The Companions (Forgotten Realms: The Sundering, Book One)

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Companions (Forgotten Realms: The Sundering, Book One)
R.A. Salvatore, 2013

New Release! I received an electronic copy of this book via Netgalley for review.

Premise: Dungeons and Dragons is coming out with a new edition next year. This series of books (each focused on a different set of characters) takes place during the in-world adjustments necessary so that the abilities of the characters in the novels will match the adjustments to the rules of the game. Yes, really.

Have you ever read a book starring Drizzt Do'Urden? If the answer is no, then stop right here. Do not pass go. Do not read this book. This is a terrible, horrible jumping on point. It made next to no sense to me for large chunks of the story, and I’ve read and enjoyed books with these characters, in this world. There are some small spoilers in this review, because superfans have already pre-ordered their copy, and people with no knowledge have already clicked to something else. So a few more details for those of you on the fence:

The premise is completely inane. Until I realized what the plot of the book was going to be, I was actually intrigued, but upon the reveal, I almost quit reading right there. Now, I only read a few of the early Forgotten Realms books, so I missed all the plot that came between then and now, but apparently most of the characters died variously, and Drizzt was either killed or left for dead or something at the end of the last book. I’m just extrapolating from context here, though, that last part was unclear. However, in this book, all the main (read: popular) characters are reborn! Yay? Except Drizzt, he’s just still around.

Despite being on the cover, Drizzt is in very, very little of the book, and that’s for the best. In truth, once I got past the idiocy of the premise, the book wasn’t bad. Each character has a subplot. They’re reborn as infants, but with all the memories of their previous life. They have to walk a careful line to learn about what’s happened in the world, regain the strength or knowledge they need, and just survive when forces on the lookout for godstouched heroes or just damn bad luck could take them back out of the game.

Each storyline had aspects that I enjoyed and aspects that fell flat. As I read I remembered a little more about the characters, but Forgotten Realms was never a passion of mine, so most references to past happenings were just backstory to me.

The climax is a non-starter: nothing really happens, but the melodrama works. For a workaday fantasy novel, something light to read during my commute, it wasn’t that bad in the end.

2 Stars - An Okay Book (Feel free to add a star for every 3 Forgotten Realms books you’ve read and loved that were published after 1991, so not counting The Icewind Dale Trilogy or the Dark Elf Trilogy.)


Bob/Sally said...

Okay, nice to know I'm not the only reader a little lost and disappointed. I was excited to read another Drizzt tale, but had no idea that The Sundering was all about adjusting the characters and the world to a new AD&D edition.

I suspect I'll persevere and finish it this week, but I'm feeling less and less inclined to continue with the series.

Lindsay said...

Yeah, the premise was a little much for me. I know that some fans feel that the connection between the game rules and the books is important, but as more of a Dragonlance gal from way back, I always prefer the story to take priority over the rules. (Stupid Fifth Age was a similar type of silly mess to create sorcerers, and was when I quit that series.)

As I'm also a big comic book fan, I can be sympathetic to the desire for an in-continuity reboot, but it doesn't really fit the tone here.

I actually read the second Sundering book, too. Stay tuned for that review: I like The Companions much more in comparison...

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