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Gauntlgrym: Neverwinter Saga, Book I (The Legend of Drizzt 20) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 352 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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It's been a really long time since I picked of a Drizzt book. I read the first one in the 90's and fell in love. I flew threw the books and loved the companions. But the reality for an elf is that they live a really long time. It's one thing to know in theory, but Salvatore does a great job showing how almost all of his friends that aren't either elf or dwarf have died of old age. It's had a real impact on the character and he's dealing with his own feelings of whether anything he's done has been for anything. He's questioning his values. And he's mostly just going on this Lord of the Rings style adventure as a means of going through the motions with one of his only remaining friends rather than because he truly believes in whatever the quest is. A lot of readers seemed to really dislike the concept of the book and the fact that the writer moves forward through decades of time in the first few chapters until virtually everyone Drizzt knows is dead, but I thought it was perfect especially since it's been so long since I've spent any time with the character. It was almost like getting a reintroduction with more added depth.
What I liked best of the novel is Bruenor's character development. Drizzt's behavior is also imbued with realism. I know there will be reviewers who will bring up the whininess of Drizzt and how he shoulda, woulda, coulda have completed that 6 step acceptance program 50 years ago. Readers forget that this character is at most a young adult in Drow Elf years and is not going to have human reactions.
The other positive aspects of this book was the inclusion of Jarlaxle and Arthrogate. Jarlaxle is another Forgotten Realms favorite. He has this All the World's a Stage outlook. He seems to forgive everything if you are an interesting person. Here's hoping there will be more back story on him. Arthrogate provides the periodic comic relief of "Bwahaha!" Sometimes it is needed in this story. There are demonic cultists and Pompeiian blasts wreaking havoc and holocausts. So, good for Arthrogate to lighten things up a bit.
There are the new characters; Dahlia and a Tifleing, Herzgo Alegni. They are both interesting and hope to see them in future books. Dahlia, without spoiling anything, will probably be in future Drizzt novels. Then there was Barrabus the Gray. I was thinking, "Is this You Know Who?".
There are the trademark fight scenes that will gladden many Drizzt fans. On the other side of the coin there is character development and interaction. These should satisfy many who have liked other Drizzt books.
In today's fantasy market there now has to be the obligatory vampire character and zombies. "Gauntlgrym" had this as well. This was neither a positive nor a negative to myself.
If someone wants to read this book,Realms of the Dead: A Forgotten Realms Anthology (The Haunted Lands), a sort story omnibus is a good place to start. There is a short story by RAS that clears up some questions at the beginning of "Gauntlgrym".
The bad: Like another reviewer posted, time skips. A lot of time is covered in this book. The words "half a century ago" appear quite often. That leads into my next critique, it felt short. The book had many avenues that could have added more meat to this instead of copping out by using the aforementioned time skips. Finally we still have no idea where Regis and Catti Brie are. (I don't think its where they want to be but I could be wrong.)
Bottom line: It is an epic tail that covers many years and brings numerous changes to the Forgotten Realms. Characters come and go, but for the most part do so in epic fashion. If this book was 10,000 pages I would still want more but that is the curse and blessing of RAS's work. If you are a Drizzt fan you will definitely read this and enjoy it, but haters are gonna hate so take my advice and read this book.
Now on to my review...
I just finished this book and like many of Salvatore's readers have an almost family like attachment to the Companions of the Hall. Changes occur and lives are altered. The story flows a little awkwardly with its time skips but the underlying theme is still there and written well. Certainly better than some previous works, (IMO The Ghost King) but it feels somewhat short. This was also my biggest critique of The Ghost King, but a lot of ground and time are covered in this book. RAS could easily have engaged and mesmerized the reader with at least 200 more pages of content and still ended where he did, but he doesn't. In fact towards the end of the book (which is action packed) I grew worried and somewhat disheartened that the read was drawing to an end. But over all we always want more, but for some reason have to settle for less.
Beyond that complaint I have to say there are several new characters that are added, some old ones return, and some that exit. This is the exciting yet harsh reality of being a long running story that spans many centuries. In typical fashion the book jumps from group to group covering landscapes far and wide all seemingly independent of one another yet all building up to a head where they all collide. The conclusion is somewhat definitive, but the end foreshadows the next chapter in Drizzt's life, yet raises questions about the afterlife. (I have no idea if the forest where Regis and Catti Brie reside can be called heaven, but at the end of this story I question whether that is the case.) And after reading The Collected Stories, I really wonder why the characters end up there. ***SPOILER ALERT*** I mean if Wulfgar doesn't go to the halls of Tempus and another favorite dwarf doesn't go to the halls of Dumathoin, they seem to be in some sort of limbo or purgatory. (Help me out here please) They also seem to have no say in the matter, and yet they can be seen by the living! Which either foreshadows some sort of Wulfgar like comeback or a reunion then eventual separation to their own heavens.
Either way the book is amazing, it was hard for me to put it down and I cannot wait for the next installment in this saga.