Sunday, March 16, 2014

Night of the Hunter by R.A. Salvatore

The early Drizzt novels by R.A. Salvatore are a great fantasy read. The drow (dark elves) in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms are clever and evil, but Drizzt somehow escaped the darkness of his people and has chosen the way of good. He is thoughtful, troubled, and lonely. I'm not a Dungeons and Dragons player; I read the Salvatore novels for Drizzt, because he is an intriguing character.

However, the books are in some way directed by Dungeons and Dragons, and in 2010, the world of Drizzt was "reset" with a book called Gauntlgrym. I was so unimpressed with Gauntlgrym I haven't read a Drizzt book since. (I believe there have been four.) But I knew some beloved companions from previous books were back for Night of the Hunter so I read a Netgalley advance reader copy.

Night of the Hunter is better than Gauntlgrym, by about half a star. There were places that seemed very disjointed; maybe that was a problem with the advance reader copy, but if so it wasn't obvious. I found the presence of vampires extremely odd. I was never a fan of Catti-Bri and Drizzt as a couple and am uninterested in hearing about their state of undress and amorous activities. (Fortunately, there was not much of that.) We saw very little of Drizzt's magical panther Guenhwyvar, my second favorite character in the Drizzt books. I did find the way in which the companions were killed and then brought back interesting, but I grew tired of the drow politics.

 My favorite parts of the early Drizzt novels were his contemplative musings on life and his situation, and there weren't enough of these passages in Night of the Hunter for my liking.  Salvatore has been quoted as calling Drizzt "the classic romantic hero — misunderstood, holding to a code of ideals even when the going gets tough, and getting no appreciation for it most of the time." I hope we see more of that Drizzt in future novels. Still, I enjoyed reading Night of the Hunter and found it easier to follow than Gauntlygrym, especially toward the end. 

If you are a fantasy fan who has not yet discovered Drizzt, start with The Crystal Shard or Homeland.

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