The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore is, in my opinion, one of the best books I have ever read. It is about Drizzt Do’urden, a drow, or dark elf, after he fled the caverns of his home to arrive on the surface years before the first book. He is accepted first by the dwarves of Icewind Dale, a place of tundra, and of unrelenting bitter, cold wind. Drizzt’s closest friends are Bruenor Battlehammer, a stoic and outwardly gruff dwarf, leader of his clan, Catti-Brie, Bruenor’s young and innocent adopted human daughter, and Regis, an easygoing opportunist Halfling. The Dwarves and Drizzt live in the mountain Kelvin’s Cairn near a region known as Ten-Towns, a near lawless place consisting of ten competing towns where any kind of rogues and thieves are accepted. The friends have to unite the towns, which presents a unique problem, but I don’t want to ruin this great book for anyone. Each spokesman for a town has his own clashing character, while each town has its own rivalries and hatreds. The characters each have a very obvious personality, Bruenor tending to be angry and ready to chop something’s head, and Drizzt always calm and level-headed. The books have a perfect layering of action, intrigue, magic, humor, and plot to bring you back for the next. You later meet Wulfgar, a boy taken from the barbarian tribes of Icewind Dale by Bruenor, and is trained in combat by Drizzt, the master of swordplay. They all become good friends with Wulfgar, who grows into a powerful man. Each character also has his or her flaws, too. Bruenor refuses to admit how emotional he is, Regis’ past comes back to haunt him, Wulfgar’s pride makes him many enemies, and Drizzt does not believe in overwhelming odds. The author even tells you this from the perspective of Wulfgar, pointing out a twinkle in the drow’s eyes when combat is near, and Wulfgar’s worries about how far Drizzt would take him. But each character is so engaging and charismatic, you wind up truly caring for them. Wulfgar is naïve and oblivious to just how honorless and petty the world can be, and has trouble letting go of his flawed tribal ways. Drizzt’s internal acceptance, and torment on occasion, of the world’s prejudice inspires you, and Bruenor’s fiery rage at others’ treatment of his friend almost makes you agree, want to stand up for Drizzt. Drizzt was born in the cavern city of Menzoberranzan, a city of passionless killers who strive only for power and rank. Drizzt was born with morals and principles, and could no longer live in the Underdark, a system of caverns and tunnels extending almost infinitely under the surface. His fight for his principles in the surface, his turmoil about whether he belongs, makes a reader want to comfort him. R.A. Salvatore knows how to write a book that you don’t want to stop reading until you finish. It was one of Salvatore’s first books, and his first in the Forgotten Realms, but it is still a great book. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes: fantasy, action, and the uniting of ancient enemies to stop a greater threat. But the squeamish should stay away, because while it does not go into any detail, many body parts and heads are cut of, and there is a bit of disembowelment in the series, the Legend of Drizzt.
The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
December 21, 2011