Sojourn: A Story of Acceptance

Sojourn2Well, I finished the third book in the Dark Elf Trilogy – Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore. And I have to say, once again, I forgot how much I enjoyed this series and it feels so good to come back to it.

However, coming back this time around has brought many new revelations. As we as readers experience life, it undoubtedly changes the way we experience novels. We learn from our interactions with people and form new ideas and beliefs. That alone should be all the reason to support rereading books. You never know what will speak to you.

Sojourn details Drizzt’s first years on the surface. He wanders around, not knowing the language or the region. Heck, he doesn’t even know about seasons and nearly freezes during his first winter. He also makes new friends and learns how to be a ranger. And by the end of the novel, he comes to a semblance of truce with Bruenor Battlehammer, who is one of the main characters and one of Drizzt’s best friend.

But at heart, this book is about acceptance, both of self and from other people, something that appeals to me greatly as I focus on similar topics within my own writing. Drizzt wants nothing more than to be accepted on the surface world and have a place to call his own, friends to call his own, and a life of meaning.

He says:

It would happen suddenly, I imagined. I would approach a gate, speak a formal greeting, then reveal myself as a dark elf… Suspicions would linger about me for many months, but in the end, principles would be seen and accepted for what they were; the character of the person would outweigh the color of his skin and the reputation of his heritage.

This is a powerful passage in the novel. It’s something that Drizzt greatly desires and something that we all want as well. At least that’s what I hope. But in the light of recent events in our country, from police brutality to violent protestors to the bigotry and racism of certain political figures, I think we could all hope for a little more compassion and understanding. There’s more to Drizzt Do’Urden than his skin tone and there’s more to the people around us as well. We just need to take a moment to put aside our prejudices and listen a little.

Once again, a great novel. I give it a 4.5/5.

Coming up, I’ll start on the Icewind Dale Trilogy, the next three books in Drizzt’s journey.


The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Part 2

Well, folks, when I left you last, we were about halfway through Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass. You can read my review of the first half here. Now that I’ve finished the second half, I can say with absolute certainty that I will be keeping up with this series.

The second half of the book was a lot of investigation into the enemies of Albion. Characters are running around, looking for clues and fighting monsters. And it’s all well paced, so that you are wanting to keep reading at the end of the chapter.

The romance sub plot develops and has an excellent ending. We also see Gwen finally mature a bit. And we get a hint at some far greater evil enemy that will no doubt come to bear in the sequels.

But the best part for me, and perhaps the part I was most looking forward to, happens at the climax. We finally get to see an aerial battle. I’ve always enjoyed reading these and would have been very disappointed if Butcher hadn’t delivered on the unspoken promise to feature one. There’s lots of cannon fire and aerial acrobatics to keep you intrigued for the last fifty or so pages. It was exhilarating and I found my own heart speeding up with the ebb and flow of battle, a difficult task with the number of battle scenes I’ve read over the years.

And Butcher ends the novel well, which is a difficult task to accomplish. We are left knowing that evil is coming and that bad things are going to happen. And because we are connected to  the characters now, we will have to follow them into their futures. Very excited for the sequel when it comes. I give this novel a solid 4/5.

The next read will be Salvatore’s Sojourn, Book 3 in the Dark Elf Trilogy. Stay tuned for a review.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Part 1

519T2WI7QgL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_When I was growing up, I remember Treasure Planet coming out and loving it. I read Treasure Island as a kid and it was okay, but this new idea that the ships were in space and flying through the air, with aliens and what not, completely set my imagination going.

That same joy of pirates and ships flying through the air naturally drew me to Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass. I’ve only read a couple of Butcher’s Dresden Files and thought they were pretty decent, having heard my work compared it his from many friends and colleagues. But I am happy to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

I’ve decided to split my review up into two parts. This is really a large book, over 600 pages. And to be honest, I’m only halfway through it. (Remember, I’ve also go
a full time job, writing, and being a father. Reading happens, just slower than I’d like some times.)

The novel is firmly rooted in the steampunk genre, with interesting gauntlets that shoot etherium and ships powered by steam and ethereal winds. There are warriorborn characters who have lion blood in them. And there are talking cats, which was pretty neat.

The book was a bit of a slow start for me. I really like to jump in and get to the action quick, but with 600 plus pages, I could understand taking a little more time. Butcher takes the time to craft some very interesting characters who you come to really root for. Captain Grimm is by far my favorite, this stoic captain of the Predator. He runs a tight ship, as they say, but he has a past that we don’t quite understand but I am excited to learn more about as the book progresses. The other main character of the main cast is Gwen Lancaster. Gwen is a very naive and confident noble. Her character is the one that I hope to see the most growth in as I read more. She is very sure of her ways and it gets her into a lot of trouble. But she’s also just turned 18 and we can all remember having that confidence at that age.

The book has many aspects that would appeal to all kinds of readers, from steampunk to mystery to military, even a little romance is starting to develop. I highly recommend it so far, at least the first half. We shall see how things go though.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and my final thoughts on the novel. Until then, here’s a photo of a tattoo a friend of mine has, wishing you all a beautiful life.

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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.