‘Books’: Homeland by R. A. Salvatore

I’m a sucker for any fantasy novel that has DragonLance plastered on the cover and the ones that say Forgotten Realms are no different.  Both umbrellas of fiction are published by Wizards of the Coast and share similar flora and fauna and races as both are D&D campaign settings.  So when my sister brought home ‘The Legend of Drizzt’ novels featuring a spider goddess called Lolth, a hero named Drizzt Do’Urden, and set in the Underdark I knew I was in for a treat.  The Legend of Drizzt novels are written by R.A. Salvatore, an author best known for his work with Forgotten Realms and The DemonWars Saga.

Homeland follows the birth and adolescence of Drizzt Do’Urden, an uncharacteristically compassionate and naïve drow elf (or dark elf, black skin, white hair, affinity for magic, ect.) who is, of course, amazing at everything except being drow.  The story takes place in the Menzoberranzan, a drow city in the Underdark.  In this particular drow society, women are seen as far superior to men, and as such the city is run by eight ‘Matrons’.  Drizzy is the third son of Matron Malice, born while House Do’Urden wipes out House DeVir in a power grab.  Malice’s goal is to be part of the ruling Matrons, but is still just outside that goal as the ninth House of the Underdark.

Parts One and Two of the novel focus on the aftermath of the coup, and Drizzt’s rearing by his sister Vierna, and the House’s Weapons Master Zak (I’m so glad everybody gets nicknames).  Drizzy is incredibly sheltered as he grows up which makes him totally unprepared to deal with real life.  He develops a strong bond with Zak and nobody else.  These two parts are actually quite boring.  I suppose that they are a set-up to help explain Drizzys actions later on, but I didn’t enjoy the pacing.  Oh yeah, there is also this secondary plot where the last surviving member of House DeVir steals another drow elfs job so he can exact revenge on House Do’Urden.  Part Three is where things get interesting.  Drizzy goes off to the Academy to train as a warrior despite his mother wanting him to become a wizard.  He soon realizes that he has no idea what the real world is like as teamwork, compassion, kindness, and curiosity don’t seem to exist for these creatures.  He is, however, the best student ever and excels academically rather than socially (though, I’m not sure any drow have friends).  Drizzy’s brother Dinin is at the academy as well to keep an eye on his brother and make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.  There are assassination attempts, drama between houses, and a very strange graduation ceremony that results in purposely-poorly-executed-attempted-murder.  Parts Four and Five follow Drizzt’s struggle to maintain some semblance of his moral code without raising too much suspicion from his family.  The side plot is still going on, but I don’t want to spoil too much.  Drizzy does become best buds with a panther, so that’s cool.  The story really starts to give you some insight into Drizzt’s feelings on what is and is not expected of him and that helps him to become a more likable character.  He also has a fantastic sassy streak.  Like, his sass in the face of his enraged, power crazy mother is amazing.  While typing, I have just realized that Drizzt is very similar a character to Tanis Half-Elven of DragonLance fame, a superior warrior who hates fighting…

I am interested in reading the rest of the novels, at least the first two trilogies (though I’m reading them backwards).  In retrospect, I would have rather started with the Icewind Dale Trilogy as I’m assuming it is more plot focused than backstory focused.  Not that Homeland wasn’t plot focused, and despite the lack of interesting characters (l swear everyone fit into three categories: Drow, Drow who hates Drizzy, Drow who is Drizzy) the story itself was interesting.  It is hard to get into liking/disliking characters who are motivated solely by anger at everything.  I mean, Masoj has absolutely no initial reason to hate Drizzt other than because drow hate everything.  Later when his pet prefers Drizz to himself he at least has a reason.

Regardless of any perceived flaws, I enjoyed Homeland.  It is a nice start to the exploration of a pre-existing characters backstory and I am looking forward to continuing the experience and sharing it with you!

(So I just found out this is a comic book and I might have to buy all of it)