Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Crystal Shard by R. A. Salvatore

The Crystal Shard is the fourth book in R. A. Salvatore's Legend of Drizzt series. It is also the first book in the Icewind Dale trilogy. This book gives us our first glimpse at several characters who will later be known as the Companions. The book is divided into two sections. In the first part the barbarian tribes who live in the frozen tundra north of Icewind Dale are brought together to attack the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. The Ranger Drizzt Do'Urden is a drow elf. A dark elf from the great city of Menzoberrranzan. The drow are know as a treacherous and evil race. Drizzt has escaped his heritage and lives on the surface with his friends, the dwarven leader Bruenor, Bruenor's adopted human daughter Catti-Brie, and a halfling named Regis. Drizzt helps the people of Icewind Dale, first by scouting the attacking barbarians, then by fighting on the side of the Ten Towns. During the battle Bruenor knocks a young barbarian named Wulfgar unconscious. After the battle Bruenor takes the young Wulfgar and indentures him for five years to atone for the attack on Ten Towns.

Five years later the story picks up with Wulfgar becoming close to the dwarf and the others. Bruenor makes the young barbarian a great weapon, the battle hammer Aegis-Fang. Drizzt then teaches Wulfgar the art of fighting. During this time a failed wizard named Akar Kessel is left to die by his treacherous colleagues. He comes across the Crystal Shard named Crenshinibon. This crystal is a sentient artifact that is obsessed with power. The wizard begins using the shard to gain control over orcs and trolls. He is joined by a demon named Errtu. Together they decide to use the Crystal to conquer. Of course their first test attack is on the Ten Towns. Once again the Ten Towns must fight a horde of enemies. What is the outcome of this battle and how does it affect our heroes? You have to read the book to find out. I've told you enough already.

The book is a classic example of excellent Sword and Sorcery Fantasy. Salvatore is a master of this genre. He is well known for his fight scenes. His blow by blow description makes the battles come alive. It would be unfair to just consider this to be a slash and spell kind of book. One of the most important themes of the book is the growth of the character of Wulfgar. As a barbarian he has to overcome his racial hatred for the people of the Ten Towns, the dwarfs, and most of all, Drizzt. His growth during the time he serves Bruenor is not just in age and physical stature. He also grows in his understanding of others. How he uses that growth is an important part of the story and of subsequent novels.

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