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The Crystal Shard After reading a chapter or two, I realized to my surprise that I have never actually read this first Salvatore novel before It s a strange experience, because I know the story of Drizzt so well from other books and other media, to the point that it feels like I must have read this previouslybut I definitely hadn t.Back when TSR published this novel in 1988, it was trying to distance itself from a lot of the pre existing gaming properties that it had published when Gary Gygax was running the After reading a chapter or two, I realized to my surprise that I have never actually read this first Salvatore novel before It s a strange experience, because I know the story of Drizzt so well from other books and other media, to the point that it feels like I must have read this previouslybut I definitely hadn t.Back when TSR published this novel in 1988, it was trying to distance itself from a lot of the pre existing gaming properties that it had published when Gary Gygax was running the company The company had had good success with the Dragonlance series, and so it d cast about, looking for other authors It had to get rid of the Gord the Rogue series, and in general wanted to cut off all ties with the old Greyhawk campaign setting The company chose Ed Greenwood s Forgotten Realms as the setting that would then become the default ADD game setting, and The Crystal Shard was the first attempt to engage gamers in the Realms as fiction Being disdainful of the change and contemptuous of the company s handling of Gary Gygax, I effectively boycotted most of this stuff, which I realize now is why I didn t read this when it was published It s a shame, because just like the Dragonlance books I probably would have enjoyed this book a great dealas a teenager.The story is pretty good, but it is clearly an outline of an ADD campaign, with the halfling thief Regis , dwarven fighter Bruenor , human barbarian Wulfgar , and dark elven ranger Drizzt as archetypal player characters Each character is given equal weight in the story, which feels strange in retrospect because Drizzt retroactively became the major protagonist in the repackaging of the book and its sequels the copy I read labels this as Legend of Drizzt volume four Drizzt is definitely not the main character in this book the party of PCs is The campaign is epic in scope, with the characters battling giants, employing large force tactics on the battlefield, casting spells, using magic items, slaying a dragon, collecting loot, defeating a dark wizard, banishing a demon, countering an evil artifact, and winning a war As far as I know, TSR did not create a series of modules to accompany this book as they did with the Dragonlance books , and that s surprising, because this book reads like a gaming session, complete with goofy player dialogue in silly accents Really, in the other books I never noticed Drizzt or his friends speaking in such stilted, pompous upper crust English In this book, with all of his I shan t hold you to that dialog, I couldn t help but imagine Drizzt speaking in a prissy Jacob Rees Mogg dialect, which was so funny it enhanced my enjoyment of what is really a decent plot presented with awful writing.One passage actually elicited an involuntary guffaw from me Sadly, it was unintended humor I mean, the writing is bad, but I didn t actually expect to find a gem of a Bulwer Lytton contest entry within its pages Here it is from page 278 His concern touched Regis, as would a starving man crying out for food You know, because the only thing that makes life bearable for a hobo who hasn t eaten in four days is the sweat of a halfling Everybody knows this, just as halfling dander is a powerful narcotic Regis has starving men touching him all the time it s a natural hazard of being a halfling in a world of malnourished humans.That s a stand out in the bad writing contest, but the rest of the book isn t much better The whole thing is written in a strangely remote passive voice that is completely narrative with no demonstrative elements at all Put another way the book tells us what the characters are doing, what they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they are going to do, without ever just showing us simply through their behavior There is no subtext to any of the characters thought, emotion, motivationeverything is presented to us as fact It s so weird and so consistent that it feels intentional The result is that the book feels like a story that comes from an oral tradition, so like a Norse saga, the poem of Beowulf, or a Homeric tale that it feels even weirder that it isn t in verse There s little complexity and the narrative declares what each person is thinking and what they plan before they actually take action I m convinced that this first novel was not planned as the beginning of an endless series of books about Drizzt There s so much in this book, and a great deal of it includes the plots of several of the books that were written later particularly the entire Dark Elf Trilogy it s clear that Salvatore had no idea that he would writeafter this, so he stuffed as much as possible into this one book It s like George Lucas filming Star Wars a New Hope as the one story he was going to tell in the middle of the longer series, and only after it did monster box office did he go back and start to plan to tell the rest of the stories.The main reason that I m glad I ve read this now is that I finally haveof a connection toof the characters in the Legend of Drizzt board game I wouldn t recommend this book to anyone older than 15, and even then only with a big caveat about it being Salvatore s first book This beginning to the Icewind Dale trilogy is a guilty pleasure at best I fully admit that I ve read eight books in the entire Drizzt series, and that this kind of novel is just the thing I need to curl up with sometimes But the sad truth is that it is books like this one that, in my opinion, sometimes give fantasy a bad name Mr Salvatore is undoubtedlytalented in writing than the format of these books might suggest I m sure he s writing for a fairly young audience , and the success o This beginning to the Icewind Dale trilogy is a guilty pleasure at best I fully admit that I ve read eight books in the entire Drizzt series, and that this kind of novel is just the thing I need to curl up with sometimes But the sad truth is that it is books like this one that, in my opinion, sometimes give fantasy a bad name Mr Salvatore is undoubtedlytalented in writing than the format of these books might suggest I m sure he s writing for a fairly young audience , and the success of the series shows its popularity, but with only decent writing, only one really fleshed out character, and plot that feels like watered down and sugared up Tolkien and yes, the rip offs are many , this book just isn t really something worth reading Drizzt, the drow dark elf , is a classic romantic character, who is just too noble to ever show any weakness, and too good with his scimitars to ever be beaten by anything As much as I love that idea I plan to go as Drizzt next Halloween , it is puddle deep The latter Dark Elf trilogy is better and deeper writing, although still not quite literary My suggestion Try the Dark Elf trilogy If it s too juvenile for you, then the Crystal Shard will be too, by bounds Akar Kessel, weak willed apprentice mage, starts events that find a magical device, the crystal shard Dwarf Bruenor rescues barbarian Wulfgar from the ruins of Ten Towns, foryears of service and friendship With help from renegade dark elf Drizzt, Wulfgar becomes a warrior with brawn and brains Can the trio stave off the crystal shard forces How many books do you know that a side character hastime than the main character then becomes the main character That was the way for this book, which mean the character of Drizzt rather than for Wulfgar One of the many reasons that why this book is different from most books in fantasy This reason is the biggest reason that this is different from most of the book out there. An elf, a dwarf, and a halfling walk into a barwait you ve heard this one before Yeah, okay There s nothing truly original here Nothing we haven t encountered before But I like it.A little different than the usual quest style of fantasy this one concentrates on a group of settlers trying to save their home from an invading wizard who has been possessed by an ancient artifact.If you ve read Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn first you will notice a difference in style The Crystal Shard was wri An elf, a dwarf, and a halfling walk into a barwait you ve heard this one before Yeah, okay There s nothing truly original here Nothing we haven t encountered before But I like it.A little different than the usual quest style of fantasy this one concentrates on a group of settlers trying to save their home from an invading wizard who has been possessed by an ancient artifact.If you ve read Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn first you will notice a difference in style The Crystal Shard was written first even though chronology it comes after Homeland matches the later books.But if you have a problem with the characters, especially Drizzt, you might as well stop now On a whole the writing does improve though It s hard consider this book in a bubble because I ve read all the Drizzt books that are out And I know that favorites are coming Happy Dance Artemis Entreri is coming Happy Dance ahem, a favorite character, or can you tell I recommend these books to fans of Dungeons and Dragons gameplay and books Fans of traditional fantasy To those who are just getting into fantasy And for anyone who might want a light read MY BLOG Melissa Martin s Reading ListIt doesn t matter I will always love Drizzt his trusted companion, Guenhwyvar Drizzt Do Urden trotted along silently, his soft, low cut boots barely stirring the dust He kept the cowl of his brown cloak pulled low over the flowing waves of his stark white hair and moved with such effortless grace that an onlooker might have thought him to be nothan an illusion, an optical trick of the brown sea of tundra In the first part of the book we find MY BLOG Melissa Martin s Reading ListIt doesn t matter I will always love Drizzt his trusted companion, Guenhwyvar Drizzt Do Urden trotted along silently, his soft, low cut boots barely stirring the dust He kept the cowl of his brown cloak pulled low over the flowing waves of his stark white hair and moved with such effortless grace that an onlooker might have thought him to be nothan an illusion, an optical trick of the brown sea of tundra In the first part of the book we find Drizzt helping out a few of the towns against a barbarian raid He has help from his dear friend, Bruenor Battlehammer who is a dwarf I love the banter and camaraderie between the two During this battle one of the barbarians that was in a fight with Bruenor was hurt by Bruenor himself But the dwarf felt a soft spot in his heart for this young barbarian and took him in without killing him He told the barbarian named Wulfgar, that he had to work for him for a number of years and then he was free to go Wulfgar and Bruenor started feeling like family and when the time was up, Bruenor sent Wulfgar to learn fighting skills from Drizzt Meanwhile in another part of the tundra, this jerk of a wizard Akar Kessell gets lucky and finds a powerful magical piece called the crystal shard He uses this for bad things of course Controlling all of the giants, orcs and bringing demons through portholes stuff like that Of course Kessell is going to attack the villages like will everyone just leave them alone with his huge army He has the barbarians on his side too Drizzt and Wulfgar become good friends while Wulfgar is learning to fight and then truly fighting the evil peeps with Drizzt and Bruenor Then Wulfgar wanted to go back to his people, which worried the others a little bit They shouldn t have worried, he brought them to their senses I love Wulfgar too This, that and the other happens and it ends all happy ever after with some funny stuff thrown in here and there Now they are on the next quest to somewhere that I m not telling you D I can see where this would have been an extremely popular book in its time It does, however, very much show its status as first published book by this author and as a high fantasy published in the 1980s It reminded me strongly of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, which started off very dependent on The Lord of the Rings for races, imagery, and even some plot points, but which eventually moved off in its own direction I think nowadays we could refer to works like these as LOTR fan fiction I can see where this would have been an extremely popular book in its time It does, however, very much show its status as first published book by this author and as a high fantasy published in the 1980s It reminded me strongly of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, which started off very dependent on The Lord of the Rings for races, imagery, and even some plot points, but which eventually moved off in its own direction I think nowadays we could refer to works like these as LOTR fan fiction LOTR was immensely influential and writers were trying to recreate the experience for eager readers, who were tired of re reading Tolkien s epic to get their fix.To give credit to Salvatore, he moves things off in his own direction quite quickly He may have halflings with furry feet thankfully, he doesn t call them hobbits , elves, dwarves, goblins and orcs, but they march to his drum and he doesn t just copy Tolkien s plot lines The good people may have slight shadings of grey to their goodness, but the villains are definitely mustache twirling, evil laughing baddies, very typical of the time period There is some battle detail, but certainly nothing resembling the nitty gritty of the grim dark fantasy that is currently popular The reader can be quite confident that all the main characters will survive to have another adventure and that good will conquer in the end.Salvatore adds some imaginative elements for example, Drizzt, our Dark Elf main character, has a magical panther companion Instead of a pastoral setting, all of his characters live on or right beside the tundra The barbarian tribes make interesting enemies and eventually allies frenemies perhaps for the settled humans I was particularly amused by the knucklehead trout, the skulls of which were ideal for carving, rather like ivory in our world.Also typical of the 1980s, female characters are scarce and barely have names, let alone roles to play in the action But this is merely the first book, so there is room for development The ending leads me to believe that the second book will be thefamiliar quest tale.Book number 229 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project I m glad to be back with Drizzt and his pals This was a very fun tale filled with battles, evil wizards, giants, dwarves and a crazy demon Can t wait to start the next one This book sucked Seriously, this is a classic The story is good, and I can see why the character is popular among 12 year old boys He s a tormented drow So he s cool looking, but good And he has a magic panther And he can do just about anything, including run for days and command demons and all that.The story, overall, isn t horrible It s better than the base narrative of The Hobbit But the writing, the writing, the overwrought writing, the exposition, the journal entries argh Salvat This book sucked Seriously, this is a classic The story is good, and I can see why the character is popular among 12 year old boys He s a tormented drow So he s cool looking, but good And he has a magic panther And he can do just about anything, including run for days and command demons and all that.The story, overall, isn t horrible It s better than the base narrative of The Hobbit But the writing, the writing, the overwrought writing, the exposition, the journal entries argh Salvatore has been writing for 20 years, and maybe he s gotten better But I should have read this when I was 15, and then I would have disliked it less.I wonder how well those Dragonlance books would hold up if I read them now Ah, the very beginning of the Drizzt saga Such trope ridden, archetypal innocence.When a disgruntled and incompetent mage apprentice comes into contact with one of the most twisted, manipulative and overall evil artifacts in the Forgotten Realms, things go south quickly for the population of Icewind Dale Enter Bruenor Battlehammer, Wulfgar the Barbarian and last, but certainly not least, Drizzt Do Urden.Having recently run The Legacy of the Crystal Shard, set a century later, for the 5th Editi Ah, the very beginning of the Drizzt saga Such trope ridden, archetypal innocence.When a disgruntled and incompetent mage apprentice comes into contact with one of the most twisted, manipulative and overall evil artifacts in the Forgotten Realms, things go south quickly for the population of Icewind Dale Enter Bruenor Battlehammer, Wulfgar the Barbarian and last, but certainly not least, Drizzt Do Urden.Having recently run The Legacy of the Crystal Shard, set a century later, for the 5th Edition of Dungeons Dragons, I must admit I liked thatthan I enjoyed reading this, but it was quite interesting seeing where it all originated.As R.A Salvatore s debut novel, The Crystal Shard reeks of inexperienced, derivative fantasy, but there is also a distinct aroma of epic adventure that keeps you reading page after page.Drizzt books are not masterpieces, but always enjoyable reads