Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wizards of the Coast

My first invitation to read new works by a publishing group I have read several series from already. I read the Dragonlance Chronicles and Dragonlance Legends several years ago from a Christmas gift from my husband. He had read the series when he broke his leg as a child and was left indoors (a difficult task to keep him at). I was impressed that he had read an entire series that was not physics or engineering related and had to check it out. The invitation to read and review from these well established authors was kind of nerve wrecking to receive actually. 


The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

I was leery to start reading this book when I first received the invitation. While I have read the Dragonlance novels, I have not been introduced to Drizzt properly in the Forgotten Realms by R.A. Salvatore. They are certainly on my to-read list, but as it spans over 30 books, I have yet to dig into the world. The life of Drizzt and his companions is well established and known to the D&D world for its in-depth creation and cohesion. That knowledge had me very apprehensive to start The Sundering series when I received the invitation.

I just received another invitation for book three in the set and finally caved on reading the first two. There is just something special about being a beta reader for this massive part of fantasy literature, which goes so beyond the library into the homes of D&D players globally. I wasn't sure if I would be missing key elements on character backstory and plot lines when I began, but I jumped in head first anyway.

R.A. Salvatore wrote The Companions to be an introduction point for new readers. His works have been spanning the last two decades and covered the lives of Drizzt Do'Urden and the Companions of the Hall. To bring in a fresh new batch of readers, The Sundering series happens well into the future time line of the Forgotten Realms. The main characters have been given an interesting reincarnation to the new generation of readers. While I didn't feel like you needed the older series to understand this one, I did feel that there were too many allusions to past missions and anecdotes that were sorely missed.

The plot felt a bit chunky as you travel around in time and place following each of the main characters adventures before they converge in storylines. A little better editing might have been able to smooth out the placement of the chapters. We rush through 21 years of adventures in 350 pages. The writing and development were fantastic, however. There was such vivid and entrancing writing. You definitely get the sense of world creation from a professional writer. I could imagine the places and people quite clearly, which is good since many of the characters come from new (to me) races.

I would rate this book 3 stars for myself but much higher for those who have already appreciated the Forgotten Realms series. While I didn't feel lost in the story, I did feel that I kept missing something while I read. I'm not sure how this will fit into the other five novels proposed for The Sundering series. Since each is written by a different author, will they write about each others characters? Is there an ending for Drizzt?

Here is to the second installment!

Visit the product page for all the details and sample chapters.