Monday, September 2, 2013
ARC Review: The Companions by R.A. Salvatore
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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.
Oh how I fell in love with this world!
First, let me say how I came upon this book. As a member of Netgalley, awhile back this book was available to me. I downloaded it and, because of my schedule, kept putting off reading it. I could kick myself for doing that because honest to god, this book was fantastic. It was like a combination of so many of my fave SFF books/games. I started it this morning and I could not put it down. Seriously. Even during a wicked storm we were having I grabbed the flashlight and was trying to read when the power was out. It's that entertaining.
Now, I need to give some full disclosure here. I went into this book with low expectations. Not because I had little faith in the author or content, but because I just hadn't read fantasy in awhile. I'd given it up, disillusioned by the sameness that I saw out there and unsure where to find the "good" ones. Well, this book and the author turned things around for me and exceeded all of my expectations in a huge way. The writing is superb, the narrative flows at a nice pace, and there wasn't massive confusion for me, a first time reader to this series. Histories and back-stories were explained so I wasn't confused, but they weren't so detailed that I was overwhelmed with the dates, places, and people I needed to know. I loved every bit of it and already want to re-read it again. Oh! And the twist at the end, or should I say the "surprise" to the group of friends, and me, the reader? When I read that, I actually cheered. Loudly. Ask my cat, who went running for the hills when I did!
What was favorite part of the book, you may ask? Well, I have to admit that Cattie-brie is awesome and can kick some butt with her magic. I loved watching her come into her own and learn even more about herself and her magic. Even when things were heavy and it looked pointless to continue, Cattie-brie stayed on course, intent on surviving, for the chance to see Drizzt. And can we talk about Drizzt and Cattie-brie please? Good, because even though we don't get a lot of information about these two we are given enough to know that they shared an intense and beautiful love. I haven't read the earlier series and books about Drizzt so I'm not sure if we learn more about these two in those books, but what we're given here is enough to whet my appetite for more. From what I've seen so far and how the author has written Cattie-brie and her quest to find Drizzt (among other things), and then at the end...dear god I wanted to swoon right off the couch! Yes, I know. This isn't a romance novel so why am I going on and on about it? Because I loved that aspect of it and thought it made the story more realistic and more than just your run of the mill adventure novel. It made me feel and that, in any book, in any genre, is always a bonus. The undercurrents of their relationship were written in such a way that I could feel the emotion Cattie-brie felt in her longing to reunite with Drizzt. And also gave me something else to cheer about!
Don't worry all of you who would shudder and shake at the thought of romance in your SFF (which by the way is a ridiculous thought and seriously, shame on you if you have that opinion...mixed genre in a work is a good thing since it adds, ya know, depth, realism and variety to the story...but god forbid that happens. *insert sarcastic snort here*), the romance doesn't overwhelm the book. It's just an added layer to the magic, fantasy and adventure that these characters are on. If anything it makes it well-rounded And besides, every fantasy adventure work needs a good old fashioned love story attached, right? I mean, there's nothing better than heroes and heroines fighting for goodness and love, right?! Exactly! And one the best parts of it, other than it not overwhelming the rest of the work, it that I wasn't expecting it at all. So when popped up on me, I was deliriously happy. (Okay, well maybe not deliriously, but still happy!)
One of the other aspects of this books I loved was the journey itself of the three friends, Bruenor, Regis and Cattie-brie, as they made their way to find (hopefully) Drizzt at Icewind Dale. In the beginning, when we see Cattie-brie reunite with her friends in Iruladoon, they are given a choice: go to their chosen Gods or be re-born so that they may re-join Drizzt in 21 years, when he will his Companions once again. There was much debate among them, whether to go or not, though it was never a question for Cattie-brie. She'd have the chance to see and be with Drizzt once again, to love him once again, and to fight along side him, once again. The others were conflicted though and had to consider their options. They had all lived long lives and now were ready to move on to the next plane. Did they want to go back, live another life, inside another body, with all their memories and knowledge of who they were before, biding their time until the planned meeting in Icewind Dale.
Each of them made their choice and from there we see the consequences of those choices. We also see that, even though they each have the memories of their other life and the intent to find Drizzt (hopefully) in 21 years, they do have lives to lead. And each make decisions during that time that will likely have effects on them individually and as a group, should their planned meeting take place. Regis wants to be more than what he had been the first time, pushing himself and making choices that, for me, seem questionable at best, and also dangerous. (At least one of those decisions, anyways!). Bruenor wants to do things differently but quickly learns that certain things can't be undone and that he is living again for a more important reason. Cattie-brie's decisions revolve around her wanting to learn as much as she can about her gifts, even more than she had learned in her previous life, so that she can be prepared for whatever might come their way. But she too makes certain choices that endanger herself and others, even though she doesn't mean too. All of them make mistakes, learn, and grow on their journey back to each other and being along for the ride was a blast.
And now I can't wait to read more. I want to read more of the this series and then I want to go back and glom the earlier series about these adventurers. Have you read this or any books in this series (or the series' before it?) Are you a fan of SFF? Any suggestions for other books with a similar tone and excellent writing like this has? Let me know in the comments!
Here are the purchase/info links to the book:
*I received and ARC of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*