The Dark Elf Trilogy
By: R. A. Salvatore
(High Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery)
about 300 pages each
I haven’t read a lot of this type of fantasy, which surprised me because I like fantasy novels. This one is very much in the Tolkein tradition of elves, orcs, dwarves, and goblins, and to be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up on my own. Since it seems so much like a book for guys, and since it’s a companion to the Dungeons and Dragons game (didn’t know they wrote books to go with those) it really wouldn’t have crossed my path normally. Thankfully, this trilogy was recommended to me by a friend, who thought I would like the characters, so I gave it a shot. I’ll read anything once.
Having two thirds of the series take place underground was something a little different from what you get in your average fantasy novel, and calling it the Underdark, just made it sound cooler. Drizzt, the main character, is born into a vicious female dominated society that rewards treachery and thrives on hatred and violence, but he happens to have a conscience. The idea of an inherently good person trapped in a world of negativity appealed to me. The entire trilogy surrounds his journey to figure out who he is and where he belongs, which is a perfect vehicle for some wonderful character development.
By the second book I really loved this character, and those that came along to become his friends. His journey isn’t easy, and there are plenty of monster battles along the way. His fight to be accepted as who he is and not what he is expected to be, makes you really feel for him. Changing peoples’ minds is not easy.
Now, there were a few picky things that stood out to me. Firstly, the crazy fantasy names like Guenhwyvar, Menzoberranzan, and Svirfnebli. Maybe it’s just me but it felt like a wee bit too much, but then again this is fantasy, so why not have crazy names? I guess it’s just not my style somehow. Svirfneblin just sounds way too cute to me, but maybe they are. Then there was just this one little thing I noticed about the author’s writing style. He had this way of reversing word order a lot to say things like “found not a sign” or “heard not a sound” which is ok I guess, but I found it a little distracting. But, like I said these are picky things that had little to no affect on my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, I really liked this trilogy and it was the characters that did it. There are other trilogies featuring Drizzt, and I will most likely work my way through those in time. With each book being about 300 pages, it makes for a reasonably quick read, and I’ll be keeping these in mind the next time I want some epic fantasy. Until next time…