

In Orc King we’re brought back to the descendant of King Obould May-Arrows, sixth in the line of succession, and apparently ruling!  The peace between the orcs and dwarves has held despite the misgivings of the dwarves, and Bruenor and Drizz’t begin the search for ancient Gauntlgrym, the first home of all dwarves.  Wulfgar searches for his daughter, and takes his final leave of his Companions, returning to Icewind Dale and the Elk tribe that raised him.

In Pirate King we’re taken back to Luskan and Captain Deudermont, trying to save the city from the pirate lords who rule it and are about ready to overthrow the ruling hierarchy of wizards.  Didn’t like this one very much.  Drizz’t sets out to save everyone, and saves no one in the end.

Ghost King was better.  It brought all the characters from all three series back (Drizz’t, Sellswords, and Cleric Quintet), and despite the fact that this is the book where everything is tossed upside down and Catti-Brie dies, I enjoyed it.  All the characters are faced with the power of the crystal shard once more, and work together to destroy it once and for all.  Bittersweet ending all around, but a worthwhile read.

And there you have it folks!  Aside from the most recent incarnations of the Drizz’t Saga, Neverwinter, Charon’s Claw and The Last Threshold , you know just as much as I do.  From here on we’ll be taking the new adventure with Drizz’t and his friends together when each new book comes out.  I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the journey.

Save

Advertisements