Gauntlgrym by R. A. Salvatore- This is the first book in the Neverwinter trilogy as well as the twentieth novel in The Legend of Drizzt series. The next two books in the trilogy are yet to be named at the time of this review. The Legend of Drizzt series contains a number of trilogies and series and it all takes place in the Forgotten Realm universe of Dungeons and Dragons. The Dark Elf Trilogy (Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn), The Icewind Dale Trilogy (The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, and The Halfling's Gem), Legacy of the Drow (The Legacy, Starless Night, Siege of Darkness, and Passage to Dawn), Paths of Darkness (The Silent Blade, Spine of the World, Sea of Swords), The Hunter's Blades Trilogy (The Thousand Orcs, The Lone Drow, and The Two Swords), and Transitions (The Orc King, The Pirate King, and The Ghost King) are all apart of The Legend of Drizzt series. Some other characters in the saga are found in The Sellswords trilogy (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, and Road of the Patriarch) and The Cleric Quintet (Canticle, In Sylvan Shadows, Night Masks, The Fallen Fortress, and The Chaos Curse). R. A. Salvatore has also written a few other books set in shared universes. He has written two Star Wars based books, Vector Prime and Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones, and he has also written a book based on Tarzan called Tarzan: The Epic Adventures. R. A. Salvatore has also written a few books in his on created worlds, Ynis Aielle (Echoes of the Fourth Magic, The Witches Daughter, and Bastian of Darkness), Spearwielders Tales (The Woods Outback, The Dragon's Dagger, and Dragonslayer's Return), The Crimson Shadow (The Sword of Bedwyr, Luthien's Gamble, and The Dragon King), Demon Wars (The Demon Awakens, The Demon Spirit, The Demon Apostle, and Mortalis), Demon Wars: Second Saga (Ascendance, Transcendence, and Immortalis) and the Saga of the First King (The Highwayman, The Ancient, The Dame, and The Bear). He also co-wrote The Stone of Tymora (The Stowaway, The Shadowmask, and The Sentinels) with his son Geno Salvatore. Along with all that, he has written a few short stories. Gauntlgrym was released in October 2010 and is published by Wizards of the Coast.
Years have passed since Drizzt Do'Urden's life changed. His love, Catti-brie, is dead, along with his friend Regis. The dwarven kingdom of Mithral Hall's peace treaty with the orcish Kingdom of Many Arrows has held over the years and a peace is found in the land. His other friend, the king of Mithral Hall, Bruenor Battlehammer, is nearing the end of his life. However, Bruenor still has the fire in him to find the lost dwarven kingdom named Gauntlgrym, so he brings Drizzt, the battlerager Pwent, an orc named Jessa, and a gnome alchemist named Nanfoodle along with him. Years upon years pass by with no luck finding the place. Even after Jessa and Nanfoodle pass away, Drizzt and Bruenor continue the search. However, another group stumbles upon the forgotten city. A Thayan named Dahlia is searching for what powered the Hosttower, a treelike tower that housed wizards in Luskan before the cities fall. Her search for answers leads her to Jarlaxle and his dwarven friend Athrogate. Little do they know that it was Gauntlgrym that produced the Hosttower. Unknown to the group, unleash a primordial and with it, devastation. After years pass after the devastation, Drizzt and Bruenor are still on the search for the ancient dwarven stronghold. However, they may need the help of Jarlaxle and Athrogate to find it.
1) Time Jumps. This is my major issue with Gauntlgrym, as well as any other book I read. I loathe time jumps. I am not a fan when a story jumps forty some odd years. I would have liked to see some of the adventures that Drizzt, Bruenor, Jessa, and Nanfoodle under took, I do hope that somewhere down the line there will be a short story involving one such adventure. I would have liked to see more of Drizzt and Bruenor failing at finding Gauntlgrym or their brief search for finding Catti-brie and Regis. I would have liked to see this, or even a chapter about some of these things. Now, I wouldn't have an issue if it was two or three years pass. I wouldn't even have that big of an issue with just one time jump. However, Gauntlgrym has two jumps. Two jumps that forcefully progress the story. While the first jump was about fifty years, the second is a more reasonable ten or so. However, this still bothered me. We never really see Dahlia's consequences for her actions she took in Gauntlgrym. We never see how Athrogate is effected, nor Jarlaxle. We do have little snippets, but there is so much more to be said. These jumps just make the story seem as through it was rushed. We have a lot of things happening, but nothing to really show for it aside from a line or two.
1) Drizzt. Let me be honest here for a second. It's my opinion that after twenty-sum books, Drizzt Do'Urden has grown a little stale. Don't get me wrong, he still is great, but he never really seemed to undergo a major change that seems to last for an extended amount of time. Sure there were times were he let his savage side take over (The Hunter's Blades Trilogy) and the life changing event that he underwent in The Ghost King. But for the past twenty-two years, he has hardly changed. That being said, Drizzt does undergo a shift in personality, albeit subtle. In fact, I barely noticed any major change until Jarlaxle pointed it out. Before, Drizzt only killed when it was necessary. Now he seems to enjoy it. It's almost like the 'Hunter' in The Hunter's Blades Trilogy, but with more control. It's almost like he's becoming more 'Drow'. It is nice to see that everything that Drizzt went through in his life thus far is finally affecting him. He may seem like the Drizzt we all know and love, but now there seems to be something more, and darker, growing in everyone's favorite drow.
2) Jarlaxle. Jarlaxle really surprised me. I knew that Jarlaxle does have a somewhat noble streak to him, but I am utterly at a loss for words about what he does. Sure, he's still the pragmatic drow that we've known from before, but now there seems to be more to him than what meets the eye. He seems to be more disparate and uncontrolled. The best example is his one on one interactions with Drizzt. To put it simply, Jarlaxle yells at Drizzt for being what he's become. I never would have thought that Jarlaxle would do such a thing. But that's just not all he does. There were other things in the story that I would have never have thought Jarlaxle would do. It was just a nice surprise to see more character depth to Jarlaxle.
3) Forward. I do like where the series seems to be heading. Now it seems like there will be little reminiscing of the past, and the legend of Drizzt is going in a new, exciting direction. I'm just excited to see what happens next.
1) Valas Hune. It was nice to see one of the my favorite characters from The War of the Spider Queen series make a brief cameo.
2) Barrabus the Grey. I hope this isn't who I think it is. If it is, all I can say is that I'm disappointed.
3) Cover Art. The first thing I noticed about the cover art is that it's bright. It really catches your eye and draws it in. After so many recent Dungeons and Dragons based books having darker coloring, it's nice to see something bright. The action scene between Drizzt and Dahlia is pretty epic looking, although it doesn't happen in the novel. That kind of bothers me. It would have been wonderful to see Drizzt and Dahlia fighting one another. The only major issue I have is that Dahlia looks horrible. She doesn't look the least bit attractive. In fact, her face just doesn't look quite right, almost as though everything is just squished together. However, the cover art is definitely a nice, bright change and I do like it.
Gauntlgrym is good. I wouldn't really expect any less from a Drizzt novel. However, there is one problem that I still can't get over. I hate the time jumps. I absolutely hate it when things are skipped over that could have made an interesting couple of chapters. In fact, I would have rather have had this book as the second in the trilogy. The first book could have been some of the events leading up to Athrogate pulling the lever. Dahlia seemed to need a little more development, and we could have had some time getting to know Jessa and Nanfoodle. That said, the rest of the story was great. It's nice to finally see everything impacting Drizzt and a new, unexpected look at Jarlaxle. I'm really liking where this story is taking Drizzt. So should you pick it up? Yes. Definitely. Even if you're not a fan of Drizzt, it's well worth a read. However, you should have a little prior knowledge before jumping in.