Review: The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

The Companions by R.A. Salvatore“The Companions is the best novel [R.A.] Salvatore has ever written. It’s insanely courageous, profoundly powerful, masterfully constructed, and easily Salvatore’s most ambitious work to date.”
—Paul Goat Allen, BarnesandNoble.com

“After a quarter of a century, R.A. Salvatore just keeps getting better and better, and The Companions is another masterful leap forward for one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time.”
—Philip Athans, best-selling author of Annihilation and The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff

This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore’s beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore’s signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt’s fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life–the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.

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Review

I have very little knowledge when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons. I know it’s original form is a table top game, it has grown beyond into other mediums, it’s genre is fantasy, and it’s quite the popular game, but other than that I know nothing. Why did I decide to read The Companions then? A few years back one of my friends was always making reference to, or quoting, Warhammer 40K. Naturally I became curious and had to know what he was on about. I first read one of the books based on the game and it far exceeded my expectations. Granted it didn’t lead into an interest in playing the game, but I marvel at the world-building and thoroughly enjoy the universe in it’s literature counterpart.

I thought I would give The Companions a try and see if it would have the same affect. Of course I was wary in the beginning. I’m not exactly a huge fan of fantasy anymore and I realise, while Warhammer 40K is also a tabletop game grown into other mediums, 40k and Dungeons and Dragons are not alike. One is fantasy, one is dark science-fiction, and I really dislike fantasy cliches.

To The Companions unfortunate detriment I had no idea what was going on. Until the main characters were reborn, I was floundering with the settings, the characters, the point of view, the whole story. I don’t feel that’s entirely due to my lack of knowledge when it comes to the D&D universe either.

There’s still a-typical standards of fantasy in The Companions present, but the beginning came across as a jumble. I could discern what characters were and the basic plot, but I found it difficult to follow between point of views. It didn’t help that I hadn’t read any of, or heard of, Salvatore’s character Drizzt beforehand. I think it’s safe to say this is not a stepping stone into the D&D world for non-aficionados.

As the story carried on I became interested, particularly in the character’s rebirth experience, but I found Catti-brie’s need to reaffirm what she was doing and why throughout, jarring. The repetition and telling distracted me from the story and to make things worse, introduction of a character at the end made me wonder what the point was to something that occurred in the beginning.

I did find a couple of the characters endearing and interesting, actually I would have preferred to have followed their individual story lines without their main objective existing, but for the most part I had to purposely focus my attention to continue with the story. I’m not interested in following beyond The Companions either, not due to unfavourable writing or uninteresting characters, but I just think Dungeons and Dragons isn’t for me. Maybe in a video game, maybe, but not in literature.

For fans, I don’t know what I can tell you. There’s plenty of shared out attention to each character if you have previously followed the Drizzt storyline, although to be honest I completely skipped over Drizzt’s P.O.V.’S (his reflections bored me and I put this down to not knowing who he was), and from what I can tell there has definitely been a set-up for intrigue and battles in the following instalment.

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