Neverwinter by R.A. Salvatore

I miss the Companions of the Hall but this is a necessary turn for the Drizzt series.

3/5 stars.
Hardcover, 346 pages.
Read from June 14, 2018 to June 20, 2018.

This series is my reliable go-to when I am in a book slump and this saga has, in general, been a good surprise and turn from Salvatore’s standard fare.

Drizzt has begun a new life. One remiss of his old companions. He is burdened by grief and anger but also a guilty sense of freedom that he was not expecting. This newfound feeling scares him as he feels himself becoming more primal, more dark-elf-like. He agrees to help his new companion and lover Dahlia on her quest for revenge, a prospect that he never would have agreed to before. Dahila intrigues Drizzt as she is a warrior and a woman that he has never known before. Their ventures bring them face to face with old frenemies that make Drizzy nostalgic and confused about his path and his moral choices.

After a solid start to this saga with Gauntlgrym, this novel was a little lacklustre. However, there is a great spoiler in the novel that confirmed my suspicions about Barrabus’ real identity that was exciting. I do have to admit though, I miss Drizzt’s regular companions and his old life but Salvatore had to make this move. When you are this far into a series you need to keep your characters dynamic and adaptable and this saga of novels delves deep into the core of Drizzt’s moral compass.

What works with this saga is that it is dark and that Drizzt needs to get in touch with his inner self again which mirrors what made the first books in this series so memorable.  This book, however, does seem weighted down with a lot of side plots and not-so-memorable characters making for a plot that isn’t as concise or fluid as others.

While I miss the old companions and mourn them I can see the necessity of this change. However, it doesn’t stop me from hoping that they will all magically make a come back at some point.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neil

We were just acting out the strangest, tragic little roles, pretending to be criminals in order to get by. We gave very convincing performances.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 368 pages.
Read from June 4, 2018 to June 14, 2018.

This book has been heralded with awards and accolades for its unique and outspoken story about Baby, a twelve-year-old girl just trying to make sense of the world and how she fits into it.

Baby is her name. Her real name, not some cute nickname. Baby’s parents were very young when they had her with her mother exiting from her life at an early age. Jules, Baby’s father, loves her but unfortunately, he seems to love heroin more. Jules does the best he can but often finds himself in less than ideal situations for raising a child. While Baby is on the cusp of leaving her childhood behind her, she tells her story with the frankness that can only come from that of a child yet she is slowly becoming more aware of how abnormal her life is with her father as she ages. While there are many pervasive aspects to this novel involving sexuality, drugs and prostitution, the quirky and honest way that Baby delivers her story makes for an enthralling combination of awe, shock and amusement.

“Suddenly I realized that I wanted everything to be as it was when I was younger. When you’re young enough, you don’t know that you live in a cheap lousy apartment. A cracked chair is nothing other than a chair. A dandelion growing out of a crack in the side walk outside your front door is a garden. You could believe that a song your partner was singing in the evening was the most tragic opera in the world. It never occurs to you when you are very young to need something other than what your parents have to offer you.”

The success of this book comes with how the author has delivered it in combination with some beautiful, and at times, poignant writing. Baby’s understanding and sense of the world is appropriate for her age yet reflective and insightful enough to engage any reader. Even if you had the idea of a normal childhood, the delivery of Baby’s story will still appeal to you because of how she approaches childhood and the insights she has on it. Childhood, in many ways, is horrible and magnificent time, which is reflective of the tone of this book. It is a portion of our lives that we can truly never ever relive or experience again for better and for worse.

“As a kid, you have nothing to do with the way the world is run; you just have to hurry to catch up with it.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Baby’s story and found the book to be highly readable and engaging. I think most fiction lovers will appreciate this quirky, awkward and honest rendition of a peculiar and traumatizing childhood.

Gauntlgrym by R.A. Salvatore

“Even the short-lived humans divide their lives into segments, though they rarely recognize the transient truth as they move through one or another stage of their existence.”

4/5 stars.
Hardcover, 345 pages.
Read from June 4, 2018 to June 8, 2018.

Yup, 20 books into this gigantic series now.  It is actually really nice to have a reliable series of books to fall on that you know will be an easy and comforting read but will also offer a margin of excitement. This book seems to have revived some new life into the series and I haven’t enjoyed a Drizzt book like this in a long time.

Drizzt and Bruenor have been through a lot together as friends. So many doors have closed in their old lives but Bruneor wants one last adventure. The adventure will help Bruenor with the grief he is unable to shake and Drizzt to begin to finally process his and what the future will mean for him. The two set off to find the legendary dwarven hall of Gauntlgrym, which is reminiscent of the time they set off to find Mithral Hall, however, the lack of their regular companions weighs heavy on both of them. In their search for the mysterious hall, they encounter a looming catastrophe that if not dealt with will envelop and destroy the area of Neverwinter completely. During their adventures, they run into Jarlaxle and Athrogate who have found themselves deeply caught up in the disaster looming below Neverwinter. While Drizzt has never considered Jarlaxle a friend he isn’t an enemy either. Drizzt feels a renewed energy in having a connection to his old life around and he begins to have a better understanding of the moral compass that drives Jarlaxle as he begins to question his own.

This storyline of this book is dark and has some unexpected twists and finalizing deaths which, as a fan is hard to come to terms with. Drizzt’s character dynamics take a stark turn in this book and I imagine it will only continue to unfold. I also have my suspicions about a villain character called Barrbarus the Grey as he sounds too reminiscent of a character that had a prominent role in previous Drizzt books. I have not figured out how it would be possible considering how much time has passed but I am eager to read the next book to find out.

A lot of fans did not seem to be happy with this book but I think it is because Salvatore intentionally took Drizzt’s story in a new direction to keep his story fresh. I personally think that this book was a success and I am interested to see how this new storyline progresses. Overall, it has made me excited about devouring the next few books in this series and already have them checked out from the library.