It's been a very long time since I last read a Drizzt Do'Urden novel, much less anything set in the Forgotten Realms, so I was excited about the opportunity to reacquaint myself with R.A. Salvatore's heroic dark elf and find out how his companions fared. Sadly, I should have either saved myself the trouble, or taken the time to investigate what The Sundering is all about.
Basically, The Sundering is the story of giant reboot, designed to shoehorn existing characters and settings into a 'simplified' set of 5th edition rules, to be dubbed D&D Next. The Companions is the first book of that reboot.
I don't like reboots.
As the story begins, Drizzt's friends (all of whom are deceased), find themselves reincarnated, with all of their memories intact, and a shared purpose to meet again and resume their companionship. Um, yeah. Silliness aside, the resurrection of Wulfgar is probably the last thing I remember of Forgotten Realms, and that mistake is a large part of what caused me to drift away. So, to multiply that mistake with the likes of Regis, Cattie-brie, and Bruenor, is to ensure the series gets off to a rocky start. It felt like a Terry Goodkind-like attempt to artifically extend a series, except he does it by taking away powers and memories, whereas Salvatore does it by giving them back. As for Drizzt, he's more of a framing device and less of a character here, which is a shame because he's always been the most interesting of the lot.
So, basically, what we get here are three heroes, trapped in the bodies of children, forced to pretend they don't know or remember things that should be impossible. It's an awkward kind of coming-of-age story, and while it does have its interesting moments, it all feels very scattered - which is not surprising when you're following multiple characters across two decades. There are some snippets of battle scenes, and some other adventures that evoked memories of earlier books like The Crystal Shard, but it somehow all feels artificial. What's more, there was no doubt, no tension, and no real suspense as to whether they would all make it to their eventual rendezvous . . . not to mention a climax that just falls flat.
I could be wrong, and my reading may be colored by the end-goal of The Sundering, but it all felt like a story Salvatore was told he had to provide, not an adventure he wanted to write. It's not necessarily a bad book - die-hard readers of Forgotten Realms will likely enjoy it - but, for me, it lacked the magic and the mystery I remembered from my original adventures with Drizzt.
Knowing what I know now about The Sundering, I doubt I'll continue with the series.
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