Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Dark Elf Trilogy, By R.A. Salvatore

The Dark Elf Trilogy is the first three books of Salvatore's Forgotten Realms series. It includes the books Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn. It is in the style of "Dungeons and Dragons," which makes it very familiar as far as the type of abilities, items, and races you might expect to see. Being a huge fan of Fantasy, I really enjoyed this novel. It included everything you would expect from a "Dungeons and Dragons" fantasy book…sword fights, dragons, good and evil, yet it starts in a rather unexpected way.

The main character, Drizzt comes from a rather backwards society. Evil and hatred are the norm in his city of Menzoberranzan. As the third male child of a noble family, his destiny was to be sacrificed upon birth. In the female dominated Dark Elf society, men's lives are of very little worth. A twist of fate changes his course and he is allowed to live.

Drizzt's childhood experiences challenge his thinking. Should he dawn the evil mantle of his society? His father, Zaknafien, teaches Drizzt swordplay and he becomes perhaps the greatest warrior in his city. However, Zaknafien also plants the seeds of doubt in Drizzt's mind about the morality of their culture. As Drizzt struggles with his conscience and the challenges of his society, it comes down to a culminating moment where he must decide between submitting himself to the will of his people or saving a young elf child. He inevitably chooses to save the elf child and his life is turned upside down. He becomes outcast from his people and later hunted. The other races shun and fear him because of the reputation his people have earned. Drizzt's only friend for much of his journeys is Guenhwyvar, a black panther from another plane of existence. Even Guenhwyvar is able to spend little time with Drizzt, needing to return often to its own plane for sustenance. Drizzt struggles to do what he believes to be right while facing searing loneliness and despair.

What I enjoyed most about these books was the look at the great beauty that emerged from such a dark society. It is so easy to blame our actions on our circumstances. Drizzt is a true underdog, yet rose above and allowed his integrity to set his course. Despite the pain it costs him, he never once looks back on his decision with regret... only sorrow. I also enjoyed the amazing picture of the underdark, particularly the city Menzoberranzen. I think perhaps the most beautiful moments in the book were the rare moments when Drizzt felt loved. The only thing I didn’t really like was the overly detailed sword fights. I am not a big fan of strategy and maneuvers so I usually skimmed past these parts, but in spite of that, I found it an excellent book, well worth the read.

4 Stars
4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 stars

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