Salvatore’s Streams of Silver

So, I’m a few days late on this review, but it’s been a little hectic. See my post next week about my new writing schedule. But I’m happy to be able to talk about Salvatore’s Streams of Silver.

Streams of Silver, for me at least, seems like the typical second book in a trilogy. I’ve seen this a lot, where the second first book stands alone pretty well. Then the second book happens and draws you in to where you want to read the third book. Often times, the plot carries over, we meet more characters who will eventually carry onwards. And that’s totally okay. Just wanted to point that out.

The two best aspects of this book revolve around two characters, and since characters are the most important aspects of any novel, this makes sense.

The first is Cattie-brie. If you read my review of The Chrystal Shard, you’ll see I was a little (maybe more than a little) disappointed with her passivity and lack of agency in the first novel, being that she’s the only major female character. However, we see Cattie-brie coming into her own here in the second novel, no small part due to Artemis Entreri (I’ll get to him momentarily). While Cattie-bri doesn’t set out on the quest for Mithral Hall, she is dragged into it and finds that inner strength that makes her such a formidable and compelling character later in the series. So, I encourage any readers to power through the first novel with the understand that the contrast from where she starts to where she ends up is worth it.

The second character is Artemis Entreri. When someone asks me what my favorite part of a book is, I will often times say it was the villain. A strongly crafted antagonist, with just as many nuances as the protagonist, always catches my eye. And Artemis Entreri is just that. He is the mirror opposite of Drizzt, a warrior just as skilled with the sword but lacking the dark elf’s passions. And the great thing in the end is that they are nearly equally matched. Not to spoil too much for later books, but Artemis is constantly able to hold his own against Drizzt, which goes against the cliche good morals winning over bad ones.

The book, like I said, sets up for the third novel, with Drizzt and Wulfgar chasing after Entreri and Regis while Cattie-brie seeks to reclaim Mithral Hall in honor of her (believed) dead father, Bruenor.

I give this book a solid 3.75/5

The Crystal Shard

crystal shardI just finished Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard. I have to be honest, and you all know I’m a

huge fan of Salvatore from my previous reviews, but this book was a little less than what I remembered. But, I understand it in some sense. Here’s why.

The Crystal Shard was Salvatore’s first published novel. And like any author will tell you, that first book is always the worst. You can only go up from there and improve your craft. So it’s understandable that this book didn’t wow me as much as the Dark Elf Trilogy (the first three chronologically but published after The Icewind Dale Trilogy). The writing was eh, okay. The action was good but it lacked that polish and flash that I’ve come to expect from Salvatore. The plot was a little basic and predictable. But the novel did have a few redeeming qualities.

We get to meet some of the greatest characters we will ever see in Salvatore’s writing. We meet Bruenor, the battle tested dwarf king. We meet Wulfgar, a barbarian who’s life is spared by Bruenor and who learns the meaning of tolerance (more on that in a moment). We meet Regis, the halfling who at times holds everyone together. And of course, there’s Drizzt and his cat, Guenhwyvar. Although, word to the wise, when writing a series make sure that gender pronouns are consistent. Guen is referred to as a he in this novel, and a she in nearly all the others.

The character development is probably one of the better aspects of the novel. We see Bruenor growing fond of Wulfgar, who he will eventually adopt as his son. We see Wulfgar growing from his barbarian prejudices and becoming a strong leader. We even see Regis learning to trust his friends to an extent. Definitely helps pull the story along.

You may think I’ve forgotten a very important character – Cattie-brie. She is the warrior woman of the group, adopted daughter of Bruenor, who plays a large role in later books. I left her to the end because I was a little disappointed in this novel. She plays almost no role in what goes on, other than to tease Wulfgar and get her hurt during the battle for Ten-Towns. I was a little disturbed by the only significant female character in the novel playing such a small role. I’m excited to watch her character develop and look forward to seeing how Salvatore brings her to life like he has his male characters.

All in all, I say a 3.75/5. I’m taking a break from Salvatore for a moment to read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children next. Stay tuned.

Is there a book you want to see me review? Submit a request at kristopherlcampa@gmail.com

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.

 

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.