For more than twenty years, R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt has been one of the most popular characters in fantasy. But after all that time and so many stories, is it possible to refresh everyone’s favorite noble Drow? In Gauntlgrym, the first installment of the Neverwinter trilogy, Salvatore does just that and opens a new path for Drizzt that fans will be excited to see play out. It’s a classic Drizzt tale with absolutely epic action, loss, and potential for all new adventures.
Gauntlgrym takes place over a period of about fifty years in the Neverwinter area and is meant to update that famous city for not only the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, but also the upcoming game from Cryptic Studios. In the first half of the book, Drizzt and Bruenor really take a back seat to establishing the state of Neverwinter prior to events in the book as well as some new characters.
Basically after a brief prologue set forty years before the main events of the story, Neverwinter is the site of two warring cults of Tieflings. Intertwined with this political backdrop is a brutal Elven warrior named Dahlia, who initially comes off as a villain in the book until she leads Jarlaxel and Athrogate to the legendary lost Dwarven city of Gauntlgrym (which Bruenor is spending his twilight years searching for) and they are mislead into unleashing a cataclysm that destroys Neverwinter and plays right into one of the cult’s plans.
Flash forward ten years and Drizzt and Bruenor become much more involved as their help is needed to prevent a much larger disaster from unfolding, which means they will be headed to Gauntlgrym and an epic finale that would fit well as the end of a trilogy; but this is just the first installment.
Drizzt is a different person in this book. He’s lost his wife Cattie-brie and Regis, and Wulfgar is assumed dead of old age. His last friend Bruenor is very old, and as such he’s beginning to feel alone. As a result his much more vicious in his fighting, and relishes it more. Jarlaxel notices this, and in an unusual showing of nobility, tries to snap Drizzt out of it. It’s a development for Drizzt that many people have been wanting to see for quite a while as many fans have felt him to be a bit stale after the last few years.
Gauntlgrym is an end of an era for Drizzt, and the beginning of a new one. As a result there’s plenty of nostalgia dripping in the scenes between Drizzt and Bruenor, and their exchanges will bring large smiles to fans faces. But with that joy comes sorrow as there are losses in the book, but they’re fitting for their characters. The finale is absolutely epic and worth the time and effort to get to. And the epilogue will leave long time fans of Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Wulfgar, and Cattie-brie in tears. Salvatore really outdid himself with this one.
If you’ve ever read a Drizzt book, you’ll enjoy Gauntlgrym and want to read the next books in the trilogy to see where the newly open road leads Drizzt. If you’re new to Drizzt, this is actually a good starting point. Gauntlgrym comes highly recommended!