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Charon's Claw: Neverwinter Saga, Book III Hardcover – August 7, 2012
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In the 3rd book of the #4 New York Times best-selling Neverwinter Saga, Drizzt draws his swords once more to aid his friends. His lover, Dahlia Sin’felle, can speak of nothing but the moment she will face the Netherese lord Herzgo Alegni once again. Drizzt has already followed a trail of vengeance beside Dahlia. Can he justify one more battle to settle a grudge he does not understand? Artemis Entreri too seeks vengeance. He offers to aid Dahlia in her mission to destroy Alegni. But Charon’s Claw, Alegni’s sentient sword, dominates Entreri’s movements—if not his mind. And then there’s the way Entreri looks at Dahlia. Can Drizzt trust his old foe?
Praise for the Neverwinter Saga:
“Emotional, respectful of its characters, intelligently written and structured, and finally summons a sense of nostalgic sorrow throughout”–Fantasy Book Review on Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter Saga Book I
“Full of excitement. Salvatore has mastered the art of showing a beautiful fight scene, and he is at the top of his game in this one. We meet many characters with many different fighting styles, and Salvatore does a great job of distinguishing between them. He manages to take these scenes from so much more than just a fight scene, to an integral part of the story.”—The SFF Hub on Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter Saga Book I
“A quick read with some very satisfying fight scenes. It’s also deeply layered with emotional atmosphere” —California Literary Review on Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter Saga Book I
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Charon’s Claw, the legendary sentient sword which serves as the namesake for the third book in the Neverwinter quartet, made its first appearance in Servant of the Shard (The Sellswords, Book I):
The sword had a slender, razor-edged, gleaming red blade, its length inscribed with designs of cloaked figures and tall scythes, accentuated by a black blood trough running along its center. Entreri opened his hand enough for the wizard to see the skull-bobbed pommel, with a hilt that appeared like whitened vertebrae. Running from it toward the crosspiece, the hilt was carved to resemble a backbone and rib-cage, and the crosspiece itself resembled a pelvic skeleton, with legs spread out wide and bent back toward the head, so that the wielder’s hand fit neatly within the “bony” boundaries. All of the pommel, hilt and crosspiece was white, like bleached bones--perfectly white, except for the eye sockets of the skull pommel, which seemed like black pits at one moment and flared with red fires the next.
“I am pleased with the prize I earned,” Entreri admitted. Rai-guy stared hard at the sword, but his gaze inevitably kept drifting towardthe other, less-obvious treasure: the black, red-stitched gauntlet on Entreri’s hand.
“Such weapons can be more of a curse than a blessing, human,” the wizard remarked. “They are possessed of arrogance, and too often does that foolish pride spill over into the mind of the wielder, to disastrous result.”
Artemis Entreri reflects on the power of the blade, in this never-before-published scene below, followed by R.A. Salvatore’s thoughts on the power that weapons of legend hold over readers--and himself.
“Are you the stronger?” Artemis Entreri whispered as he felt Charon’s Claw’s balance and its strength. Could he control the tremendous will of such a blade? He thought of the many women who had wondered the same of him. They thought they could understand him, even “fix” him. They were gone and he remained.
He recalled a wizard he once knew, young and proud, reaching into the Weave of magic recklessly, convinced that he alone could pull from it powers greater than the arch-mages. Entreri winced as he recalled the charred remains of that silly boy, smoke red and purple wafting from his shrunken corpse.
But better that the boy had never tried? To what end? To live a life of the mundane, another prestidigitator in a world of tricksters? Artemis Entreri was many things, but not mundane. He held up the shining blade and studied the threat of the etched figures and their death scythes.
Entreri smiled. Charon’s Claw was his . . . possibility, his dream and his nightmare. But he soon came to know that to make the nightmare end, he must abandon, too, the dream.
Ah, the weapons of legend. They are not merely items in a tale of adventure, oh no. They are characters, with all the promise of past feats or future glory that one might see in the secret lineage of an unwitting protagonist or in the hopes and dreams fostered by the muscles of a budding warrior or the cunning of a young wizard’s apprentice. It’s that simple. Whether an ancient sword, forged in magic lost to the world and thus holding the promise of deeper strengths and secrets, or the creation of a warhammer wrapped into the storyline of the present heroic tale, to the reader, the weapon will have an identity of its own, a possibility full of dread or glory.
An ancient artifact ties the story to the mysterious past; a new-forged one hints that the present will not be forgotten in centuries to come.
Excalibur, Andúril, Stormbringer, the Mace of Cuthbert, the Wand of Orcus . . .
And Aegis-fang. I cannot forget that one! When I was writing The Crystal Shard all those years ago, I hadn’t intended to include a scene of Bruenor forging the warhammer, but the joy of writing is to let the story take you on its own journey. My road led me to Bruenor’s forge, and I watched, fascinated, as he created the warhammer. I hadn’t even thought of it before I started writing, but when I began, I found that I couldn’t stop. I felt the scene, viscerally. The image of Aegis-fang came clear to me. I could feel the heat of the forge and see the intensity in Bruenor’s eyes. When that happens, a writer knows he’s onto something good. Fortunately, most readers agreed.
These are more than weapons and artifacts. They are stories unto themselves. If you’re writing a fantasy novel or designing a video game or DM’ing a Dungeons & Dragons session, give a player a +2 sword and study her expression. Perhaps a nod, as she adjusts her statistics to account for the numerical upgrade. Perhaps a groan of disappointment, because she already has a +2 sword.
Now give someone else a Glamdring and watch his eyes light up. You have just opened the door of possibility.
--R.A. Salvatore, July 2012
- Publisher : Wizards of the Coast; First Edition (August 7, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0786962232
- ISBN-13 : 978-0786962235
- Item Weight : 1.52 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.32 x 1.31 x 9.49 inches
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The series and this book are an interesting and in depth look into the world post spell plague. Neverwinter is rising from the ashes, Szass Tam is still doing whatever it is he is doing (Good luck, Szass, but I think your thousand years is running out too fast to save you) and the Shadovar are still obsessed with...something. I've never been clear on exactly why they are farting around in the woods, beyond battling the Ashmadi, who are for some reason working for Szass Tam...I hope there is a book with Asmodeus and Szass Tam.
The three, Dahlia/Drizzt/Entreri adventure back to Neverwinter, fighting off bounty hunters and a snake that is really an Aboleth just chillin' in the sewers doing Aboleth stuff, involving getting some slaves and chillin' in the sewers. They make it to Alegni, who is actually waiting for them, due to spies telling him so, so he can solo fight them for some reason, I think it's because he is actually a badass.
So Alegni is roflstomping Dahlia, while the Claw is somehow controlling Entreri to fight Drizzt (which is confusing because I thought it was established it can't mind control Entreri and instead just causes him pain and reads his moves/intentions).
Anyway, Gwenhwyvar chases around the deformed warlock, Effron and keeps him from the fight. Surprisingly, this isn't a decisive victory. Entreri somehow breaks control because Drizzt refuses to fight and is like "Don't stab me bro!" and with this Deus Ex Machina Entreri frees himself and he and Dahlia start beating Alegni down, and Poof! He escapes like the rascal he is. The rest of the Shadovar retreat and Neverwinter is free of a fighting force that could protect them and literally had little to no negative impact on their lives beyond having Alegni as a leader (Bad) and a bridge with a new name (Inconsequential). Seriously, the Shadovar didn't appear to want anything but to control Neverwinter as a base to fight off the Ashmadi, who are crazy anyway.
Drizzt recovers the Claw, the sword Entreri carried for so long, and they decide to go to Gauntylgrym to toss it into the Fire Primordial to destroy it. Entreri believes that the sword has been keeping him alive and that it's destruction will allow him to finally die, because being a supremely skilled and long lived badass with a hot elf chick girlfriend and skills that could earn him a fortune, not to mention is a hero in Neverwinter, a terrible fate now that he is free to do what he wants.
Throughout the adventure Dahlia and Entreri become close and Drizzt gets jealous enough to consider killing Entreri, supposedly because of the sword influencing him and of course not because Entreri and Dahlia make a good match and seem to get along very very well *wink wink*.
The ONLY thing I won't spoil for you is the side story/ main story addition regarding Guenhwyvar. I was actually a little mad about it, in a good way, because she is awesome (You think you know me...)
And more happens after that culminating with a fight between Alegni and the three. They go to Gauntylgrym, find some Drow. The Shadovar and the Drow duke it out and the final battle between the Three and Alegni comes to conclusion. But wait! The heavily forshadowed twist happens! If you don't figure it out in the first book then I am going to spoil it for you. Effron *drumroll* is the son of Dahlia and Algeni! DUN DUN DUNNNUNUNUNUNUN. No, seriously, I figured it out in like the first paragraph that Effron and Alegni interacted. Anyway. He swears revenge and Drizzt tosses the sword into the Primordial. And you'll have to read the book to learn the fate of Entreri (He doesn't die, he steals Drizzt's girl lol).
Alongside this is the interesting part of the story. Drow, in fact, major magical house Xoralin of Menzoberranzan, have discovered Gauntylgrym and are planning to take it over and make it a new city. I am not going to say anything about this story beyond that it makes the book palatable. I would skim the many many many fights of Drizzt, Entreri, Dahlia vs Equally skilled yet less skilled people just to get back to the Drow story. I'm not even going to give any of the story because it is awesome and I like it.
In quasi conclusion:
It was nice to see some closure for Dahlia and was fancy to watch Entreri actually do something beyond brood and kill things. Overall the story is engaging and you root for the characters, but still want to get back to the Drow and their interesting things that they do.
This book. This series. Heck, the whole series of books. I love them. I don't like Drizzt, or really any of the main characters. I just don't think Dahlia is a strongly developed enough character for her powers/abilities. She just appears out of nowhere and BOOM! she is as effective of a fighter as Drizzt. Athrogate effectively defeated Drizzt in a fight but suddenly he says he is a worse fighter than Dahlia? I think that they are weakly written, shorn up by conveniently amazing and improbable fighting ability. Athrogate, Jarlaxle, Pwent, Szass Tam, etc. They are the reason I keep coming back.
And a final rant on Drizzt (Cribbed from another post of mine)
Yes, he is still a force for good, and still lawful stupid with a little more introspection. He is still a one dimensional character who is still boring and full of angst about yet another issue. "Oh I am so confused and upset and such about my Homeland/ Feelings for Cattie Brie/ Friendship with Wulfgar/ Having kids with Cattie Brie/ Hate for Entreri/ Dahlia not being Cattie Brie/ Unicorns/ Breakfast/ Blah blah blah.
It's like the character can't exist without complaining and whining about SOMETHING. You would think being a quasi god mode character (Can 1v1 the Ghost King? Awesome...yeah...) would give him a little arrogance or confidence (Even if it just like "Well, you're a bad guy and I'm the god damned Drizzt" and then he beats down whomever is bothering him) some interesting character quirk, but nope, he walks around hissy fitting about any little thing he disagrees with (Screw trying to understand it, just whine in your diary) while sulking that the world isn't as black and white as he wants it to be.
Mostly the character seems to be a child when it comes to understanding the world. Yes, he is an amazing fighter/ranger/plot convenient berserker (Hunter mode), but you would think that as long as he has been alive, and as many losses as he has had he would be at least a little bit more jaded and world wise, instead of having to be instructed on the way of the world by almost literally every character he meets.
My wife and I like to Joke about how repetitive Salvatore is in terms of the various things that occupy the mental meanderings of many of the characters. But we enjoy them. I love them as they have been a part of my life for, what? Twenty years now? When did Crystal Shard Come out?
In this book Drizzt has two particular issues that while understandable to some degree are repeated so often as to make for a viable drinking game. One could flip to a random page and should one of those two themes be mentioned, one would have to drink. A group of folks would get drunk fast playing such a game I think.
I've read the book three times now and I think next time I read it I will count them up and update this review.
I normally just accept the fact that Drizzt, or whoever it might be at the time, has some particular problem and that is what occupies them. True to life, one would think about such issues often and in the same way. It doesn't always make for good reading however. I think Salvatore has gone overboard in that respect this time around. Nearly every scene with Drizzt has him thinking about one of the two issues, or both....over and over and over. All throughout the book. Salvatore has written almost the same thing every time as well. It's not as if the wording for these internal dialogs even changes significantly.
It's boring and annoying.
So there is that.
On the upside Salvatore has written some of the coolest scenes with Drizzt, and to a lesser degree Entreri, to date. Drizzt has some super cool action moments that have you re reading them just to solidify the picture in your head. Some things are written from other peoples perspectives, like, how Drizzt appears to them as things are happening. He is as awesome as ever.
I recommend the book on the strength of those few sequences alone.
The Entreri/Drizzt dynamic is as engaging as ever and also a real treat. I love it when they are in a scene together and the book fulfills on that front on many levels.....despite some of the repetitiveness. Throw in Dahlia and you have a fearsome triumvirate of precision and death for all who stand in their way. Great action as always and written slightly differently than is the norm for Salvatore.
Decent plot, lots of movement and character progression.
Towards the end a character says a line that (to me) is completely out of character (though that could be argued) and so completely cheesy and ridiculous as to make me laugh out loud at how hokey it was. It was just silly. I feel that I understand Salvatore's reasoning behind it, and again it does make some little bit of sense given the history. But it was just so bad. I have dreaded it while reading the book for the second and third times, knowing it was coming up.
The book is good overall though. If you like the other Forgotten Realms Salvatore books then you will like this one as well.
Top reviews from other countries
This book starts off where Neverwinter, Book 2 (Forgotten Realms) leaves off Drizzt and Dahlia Sin'felle going to confront Herzgo Alegni. On the way they fight through ambushes and even gain some unexpected allies. Meanwhile a Drow force has taken over Gauntlgrym. The Primordial within Gauntlgrym could be the only thing that might destroy Charon's Claw, the sword that enslaves Artemis Entreri.
This story is as much about redemption for some as it is of revenge for others. We get glimpses of the old Drizzt in this book. We see his warrior discipline tested to the max battling the influence of Charon's Claw. He is even faced with a huge moral dilemma. Showing his moral campus is still there. After you read the epilogue of this book I would recommend you read Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt - Neverwinter Tales (Dungeons & Dragons (Idw Hardcover)) this takes place right afterwards, I am sure it will lead in to The Last Threshold: Neverwinter Saga, Book IV .
But this one is even better. Especially the last chapters are nail biting "I need to read more". (finished it last night at 2am reading 5 hours straight without wanting to put it down).
This book while bit darker, has some really good laugh moments. Either way, Neverwinter Saga is one of the best series regarding Drizzt. A must read and looking forward for the last book.
The third part of the Neverwinter quartet is a great read and ties in nicely with the newly released Neverwinter MMORPG.