Think of it as Drowfellas
. Backstabbing and internecine intrigue abound as the ambitious members of a shady organization (in this case, the dark-elf mercenary band Bregan D'aerthe) vie for power, struggle to fend off reprisals, and generally cause all sorts of trouble. Themes of redemption and moral metamorphosis keep the plot moving, accompanied by intermittent bursts of spectacular, cinematic violence.
The Servant of the Shard, the immediate follow-up to The Spine of the World and The Silent Blade, is the long-awaited exposition on the history of Artemis Entreri. But perhaps more importantly, Servant of the Shard brings us the brilliant, bang-up pairing of master assassin Entreri and Bregan D'aerthe godfather Jarlaxle, filling out a deadly triangle with the bloodthirsty artifact Crenshinibon. (The rest--more magic items, tons of cool spells and psionics thanks to Rai-guy and Kimmuriel Oblodra, cameos from The Cleric Quintet, and a blow-out finale with an ancient red dragon--well, that's all just icing on the cake.)
The big question, which hopefully won't have to be asked again after this title: Can Bob Salvatore really pull off another Drizzt Do'Urden book without Drizzt? Without a doubt. Anybody who wasn't won over by the Wulfgar-centric Spine of the World should come away more than satisfied with The Servant of the Shard. Grumbling and hammer-hurling (courtesy of Wulfgar) might not be your thing, but Drizzt does have an equal in Entreri when it comes to perplexed introspection and predictably dazzling swordplay. If nothing else, Salvatore is merely collecting on investments he's made in his previous 17 Forgotten Realms novels--after laying such a strong foundation with solid plots and characterizations, it should come as no surprise that we're instantly sucked into a story that brings a couple of formerly supporting characters to front stage center. --Paul Hughes
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.