Book info

The Crystal Shard (2007)

The Crystal Shard (2007)
Rating
4.12 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0786942460 (ISBN13: 9780786942466)
languge
English
publisher
wizards of the coast
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The Crystal Shard (2007)
The Crystal Shard (2007)

About book: After reading a chapter or two, I realized to my surprise that I have never actually read this first Salvatore novel before. It's a strange experience, because I know the story of Drizzt so well from other books and other media, to the point that it feels like I must have read this previously...but I definitely hadn't.Back when TSR published this novel in 1988, it was trying to distance itself from a lot of the pre-existing gaming properties that it had published when Gary Gygax was running the company. The company had had good success with the Dragonlance series, and so it'd cast about, looking for other authors. It had to get rid of the "Gord the Rogue" series, and in general wanted to cut off all ties with the old Greyhawk campaign setting. The company chose Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms as the setting that would then become the default AD&D game setting, and The Crystal Shard was the first attempt to engage gamers in "the Realms" as fiction. Being disdainful of the change and contemptuous of the company's handling of Gary Gygax, I effectively boycotted most of this stuff, which I realize now is why I didn't read this when it was published. It's a shame, because (just like the Dragonlance books) I probably would have enjoyed this book a great deal more as a teenager.The story is pretty good, but it is clearly an outline of an AD&D campaign, with the halfling thief (Regis), dwarven fighter (Bruenor), human barbarian (Wulfgar), and dark elven ranger (Drizzt) as archetypal player characters. Each character is given equal weight in the story, which feels strange in retrospect because Drizzt retroactively became the major protagonist in the repackaging of the book and its sequels (the copy I read labels this as "Legend of Drizzt volume four"). Drizzt is definitely not the main character in this book; the party of PCs is. The campaign is epic in scope, with the characters battling giants, employing large-force tactics on the battlefield, casting spells, using magic items, slaying a dragon, collecting loot, defeating a dark wizard, banishing a demon, countering an evil artifact, and winning a war. As far as I know, TSR did not create a series of modules to accompany this book (as they did with the Dragonlance books), and that's surprising, because this book reads like a gaming session, complete with goofy player dialogue in silly accents. Really, in the other books I never noticed Drizzt or his friends speaking in such stilted, pompous upper crust English. In this book, with all of his "I shan't hold you to that" dialog, I couldn't help but imagine Drizzt speaking in a prissy Jacob Rees-Mogg dialect, which was so funny it enhanced my enjoyment of what is really a decent plot presented with awful writing.One passage actually elicited an involuntary guffaw from me. Sadly, it was unintended humor. I mean, the writing is bad, but I didn't actually expect to find a gem of a Bulwer-Lytton contest entry within its pages. Here it is (from page 278): "His concern touched Regis, as would a starving man crying out for food." You know, because the only thing that makes life bearable for a hobo who hasn't eaten in four days is the sweat of a halfling. Everybody knows this, just as halfling dander is a powerful narcotic. Regis has starving men touching him all the time; it's a natural hazard of being a halfling in a world of malnourished humans.That's a stand-out in the bad writing contest, but the rest of the book isn't much better. The whole thing is written in a strangely remote passive voice that is completely narrative with no demonstrative elements at all. Put another way: the book tells us what the characters are doing, what they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they are going to do, without ever just showing us simply through their behavior. There is no subtext to any of the characters; thought, emotion, motivation...everything is presented to us as fact. It's so weird and so consistent that it feels intentional. The result is that the book feels like a story that comes from an oral tradition, so like a Norse saga, the poem of Beowulf, or a Homeric tale that it feels even weirder that it isn't in verse. There's little complexity and the narrative declares what each person is thinking and what they plan before they actually take action. I'm convinced that this first novel was not planned as the beginning of an endless series of books about Drizzt. There's so much in this book, and a great deal of it includes the plots of several of the books that were written later (particularly the entire "Dark Elf Trilogy"); it's clear that Salvatore had no idea that he would write more after this, so he stuffed as much as possible into this one book. It's like George Lucas filming Star Wars: a New Hope as the one story he was going to tell in the middle of the longer series, and only after it did monster box office did he go back and start to plan to tell the rest of the stories.The main reason that I'm glad I've read this now is that I finally have more of a connection to more of the characters in the Legend of Drizzt board game. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone older than 15, and even then only with a big caveat about it being Salvatore's first book.

Okay,This book introduces two more important characters into the series. First, a fat lazy halfling named Regis. He becomes the quindisential troublmaking theif. Secondly, a human barbarian named Wulfgar(beowulf?). Salvatore spends a lot of time working out the polotics of Icewind Dale, and specificly the area of Ten Towns (which has, as you may have guessed, 10 towns located around 3 lakes). Unfortunatly, after this series, the characters don't spend much time in this area...mores the pity.Anywho, Wulfgar becomes Brunor Battlehammer's second adopted human when he is knocked unconcious on the battlefield by Brunor. All his tribesmen were slaughted during a raid on the dwarves, but kindly Brunor decides to make a 'slave' of the young barbarian and teach him to become a blacksmith. As Wulfgar grows up he also grows to love the dwarf father, as well as befriend Drizzt, who has become his tutor in battle.Brunor makes Wulfgar a magical hammer that he dubs 'Agis Fang', a super powerful weapon that can fell giants in one blow, and always returns to its master's hand when summond. So, the antagonist in this story is a dumb wizard's aprentice who betrays his master to another wizard, only to have the second wizard teleport him to the frozen top of a mountain to cover his ass (the second wizard is never heard of again. I think its a little bit thin...) However, as the apprentice realizes his mistake and cries out in his own selfpity, a sentient crystal calls out to him, promising power. The crystal is an amazingly powerful and evil artifact. So, the stupid apprentice gets lots of power and creates a magnificent tower, a replica of the shard itself, on the top of frozen mountain. The evil artifact starts to call any and all evil beings to it: goblins and orcs and giants and yetis and all kinds of evil things. Eventually, the stupid apprentice summons a powerful demon from the abyss, named Ertu.During all of this, Drizzt and Wulfgar go on a sort of gradutation adventure together. they head out into the tundra and find a white dragon's lair. They kill it and Drizzt gets a magical sword that hates fire; he names it 'Icing Death'. On their return journey, they discover some giants near the towns and overhear their plot to scout and attack the Ten Towns. They kill them, and warn everybody.Eventually, the stupid apprentice brings his tower and whole army into the midst of the Ten Towns, Brunor brings dwarves to fight them. After much distruction, the towns are saved and the apprentice is killed. Drizzt has a one on one battle with the demon, Ertu. He would have lost, had not his new sword saved him in the end. Ertu is banished back to the Abyss with a huge grudge for the dark elf. Regis is made a leader of one of the Ten Towns. And all is well!
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Reviews
Mark
I loved the Drizzt Do'Urden stories when I was in my mid-teens. For a long time I've been looking forward to revisiting the dual-scimitar-wielding dark elf character in this Icewind Dale trilogy. By a reasonable metric this trilogy would be the first Drizzt series: chronologically it comes after the Dark Elf trilogy, however it was written first and introduces some of the supporting cast -- characters who, when they appear in the Dark Elf trilogy, are treated like familiar faces even though you'll never have heard of them before unless you read this trilogy first.So nearly 20 years after reading the Dark Elf trilogy I finally and with great anticipation return to Drizzt and read The Crystal Shard. I must say that the Drizzt stories have not sustained my appreciation as well as I'd hoped they could. This book has its good moments, for instance the chapter that describes Bruenor's forging of his battlehammer was quite nice, and Drizzt's own "journal entries" that describe his brooding personal thoughts lend an otherwise shallow story some modicum of emotion. But let's be honest; we read Drizzt books for the action, for the slashing of his twin scimitars. And this book revolves around action, but the action scenes aren't nearly as fun as I'd hoped or remembered. If the point of fantasy is to take something fantastic and make it seem like it could be real, the scenes in The Crystal Shard fail in that entirely as the battles lack realism in a way that a Saturday morning cartoon might compare to a Lord of the Rings movie; both are fantastic in setting, but only one is really compelling. In fact, the action scenes so closely resemble blow-by-blow descriptions of Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying sessions that I now wonder how I'd never seen the connection before. Salvatore has mentioned that Drizzt and his companions began life as the RPG characters of his friends (I hope the player that created Drizzt has earned some royalties through all this). So is perhaps the entire Drizzt series just a collection of polished RPG game session summaries? It seems likely to me, or at the very least, that is exactly how it reads.At this point I'm not sure whether I will continue reading the Icewind Dale trilogy. It's not a terrible read, and there are some enjoyable moments as I've mentioned. I suppose I'll keep reading if I find I have no other compelling fantasy stories on my shelf, but let's be honest: in a world with fantasy authors like Tolkein, R.E. Howard, C.A. Smith, Moorecock, Jordan, Martin, et al, then the popcorn fiction of Salvatore will probably be sitting in my queue indefinitely.
Xoxe Garcia
El primer libro de la segunda trilogía de El Elfo Oscuro aunque, la verdad es que fue el primer libro de los Reinos Olvidados escrito por R.A. Salvatore y se nota en ocasiones cuando ves que hay pequeñas discrepancias entre esta trilogía con la de El Elfo Oscuro.Realmente no son nada alarmantes y pasan muy desapercibidos. Tras esta primera saga y tras su éxito con el personaje de Drizzt, Salvatore decidió hacer la precuela como la Leyenda de El Elfo Oscuro con muchísimo éxito.Pese a ser la primera trilogía, este primer libro es sencillamente fantástico con multitud de detalles, unas descripciones fabulosas y personajes con muchísima personalidad a los cuales se les coge mucho cariño.Me ha gustado y me ha dejado con muchas ganas de leer el segundo.
Fiver
This beginning to the Icewind Dale trilogy is a guilty pleasure at best. I fully admit that I've read eight books in the entire Drizzt series, and that this kind of novel is just the thing I need to curl up with sometimes. But the sad truth is that it is books like this one that, in my opinion, sometimes give fantasy a bad name. Mr. Salvatore is undoubtedly more talented in writing than the format of these books might suggest (I'm sure he's writing for a fairly young audience), and the success of the series shows its popularity, but with only decent writing, only one really fleshed-out character, and plot that feels like watered-down and sugared-up Tolkien (and yes, the rip-offs are many), this book just isn't really something worth reading. Drizzt, the drow (dark elf), is a classic romantic character, who is just too noble to ever show any weakness, and too good with his scimitars to ever be beaten by anything. As much as I love that idea (I plan to go as Drizzt next Halloween), it is puddle-deep. The latter Dark Elf trilogy is better and deeper writing, although still not quite literary. My suggestion? Try the Dark Elf trilogy. If it's too juvenile for you, then the Crystal Shard will be too, by bounds.
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