R.A. Salvatore has done it again.  For those unfamiliar with this classic series of "boy fiction" Drizzt Do'Urden is the dark elf hero that has starred in a long string of fantasy masterpieces by author R.A. Salvatore.  Twenty-one books later the Legend of Drizzt epic is still not running out of steam.  In the first book of the newest trilogy, Neverwinter, an older though not impeccably wiser, Drizzt sets off with his long-time friend the dwarf king Breunor Battlehammer on an adventure to find a lost Dwarven city, the titular Gauntlgrym.  Unexpectedly a different dwarf and dark elf pair - Salvatore anti-heroes Jarlaxle and Athrogate - are first on the scene; and not surprisingly, mischief and mayhem erupt leading all four to team up - along with a newly introduced elfish warrior named Dahlia - to find the treasure and save the world. 

Though the plot borders on cliche, and was arguably used in one of Salvatore's earliest books Streams of Silver, Gauntlgrym adds a fresh twist and a new element of danger and conflict.  This isn't the book to start with for those jumping into The Legend of Drizzt (Homeland or The Crystal Shard is the way to go) but this is a book for those that enjoy the deep fantasy setting and are already acquainted with the characters.  With a fast-forwarding of time only possible in a book with protagonists known to live for hundreds of years, ties are cut from past generations and rather than an awkward transition coming out of the tearful ending of Salvatore's previous novel The Ghost King, Gauntlgrym is able to start on a rather clean slate.

I both loved and hated this setup for the book.  On the one hand, I enjoyed that Salvatore was turning over a new leaf and embarking on a new phase of the Drizzt saga.  However, the way that time was jumped in the book provided a shaky start to the story.  Salvatore has always been an expert at writing emotion for his main characters so beginning the tale with old grief and buried scars rather than nursing raw wounds seemed an odd choice.  Once the time frame of the adventure was settled into, the narrative took shape into what every Salvatore fan expects - sweeping battle scenes, grand adventures, and inner character conflict leading to growth.  Dahlia was a fascinating new companion to the saga as well.  Her story composed some of the most dramatic segments of the novel and with aspects of both heroine and villain within her character she promises to be an intriguing addition to future books in the series. Overall, this may not be Salvatore's greatest book, but it's still highly engaging and entertaining - and definitely a must read for those that love his style and his heroes

5 Response to "Gauntlgrym"

  1. Rebecca says:
    April 27, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    I've been meaning to read something by R.A. Salvatore! What other of his books would you recommend? :)

  2. lisa :) says:
    April 27, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Homeland is one of my all time favorite books (of any genre) but lots of readers new to the Drizzt saga prefer to start with The Crystal Shard (Story-wise Homeland comes first but it was written after The Icewind Dale Trilogy that begins with The Crystal Shard)

    Outside the Forgotten Realms/Dungeons & Dragons world, Salvatore's Demon Wars series - which begins with The Demon Awakens - is also excellent. Some of his other works (The Spearweilder's Tales, Saga of the First King) are still on my TBR list but hopefully I'll be blogging about them later this year!

  3. Anonymous Says:
    April 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I'm a tad wary of epic fantasy but I've been curious about Salvatore so I should probably look into starting with Homeland, huh?

  4. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    April 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    This series does sound interesting, but 21 books? I don't think I have it in me! I started Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series a few years back but only made it to number six or seven before unfortunatley giving up.

  5. lisa :) says:
    May 3, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Stephanie - If you do try out Homeland I hope you enjoy it! I know fantasy isn't for everyone, but it definitely is a genre I enjoy.

    TL - 21 books is quite a commitment but I think I read the first one circa 1993 so spread over almost two decades it's been rather evenly paced. And I started Jordan's series but never finished it. I suppose one Jordan book would be the equivalent of about three of Salvatore's so page-wise the series are probably around the same length.

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