Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
I'm noticing that the more I love an author's work, the longer the review.
So, strap in. And be warned. This will NOT be short. This work deserves a detailed review. You deserve more than a cursory review on this series.
Keep in mind that I read this series many, many years ago, and began writing this review in the hopes that once I listened to it as soon as it hit my library, it would be a positive work. And it is. I'm glad, because I also was ready to give it a scathing review if poorly produced.
First a bit of background on the author. I've thoroughly enjoyed R.A. Savaltore's fantasy writing for many years, and consider a fair portion of his writing (and listening) to be essential additions to any Audible listener's library. Granted, no author's entire body of work is perfect, and Salvatore' is definitely NOT an exception to this tried and true literary rule. Some of his earlier work reflects an author still finding his way, and is uninspired and drifting. However, when he penned the Drizzt origin trilogy, he moved into a more masterful and inspired writing direction, creating dynamic and page-turning writing enjoyed by fantasy readers and listeners around the world.
Today, Salvatore is, essentially, a stand-apart Wordsmith among the myriad of fantasy authors to whom you've listened. Anyone who's read his DemonWars Saga, his Forgotten Realms, and Star Wars novels understands why I appreciate what this fantastic author brings to the literary table.
So, on to this first in the Drizzt origin trilogy.
Why is this series so important, and therefore, such an essential fantasy addition to your Audible library?
Salvatore's trilogy has some of the most engaging fantasy writing you'll quite possibly read. His sweeping and vivid descriptions of Menzoberranzan, the cavernous underdark kingdom of the drow elves, the intricate machiavellian backstabbing plots between the drow ruling houses, and even within Drizzt's own horribly dysfunctional family, and the spot on engaging storyline were well received by the public. The trilogy eventually launched numerous sequels and novels by Salvatore and other enjoyable novels in the crow universe by equally inspired authors (See my Audible Spider Queen series review, and expect my Icewind Dale review in the future!). This fantastic body of work has made a HUGE impact on modern epic fantasy, and it raised the bar on what we could, and SHOULD, expect from good fantasy writing.
And in this case, our very valuable Audible credits.
As usual, I do NOT provide spoilers, nor plot giveaways in review. Again, the journey, ESPECIALLY in this series, has its own voyage of discovery that simply must be experienced firsthand. I'm confident that some of you will will mark this review as not helpful for this reason. So be it. I will not spoil this fantastic journey for the rest of you. There is so much to the drow novels, that you are going to by busy, and pleasantly so. Here's one SMALL example. Here's a list of the MAJOR drow houses, and all play a part in these fantastic novels:
The MAJOR houses of Menzoberranzan, in order of dominance (There ARE others):
2. Barrison Del'Armgo
3. Oblodra (challenged by another house in another novel)
4. DeVir (challenged by another house in this novel)
5. Hun'ett (challenged by another house in another novel)
6. Faen Tlabbar
8. Agrach Dyrr (challenged by another house in another novel)
10. Do'Urden (later challenged by another house in another novel)
I challenge you - Go look on the web for the astounding collection of information and lore on the lore of these novels. It's rich. It's daunting. It's exhausting. it's consuming.
Now, on to Salvatore's writing style. He's not an Erikson or Moorcock. Those artists take their time in descriptive writing that requires strong focus to be enjoyed. Salvatore's style is more like the lovechild of Brooks and Chalker - Down to earth, a bit more to the point, yet vividly descriptive. I found myself getting wonderfully lost inside this trilogy, and I'm betting you will too.
Keep in mind that years ago, there was an earlier audiobook of this trilogy. It was intolerable, due to the unpleasant narration - It truly ruined the effort. I stayed up late to download this audiobook, and begin my listening. Here, the narrator is much better, and doesn't impede the author's work. Nicely done, and a wonderful improvement, Mr. Bevine!
So, be warned, dear Audible listener. You're going to be spoiled by this work, and you're going to demand equally good listening of your fantasy authors.
You'll also want to get the other two audiobooks in this fantastic series, and want the rest of the drow audiobooks here at Audible.
Finally, a tremendous "Thank you!" To R. A. Salvatore.
I'm still enjoying your journey after all these years.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Home run, Jim. Home run.
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