#016 Homeland by RA Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy Book 1)
Read 14/10/19 to 16/10/19
It had to happen, well.. this is by far the best novel that I have read so far during this endeavour. It was all the things I suspected it to be and a bit more besides- Menzoberranzan now exists as a place for me, the Drow a race- sure, I'd read bits and pieces here and there. I grew up DMing the GDQ series- we never got as far as Q, I think the various PCs in-game died so many times during the course of the D series that the players just kinda gave up. I think we switched to recording ourselves playing Bloodbowl for the rest of the summer- it was less violent. So, I've DMed Drow… but now I know how to do it better.
I'm not going to tell you what's in this book, you're going to have to read it- it's well worth the effort, read the series. If you want to play a Drow… then do it, if you're a DM and your #1 villain is a Drow then read the first two books. Matron Malice has got your back.
Every character my friend Stu plays on an interminable number of online computer RPGs is Drizzt, I bumped in to Stu about six weeks ago- his brother (one of my first DMs) is a massive LARPing guy. Stu had just been to a LARP-fair, he proudly told me that he had bought himself a cloak, sorry- Piwafwi. He's 45 years of age- married, and does something with computers (ain't it always the way), and he still thinks his Drizzt.
Drizzt is his hero.
Incidentally Stu also has a garage full of bottled water and tinned food, y'know for the forth coming apocalypse- he got me a bottle of Potassium Iodide tablets for Christmas a few years back (for the fallout), so... don't take everything he says as gospel.
But it's that kind of book, that kind of series- particularly books 1 & 2, you could go looking for a cracking adventure and by mistake bump in to a hero. Don't get me wrong. I'm a DM- not a player, but if I played again... he's an interesting feller that Drizzt.
Drow Ranger you say, twin scimitars, inner turmoil and a magic cat. I'm sold.
And don't try to stop me- when I'm done with this list I'm going to go back and read this series again.
Homeland is, to date, the only Forgotten Realms novel I've read. I'm not opposed to reading more, just have had too much else on my reading list. I definitely enjoyed it, though. Hoping this thread can give me recommendations on which of the other novels are worthwhile.
I'd definitely recommend finishing the series- Homeland, Exile & Sojourn. Exile is as good as Homeland, while Sojourn is a different thing- lack of underdark and Menzo, but equally worthy- if only to finish the story (the blind Ranger is way too cool). Exile brought a tear to my eye, and none of the other novels on this list have managed that so far.
#017 Exile by RA Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy Book 2)
Read 17/10/19 to 18/10/19
Book 2- "Zin-Carla!" Bloody hell they don't mess about these Drow- Drizzt has done a runner what shall we do? I know let's dig up his dead Sword Master Dad and send him after the lad. As I say- bloody hell, of course it ends badly for Matron Malice but the flavour of treachery I'll leave for you to discover. Murder- keep it in the family, that's the Drow way.
So, Drizzt in the Underdark trying to survive, to find a place and a way of living- someone to accept him for who he is rather than the way he looks (a familiar tale some would say- particularly in these most modern of times). Then we get to Blingdenstone, and I'll admit it (I'm a big lad) but even get choked up once or twice as I'm reading the novel, Belwar Dissengulp- you are a giant amongst Deep Gnomes. I think it's because while Drizzt has kept on going- no matter what flavour of terror besets him, you just want the poor lad to catch a break. Belwar is the break, a break from the terror but better still... someone to trust, and without the complications imposed by Drow society. Belwar gets closer to being a father figure (perhaps) to Drizzt than Zaknafein ever could (again, mainly due to the Drow way of doing things- living the lie).
Magga cammara! The two broken loners find a way to fix each other- a fair swap.
Then of course dead-Zak catches up with Drizzt (and Belwar) and thereafter full-speed ahead, the pair get the hell out of dodge (Blingdenstone) and the chase is on. There follows some daft bits- Clacker and the Wizard, some crazy (good) bits- the Dire Corbies, and most especially the Mind Flayers (they sit in comfortable armchairs, I love that- I'm now picturing an Illithid version of my Nan- with a used tissue hanging out of her sleeve and knitting with her face-tentacles). Then there's pretty much just the finale to work through, and then the consequences of Malice's defeat. It's all gone Pete Tong (wrong) for House Do'Urden.
#018 Sojourn by RA Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy Book 3)
Read 18/10/19 to 21/10/19
Book 3- and I don't want to start by saying it's not as good as the first two, but... it's not, it's still great- and in the top five I've read so far in this list (although I'm only up to 18 so far). Drizzt hits the surface, and of course he doesn't know his place, or how to find a place for himself (no matter how small) in society. So, he survives, and that's enough for a while- then after watching a farming family, and all the while wanting to do the right thing, to say something... well, something bad happens. Something bad involving a pair of Barghest whelps, a handful of Gnolls, a Hill Giant, a pesky Quickling and a nasty human hunter, which is plenty of bad things to be going on with. Of course it all goes very wrong, and the Drow is to blame... Drizzt flees the scene.
Then, at last, the good guy- Montolio (the blind-ninja-Ranger), although the watching Elves are pretty up there too, and Drizzt does something more than survive for a while- he finds a place for himself, a role. He can't see too far in to the future, which is odd- because his new found boon companion the aged and blind Montolio can. We get some nice Orc, Worg and Stone Giant action- and still the nasty bastard human hunter in the background, stirring the pot. Eventually, Drizzt (once again) has to move on...
The last section of the novel, with Drizzt on the road again, bodyguard (sorta) for some crazy self-harming Monks. I kept thinking of the Monty Python Monks that smash themselves in the face with great tomes as they walk and chant. This bit is not the best bit- the Drow is more than a little fortunate in the ancient Red Dragon encounter, and some of it kinda bursts the bubble (for me).
Part of the problem is I am so connected to the D&D world that when I'm reading these books I'm thinking of them in game terms. Wrong thing to do, I know- but D&D is my bridge to the fantasy fiction Forgotten Realms mythos, so I tend to judge the books not just as stories but as potential gameplay. Please keep in mind before I set out to read these novels I had read very little Forgotten Realms fiction (and none of the novels). I had only read what I needed to know, mostly in the sidebars and the text of various modules and supplements. This really is my first look at the Realms.
Back to Sojourn- some of it I just don't buy, the recurring villain is a bastard but stupid, and angry all the time, and ultimately weak. There's less threat, the action is much better earlier in the piece. I want the good Ranger to hunt Drizzt, to finally figure out the Drow is the good guy (or at least no threat) at the end. The two need to go head-to-head time and again, until finally Drizzt has to come clean, start talking- explain his quandary and then, finally, be accepted- or else prove himself somehow.