Exile, R.A. Salvatore

51MHC5A5MHLThree days and I’ve finished the second book in the Dark Elf Trilogy – Exile by R.A. Salvatore. As when I first read through this series over a decade ago now, I’m devouring these novels like there is no tomorrow. However, the big difference between when I read these novels before and reading them now is I read every line with an author’s eye. I’m always watching to see how the author is doing what he/she is doing on the page. I’m seeing how the feelings are being shown, how the characters are being described, and why I’m getting so damned connected to them.

Exile picks up ten years after Homeland. Drizzt has survived in the Underdark all these long years. But in surviving, he’s lost sight of what made him so different from the other drow – his principles and honor. He realizes this and befriends a svirfneblin, or a deep gnome. But not all is well, as Matron Malic Do’Urden, his wicked mother, hunts him in order to regain Lolth’s favor. The ensuing adventures take Drizzt throughout the Underdark in an attempt to avoid his vengeful kin. And by the end of the novel, he has come to the realization that he must flee the Underdark and make for the surface, where he will hopefully be able to escape the Spider Queen’s wrath.

The novel is right up there with Homeland, with Drizzt finally learning what true friendship and loyalty means. And these first friendships that he makes with Belwar and Clacker foreshadow the greater friendships that are to come with the Companions of the Hall.

While the novel is well written, the pacing seemed a little off for me, slowing a bit too much with the chase through the Underdark. It was a bit too much cat and mouse for my tastes, but in the end, the payoff was worth it. Still earns this book a solid 4/5.

I’m taking a break from Drizzt while I wait for Soujourn to arrive at the library. So instead, I’ll be reading Jim Butcher’s The Aeronauts Windlass.

Homeland, R.A. Salvatore

Have you ever picked up an old favorite and reread it? It’s like reuniting with an old friend and wondering why you ever stopped talking.

Homeland2I had that wonderful experience this past week rereading Salvatore’s Homeland. Now, my brother recently got me a signed copy of his Cleric Quintet, the first series I read of Salvatore’s. And it’s still one of my favorites. But by far my favorite character of Salvatore’s, maybe even of all time, is Drizzt Do’Urden. This noble drow swordsman who has sparked a long running series of novels, graphic novels and game characters.

Homeland was written after the first introduction of Drizzt in the Icewind Dale Trilogy. This novel focuses on Drizzt early years in Menzoberranzan, drow city located in the Underdark. It’s an evil, chaotic city filled with all kinds of creatures who are raised to do nothing but scheme and murder. But Drizzt is unique in that he has none of the murderous desires for power that his brethren have. The novel follows him from early childhood through his schooling, both at home under the matriarchal society and in the warrior school of Melee-Magthere, and eventually to his refusal of drow society and escape into the Underdark.

The novel was a quick read but a very enjoyable one for me. Part of that comes from my love of Drizzt Do’Urden as a character. But another part comes from my fascination with the drow. These creatures who seem so strange in their evil ways but I can’t help but like. In fact, thinking back now, the drow played a large role in my conception of the shedim in my own novel. But more on that another day.

All-in-all, I give Homeland a 5/5, equal parts nostalgia and just good, fun writing and reading.

On Getting an MFA

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a month since I finished up my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. The two and a half years that I spent working on that degree have been so worth it. I’ve learned so much from the amazing mentors and friends about writing and living and being a professional writer. If you are serious about writing and really want to get that degree, I highly recommend this program.

12496427_10153899211738708_4351290130595776776_oI’ve taken a little hiatus from the website but I’m back. And now that I’m done with graduate school, the question I’ve gotten from family members, colleagues and students is what’s next?

Well, now comes the arduous process of finding a publisher for Sentinel’s Soul. More info on the book and the process in a later post. I’ve also started work on book two, tentatively titled Sentinel’s Blood. I had forgotten how great it was to experience pure creation. Right now, I’ve got permission to write badly and just get the story down on the page. It’s liberating and terrifying at the same time but is also part of the reason that I love to write.

I’ve also begun thinking about teaching at the college level. Just a class here and there to expand my CV and get some on the ground experience teaching creative writing. Fingers crossed that it will work out.

Also, it’s been wonderful to read for the sheer pleasure of it again. Already finished up Jim Butcher’s Fool Moon and working on one of my favorites, R. A. Salatore’s “Homeland”.

So here’s to a new year! May your writing be inspired and your life fulfilling. I’ll end with a tattoo of a close family member, done in honor of her grandfather.