Neverwinter by R. A. Salvatore
Posted by travizzt on October 24, 2011
Neverwinter is the second book in The Neverwinter Saga and is the twenty-first novel in The Legend of Drizzt series. The first book in the saga is Gauntlgrym and the next book is yet to be named at the time of this review. Neverwinter takes place in the Forgotten Realms universe of Dungeons and Dragons. The Legend of Drizzt series consists of The Dark Elf Trilogy (Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn), The Icewind Dale Trilogy (The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, and The Halfling’s Gem), Legacy of the Drow (The Legacy, Starless Night, Siege of Darkness, and Passage to Dawn), Paths of Darkness (The Silent Blade, Spine of the World, Sea of Swords), The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy (The Thousand Orcs, The Lone Drow, and The Two Swords), and Transitions (The Orc King, The Pirate King, and The Ghost King) are all apart of The Legend of Drizzt series. Some other characters in the saga are found in The Sellswords trilogy (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, and Road of the Patriarch) and The Cleric Quintet (Canticle, In Sylvan Shadows, Night Masks, The Fallen Fortress, and The Chaos Curse). R. A. Salvatore has also written a few other books set in shared universes. He has written two Star Wars based books, Vector Prime and Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones, and he has also written a book based on Tarzan called Tarzan: The Epic Adventures. R. A. Salvatore has also written a few books in his own created worlds, Ynis Aielle (Echoes of the Fourth Magic, The Witches Daughter, and Bastian of Darkness), Spearwielders Tales (The Woods Outback, The Dragon’s Dagger, and Dragonslayer’s Return), The Crimson Shadow (The Sword of Bedwyr, Luthien’s Gamble, and The Dragon King), Demon Wars (The Demon Awakens, The Demon Spirit, The Demon Apostle, and Mortalis), Demon Wars: Second Saga (Ascendance, Transcendence, and Immortalis) and the Saga of the First King (The Highwayman, The Ancient, The Dame, and The Bear). He also co-wrote The Stone of Tymora (The Stowaway, The Shadowmask, and The Sentinels) with his son Geno Salvatore. Along with all that, he has written a few short stories. Neverwinter was released in October 2011 and is published by Wizards of the Coast LLC.
After losing the last of his friends, Drizzt Do’Urden finds himself seeking a new adventure. His only companion, the Thayan elf Dahlia Sin’felle, wants to take revenge on her former master, Sylora Salm. What else can Drizzt do but join her and hope to avenge all those lost due to Sylora’s involvement in causing a massive eruption which wiped out all of Neverwinter. But Sylora has plans of her own to take down her former champion, as well as, conquer all of the newly thriving Neverwinter in the name of Thay. The only thing stopping her is the Empire of Netheril, who has plans for Neverwinter as well. Unfortunately for Drizzt, traveling with Dahlia isn’t something that he expected and he finds himself challenged by her views the world.
1) Drizzt. There are quite a few problems with Neverwinter, but one of the more prominent problems is, surprisingly enough, Drizzt Do’Urden. Drizzt feels like he’s losing what it takes to be a main character. The only interesting thing that Drizzt undergoes is that he is starting to slowly question his morals. Unfortunately, this ‘dilemma’ is only briefly mentioned and wasn’t explored any further than a brief mention. It would have been interesting to see Drizzt to start to question his views, but these scenes only brought up the fact that he is starting to see the world in a slightly different light. That said, they didn’t really introduce this, they really only brought it up. Aside from that, Drizzt came off as very annoying. For the past few novels, Drizzt has became increasingly whiny and annoying. In Neverwinter, this quality of the more recent Drizzt is amplified. There were times when he became genuinely frustrating. Drizzt is no longer the “outsider trying to fit in” character that he was for the longest time. He should have moved past that quality and mindset, but it seems to continue popping up. Sure, he lost all his friends, but he seems to be getting over the loss and it never felt like the reason for his attitude. The weirdest thing about his lack of changing personality is that you barely noticed it before. But in this novel, this qualities seem to be amplified. The main problem with Drizzt in Neverwinter is that there is nothing new added to him to give him more depth as a character, and he feels like he is the same character that he has always been.
2) Story. Neverwinter had a story that never really felt like a story. That might be an odd or confusing statement, but it is the most accurate way to explain it. Neverwinter only felt like a short story expanded with slightly related events to make the novel over three hundred pages in length. Basically, it felt like the main plot could have been told in a fifty page short story or even a short novella. The main plot really involves Dahlia and Drizzt returning to Neverwinter to take down the Thayan presence in the area, or more specifically, to allow Dahlia her revenge against her former master, Sylora Salm. It’s not a very strong concept to start with. The whole revenge premise is very plain for a Drizzt novel and it has been done before in the series. This revenge plot just feels weak and really couldn’t carry this story. Then you have the forced-in side story to try to pad out the story to the three hundred forty-six page length novel. These side stories only seemed to want to build-up to the next novel, which is what a bridge novel like Neverwinter should do. However, the side stories don’t feel like they are that important. The main reason for this is that Neverwinter is full of action with little more than that. This focus on action really harms the story overall, giving it a very boring narrative and little character development. When you really look at Neverwinter‘s story, it is just action and more action, and because of this it never felt like an actual story.
3) New. There is one problem that will bother dedicated Drizzt fans is that there doesn’t seem to be anything new added to the series with Neverwinter. You can claim Drizzt’s budding relationship with Dahlia, but it felt like that was happening in the first book of the trilogy. You can also claim Dahlia is something new, but it isn’t for the same reason. The only real ‘new’ thing that Neverwinter can claim is that now there is a warlock character who is introduced. That’s really it. The story felt dry and bland because of the lack of innovation. If Neverwinter continued what the previous novel was setting up, the idea that Drizzt is now alone with no friends he can count on, that could have been something relatively new and could have potentially added another dimension to an old character. But that is hardly brought up and only really mentioned in Drizzt’s first reflective moment in the novel. While there are a few things introduced, nothing really made Neverwinter feel any different.
1) Barrabus. Before I potentially spoil anything concerning Barrabus, I will say that I would not consider this to be a spoiler in any way, shape, or form due to the fact that within the first chapter, it is revealed that Barrabus is Artemis Entreri. That said, Entreri is one of the strongest characters in Neverwinter. I’m going to honest here, when I first considered Entreri to be Barrabus, I was disappointed. I’m happy to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Entreri’s scenes are probably some of the strongest in the novel and do add a lot to his character. The main reason for this is that the majority of Entreri’s scenes aren’t focused solely on action, they really rely on Entreri’s reasons for what he is doing and the way he says and does things. That’s not to say that Entreri doesn’t fight, he does, quite a bit in fact. But there’s motivation and reason to his fights, something that ninety-percent of the other fights seem to lack. Through his actions and words, we start to see an entirely different person appear. Entreri is still Entreri, but there is an obvious change to how he carries himself and his personality. Fans of Entreri won’t be shocked by his slight change, but it is still noticeable. It also makes you wonder how he round-up getting to where he is at now. It’s a nice change to an old character and something that Drizzt is sorely lacking.
2) Dahlia. There is another character who helps make Neverwinter tolerable, and that’s Dahlia. She has some great moments in the story that help develop her more. The most impressive thing about Dahlia is that she is constantly challenging Drizzt’s morals and ideals. She really puts him into place and she is something new and exciting in Drizzt’s life. That said, she doesn’t give the story that feeling of something new, but it is a welcome change over his past companions. While reading, you can’t help but notice that Dahlia is a surprisingly deep early on. She has a very developed and unique personality and meshes well with Drizzt’s. In the previous novel, Dahlia felt tack-on. In this one, she’s a powerhouse and single-handily makes Drizzt’s scenes bearable. Dahlia gives this story something exciting, and without her, Neverwinter would have been more of a chore to get through than it already was.
1) Neverwinter. The setting really does seem to be interesting. I wouldn’t mind learning more about the area.
2) Fights. For fans of R. A. Salvatore’s fight scenes, you won’t be disappointed with Neverwinter as it is chalked full of them.
3) Cover Art. The cover for Neverwinter isn’t bad, but it feels old-hat. Seeing Drizzt fight someone isn’t anything new and seeing him take on Barrabus isn’t as exciting looking as it should be. The background, thankfully, looks wonderful. There is a lot of detail going on and you’ll most likely find yourself staring at it for a while. I also must mention that the original version of the cover art had Dahlia and Herzgo Alegni, Barrabus’ master, fighting in the background. To see this removed is slightly disappointing, but understandable as the two never cross weapons. It’s a decent cover with a beautiful background.
Neverwinter felt like the weakest Drizzt Do’Urden novel written to date, and that’s hard for me to say because I am a Drizzt fanboy. There are a lot of problems that just make Neverwinter one of the hardest, annoying novels I’ve read. The story is bland, the characters felt underused and severely underdeveloped, and there isn’t anything new added to the Drizzt series. Drizzt himself is annoying and almost unbearable. He just comes off as whiny and doesn’t seem to really do much. Drizzt didn’t grow as the progressed and he felt like the same old character that hasn’t really changed that much as the years passed. The story is as disappointingly simple as possible. There is hardly a story, focusing more on action. This makes everything suffer because the characters felt thin and underdeveloped. Truth be told, Neverwinter felt like it should have just been a short story. Thankfully, there are two bright spots that do help in making Neverwinter bearable. Those two are Dahlia and Barrabus. Both of these characters were the only ones that felt like they grew as the story went on. Barrabus was amazingly good. You wanted to know how he round-up in the situation he is in and you are glad to seem that he has changed as the years have passed. With Dahlia, she is just great. She makes the scenes with Drizzt bearable, and at times she’s the only good thing. Unfortunately, these two don’t save the novel from being as weak as it is. When it comes down to it, Neverwinter is just disappointing and I can only really recommend it to die-hard Drizzt fans.