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.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

“Of course it was Loki. It’s always Loki.”

“Odin blew some of the mead out of his behind, a splattery wet fart of foul-smelling mead right in Suttung’s face, blinding the giant and throwing him off Odin’s trail. No one, then or now, wanted to drink the mead that came out of Odin’s ass. But whenever you hear bad poets declaiming their bad poetry, filled with foolish similes and ugly rhymes, you will know which of the meads they have tasted.”

4/5 stars.
Hardcover, 297 pages.
Read from June 23, 2017 to June 29, 2017.

Short and easy read. Check!
By Neil Gaiman. Check!
About Norse Gods. Check!
Full mischief and debauchery. Check!

I could add a few more reasons as to why I wanted to pick up this book but I think those are great place start. Full of Gaiman’s charm, this novel recreates the stories of the Norse gods that is appropriate for nearly any audience.

Starting with the Norse version of Genesis, the creation of the world and the gods themselves, each chapter is a short story in and of itself. Odin is the highest ranking and wisest god, while his son Thor is strong but not the most tactful god. Loki, who is always mischievous and beguiling, causes more trouble than he is worth and yet somehow the rest of the gods keep him around. I suppose he is the best at manipulating after all. There are many other masterful gods, giants and even dwarfs mentioned in the stories.

Did you know that the names of the seven days of the week have a Norse influence? They also have a Roman influence but here is basic break down:

Sunday comes from Old English “Sunnandæg,” which is derived from a Germanic interpretation of the Latin dies solis, “sun’s day.” Germanic and Norse mythology personify the sun as a goddess named Sunna or Sól.

Monday likewise comes from Old English “Mōnandæg,” named after Máni, the Norse personification of the moon (and Sól’s brother).

Tuesday comes from Old English “Tīwesdæg,” after Tiw, or Tyr, a one-handed Norse god of dueling. He is equated with Mars, the Roman war god.

Wednesday is “Wōden’s day.” Wōden, or Odin, was the ruler of the Norse gods’ realm and associated with wisdom, magic, victory and death. The Romans connected Wōden to Mercury because they were both guides of souls after death. “Wednesday” comes from Old English “Wōdnesdæg.”

Thursday, “Thor’s day,” gets its English name after the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder, strength and protection. The Roman god Jupiter, as well as being the king of gods, was the god of the sky and thunder. “Thursday” comes from Old English “Þūnresdæg.”

Friday is named after the wife of Odin. Some scholars say her name was Frigg; others say it was Freya; other scholars say Frigg and Freya were two separate goddesses. Whatever her name, she was often associated with Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility. “Friday” comes from Old English “Frīgedæg.”

As for Saturday, Germanic and Norse traditions didn’t assign any of their gods to this day of the week. They retained the Roman name instead. The English word “Saturday” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Sæturnesdæg,” which translates to “Saturn’s day.”” – Live Science

For those like American Gods, (spoilers) you can see where Gaiman came up with some names for his characters. This is the third book that Gaiman has written about gods and Norse gods in particular (American Gods, Anansi Boys).

Many of the stories in this book are very humorous while also offering some sort of moral or philosophical piece of advice to walk away with as well. The quote I have already mentioned above, about drinking Mead that came out of Odin’s ass, actually made me snort out loud on the bus. I may have received some funny looks.

Trickery, violence, mead and trying to get women to marry are the main themes in this book; accompanied with relatable, silly and inspiring gods at the centrepiece. Gaiman has managed to keep the content about the gods while interweaving an engaging and exciting story. You really can’t go wrong! If you like Norse mythology, gods, fart jokes, Thor, Loki or just a really easy story then you will appreciate this novel.

The Ghost King by R.A. Salvatore

One the best Drizzt books I have read in a long while.

4/5 stars.
Hardcover, 352 pages.
Read from April 26, 2017 to May 4, 2017.

One of the things I love the most about the stories of Drizzt is the connection and companionship that all the characters have. Salvatore also does a great job at keeping the characters interesting and connected, no matter where their adventures take them. That, and Drizzt is hella-talented with his scimitars and pretty much has no match. Mix in a zombie-Dragon that references a plot line from some of the very first books in the series and you have a great way to revive a lagging story line.  I have now read 19 books in this series and there are still 11 more to go, and counting, until I reach the end. Considering I never had any intentions of reading them this far, I’d say I have done pretty well.

Cattibrie is thriving in her magic studies since an injury to her hip and leg has left her unable to fight. However there is something horribly wrong in the fray of the magic world and in front of Drizzt’s eyes, Cattibrie sinks into a coma in which she stuck between the real world and that of a magical purgatory. In an effort to save his wife, Drizzt and his companions journey to find their old friend Cadderly, a priest with substantial healing powers. They learn that the magical world has suddenly become unstable and that an old nemesis, once thought destroyed, the Crenshinibon is responsible.  This evil has also reawakened and revived some old enemies who have a score to settle. In order to save Cattibrie as well as the realm of magic, Drizzt and his friends need to destroy the source once and for all.

This book renewed my faith in the Legend of Drizzt series. It brought back some of my favourite characters, Jarlaxle and Cadderly, and made reference to a plot from one of my favourite books in the series, The Crystal Shard. This book was a much-needed boost after the previous book I read (The Pirate King), which seemed forced and dull. By revisiting the roots of the story of Drizzt, Salvatore has put new life into his long series. While nothing will replace the love I have for the original and first three books in the whole series, it is nice to see that Salvatore is still capable of putting out quality plot lines with the same loveable characters.  Oh, and not to mention. ZOMBIE DRAGON. That, in and of itself, is worth reading.

I would most definitely recommend this book to Salvatore and fantasy fans. It is worth working your way up to in the series.