Thursday, October 1, 2009

REVIEW: The Pirate King, by R.A. Salvatore

R.A. Salvatore is one of my favorite fantasy authors, largely because of Drizzit Do'Urden, a character I absolutely adore.  So when I saw The Pirate King in the store, a novel I'd been waiting for, I was very excited, wanting to know how "The Orc King" storyline would continue.  Unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed by this story, for a number of reasons, which I'll get into.  But largely, it just lacked the continuity and polish that I've come to expect from a Drizzit novel.

The Story

The book begins with a bang, showing the uneasy truce between King Bruenor and King Obould.  They work together to fight off a common enemy to the peace in the region.  Of course, both sides anticipate betrayal by the other side, and both sides are pleasantly surprised when they work together to fight off a trio of devils and their army.  Of course, we find out quickly that the devils are part of a plot from the High Captains of Luskan, which is where the rest of the story focuses.

Drizzit and Regis set out to find Wulfar, and to see how he has fared in the last four years.  The others don't come with them because they have other things to do, which is very odd.  The traveling duo make their way to the Harpell's village, where they find things changing (the series is called Transitions, after all), and not necessarily for the better.  Brief moral interlude, the first of many, and the story continues.

They find their way to Luskan, where Captain Deudermont is busily attacking the Hosttower in an effort to stop piracy once and for all.  Drizzit and Regis interrupt their journey to join the fight, which is being carefully manipulated by the son of one the High Captains, Kensidian, who is the ultimate bad-guy in the story.  Eventually, they win the day.  Drizzit and Regis go to Icewind Dale, pause for a moral interlude, and then go find Wulfgar, alive and happy.  All in all, a wasted trip.

Meanwhile, back in Luskan, Deudermont has been appointed Governor in the wake of his victory, and has to find a way to restore piece to the town which previously had been ruled by the evil Hosttower, and the five Captains.  Of course, it doesn't go well, as the Captains plot against him.  When Drizzit and Regis return to Luskan, they find it a dreary place, full of infighting, and Deudermont dejected, but naively hopeful that he can make a difference.  The story climaxes in the battle between Deudermont's people and the other pirates, with Drizzit, of course, playing a major part.  Won't completely spoil the ending, but it's predictable, and I was annoyed by it.

My Thoughts

1.  Too much going on, which made the Drizzit "quest" a waste of everyone's time.  The meeting with Wulfgar was a wasted one, with nothing important happening.  The implication early in the story was that Wulfgar would play an important role in the events of Luskan, but he was left completely out of them.  He literally only appeared for ten pages, and then was gone.  Why the quest to find him?

2.  Too much preaching.  I touched on this before, but this book was far more about people talking about their moral dilemmas than anything else, and after awhile, it got very annoying.

3.  Why was that guy in this story?  I asked that question a couple of times.  The first time was about Kensidian's dwarf bodyguard, who was a phenomenal fighter, and worked for the "secret" people pulling strings behind the scenes (I figured out who they were halfway through the book).  He gave Drizzit a run for his money, and could have killed him a couple of times.  Who was that guy?  Why was he so good?  None of that was explained.  Then (SPOILER ALERT), why did Jaraxle have anything to do with this story?  He was another major series player who only made an appearance for a few pages.  There was no reason for him to make an appearance.

4.  Why did Obould and Bruenor not have ANY part in this story?  That was an unfinished conflict at the end of the last book, and I was looking forward to getting more of it.  Sure, they weren't the main storyline, but they were the entire first chapter, and then never made an appearance again.  Either have them in the story or don't.

5.  Personal battles ended oddly.  It seemed like all of the battles that were fought ended poorly.  Drizzit's was interrupted by magic.  Rollibard's I'm still confused about.  And Deudermont's?  Completely unbelievable.  These stories are based on individual, personal conflicts, and it felt like they were cheated out of.

I'd give this book a 3 out of 5, and that's only because I like the characters even still.  My only hope for this book is that it is trying to set up the third book, which would answer some of these questions, and tie together some stories a bit more. 

Maybe I'll go back and read the Dark Elf Trilogy, just to put myself in a better mood.


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