Novel Review: R.A. Salvatore – Night of the Hunter (Forgotten Realms)

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Night of the Hunter
Night of the Hunter is the latest epic fantasy novel, placed in the Forgotten Realms, written by R.A. Salvatore and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Cape Rust
WOTC-Night-of-the-Hunter

Everyone’s favorite Dark Elf is back. Drizzt Do’Urden has reunited with his once dead, now living, but not undead friends to rescue Bruenor’s old friend Thibbledorf Pwent. Thibbledorf is located in the once glorious Dwarven city of Gauntlgrym. As to be expected things are not as easy as they sound. First, they must cross through a colony of drow who are hell bent on capturing or killing Drizzt. Oh, and did I mention that Tibbledorf is now a vampire?

Of all of world renowned author R.A. Salvatore’s books that I have read, this was my least favorite. The writing was on-point, the characters were well developed and the drow acted just the way you would expect drow to act; a typical Salvatore outing. So with all of these good qualities, how could this book have ended up as my least favorite of his books? Well, as you might expect, I will gladly explain my bi-polar approach to this book.

Let Sleeping Dwarves Lie; R.A. Salvatore, could have made a career out of writing books about the motley crew from Mithril Hall, but his writing skills go way beyond those beloved characters. His writing skills go beyond those characters and they should keep going. I loved following this crew and to be honest I was really happy with the way he killed them off or spread them to the 4 winds. Sure I was disappointed to see them go, but I felt like Salvatore ended their stories exactly when, where, and how they should have ended. Yes there were hints in previous books that all was not lost, but to be honest I was hoping it was. There is this trend of characters spending 4th edition in a comatose state or dying and coming back as D&D Next gets released. I do feel that this was the case for this series and while Wizards is good about getting it’s impressive stable of authors to work the passage of time into their storylines, it’s getting old and really starting to be hokey. I can see sticking with Drizzt; people love him and elves live a long time, but bringing back the rest of the crew just hasn’t set well with me.

This book is probably one of the furthest away from a standalone novel as they get. It’s part of a series, but what you won’t know going into it is that you really have to be caught up on most of the novels dealing with drow and the Companions of the Hall. The interaction between the Companions has developed in the most followed soap opera in the Forgotten Realms; you name it and it’s probably happened to this group. But their interactions are child’s play compared to the machinations of the drow. I found myself needing to spend tons of time getting to know all of the drow that came into play and what their relationships were with other drow families and who the key players were. I felt like I was setting up a drow campaign, rather than enjoying a fantasy novel. If you are well versed in drow politics, then you shouldn’t have the problems I had, but if not then I recommend brushing up on them, or just going into the book with the understanding that they are drow and there are layers upon layers of deceit and they will do bad things to one another.

For all of my complaining, there is still more good in this book than bad. That cast of characters that Salvatore fans love is back and all of the featured players have a role in this one. If you are unlike me and can’t get enough of the Companions, then this will be like an all star reunion episode and you will crave every stolen second you get with them. Being back from the dead or long sleeps, most of the characters have experienced some major changes. You might not like all of these changes, but they are interesting to see and even more interesting to figure out where these changes will take everyone in the future. If you like drow politics and are up on them, then there is plenty of overt and covert intrigue to go around. Salvatore knows drow and that extensive knowledge has allowed him to sculpt their infighting like a Matron Mother. The fight scenes were exciting and felt like they were on a large scale; sometimes it was the location, sometimes it was the effects, and sometimes it was the consequences , but most of the fights felt big.

From a gamers standpoint this is a great book to read if you are getting ready to run an Underdark or drow campaign. You will find plenty of atmosphere and intrigue to throw at your players. Salvatore’s descriptions of the weapons the characters wield is spot on and with his skilled hand actually makes them feel like additional characters at times. DMs would do well to see how Salvatore makes the fights seem epic; even at their high levels all of the Companions have troubles with their foes and must use tactics more often than brute strength. This book isn’t for your average fantasy fan, but it’s just right for your die-hard Drizzt, Companions, or drow fans. For me I will repeat, let sleeping Dwarves lie.

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