Books for Role-players: R.A. Salvatore – Charon’s Claw

Charon’s Claw
Charon’s Claw is an epic fantasy novel written by R.A. Salvatore and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Lawrence “darth_kwan_doh” Grabowski

Learn more about Charon’s Claw here
Purchase Charon’s Claw (Neverwinter Saga #3)

Charon’s Claw is the third book in the Neverwinter Saga, by R.A. Salvatore. It follows Patient Zero himself, Drizzt Do’Urden, on a quest to kill Herzgo Alegni, a tiefling lord. Drizzt is joined by Dahlia, his romantic interest post Catti-brie. Dahlia seeks revenge against Alegni for past acts and Drizzt, like any good boyfriend, pretty much follows along. Although he isn’t exactly sure why Dahlia is so set on killing Alegni, Drizzt seems to be willing to go along because the tiefling is evil.

So we are presented with another novel about an adventurer getting in fights juxtaposed with an evil empire’s quest for some mcguffin. As expected, the two plots move inexorably towards each other, until they collide like a pair of freight trains. It has your standard fantasy necessities, cool weapons, magic, exotic beasts, and so forth. It’s entertaining and worth the read, but so what? Why should you read this book instead of another?

Well, Forgotten Realms stuff aside:

The Neverwinter Saga shows a level of character complexity missing from the first Drizzt books. This series lacks the black and white morality present in Salvatore’s early works. Drizzt isn’t fighting against some evil drow matron or dark sorcerer with an army of goblins; rather he is following someone else on a quest for revenge. Admittedly, if you know what Dahlia wants revenge for, the morality of the situation doesn’t seem terribly grey. We also see a more realistic depiction of the lives of adventurers. Drizzt himself is periodically wracked with sadness for the companions he has lost over the course of adventuring. There are no reminisces of glory here, mostly loss. All of this would have been unremarkable, simply adding depth to Drizzt, but Salvatore made a shrewd decision when he selected Drizzt and Dahlia’s other companion.

Some time ago I read that the way to create a great story was to take realistic characters and force them to confront the worst situations they could imagine. I will say that Salvatore has achieved this in the Neverwinter Saga. Drizzt and Dahlia’s traveling companion is none other than Entreri. The introduction of Drizzt’s old nemesis as an ally, however reluctant, creates a lot of possibilities for the story. It calls into question Drizzt’s morality. In early books, nothing short of dire necessity would drive him to ally with Entreri. Now, however, Drizzt accepts Entreri as an ally to help Dahlia achieve her revenge. Predictably, their methods are still at odds, which creates tension in the party. This tension is exacerbated when Drizzt senses a special connection between Dahlia and Entreri that he is not privy to.

Despite the interesting character relationships, the book did leave me unsatisfied at times. There is a succubus in it; I hate succubi. I feel characters almost never add anything to the story by being a succubus, except fanservice. The exploration of Drizzt’s emotions could have gone a little deeper as well, but at least there was something there. In contrast, Alegni had little going for him other than being a bad guy with a history with one of the characters. Nothing really brought him to life for me. It was as if Salvatore decided there would be a powerful fighter as the main villain of the story with a past tied to one of the characters, and left it at that.

Overall, I would say Charon’s Claw is a worthwhile read if you enjoy D&D books, Forgotten Realms specifically. It departs from the standard good vs. evil formula in a refreshing fashion and achieves a higher level of character depth than usual. It didn’t always do it successfully, and the main villain is a bit of a drag, but I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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