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    Review of THE LONE DROW by R. A. Salvatore (see his website)


    Wizards of the Coast, October 2003

    Believing his friends have been killed by an orc offensive, renegade drow (dark elf) Drizzt Do'Urden begins a singlehanded war against the orc bands that stream out to join the apparently victorious cause of Obould. Aided by trolls and ice giants, the orcs appear unstoppable. The dwarves, aided by the fallen dwarf-king's adoptive human children, take up defensive positions atop a high hill with flanking forces guarding their path to the dwarf mountain fastness, but even stuborn dwarves know that they have little hope against the vast forces that the orcs bring against them.

    Normally, orc bands collapse before they can create lasting changes in order. Internal squabbles eventually break out. Obould's allies anticipate this here--the drow who have been aiding him anticipate only the great chaos that will occur as Obould attacks--and is eventually repulsed. But Obould has other plans. He has a vision of a time when orcs can trade with other nations, can claim a country of their own, can exist among civilized people rather than be treated as monsters to be slaughtered. A victory over the dwarves will carve out the territory he needs to stake this claim. And the odd gift of semi-divinity by the orc god appears to make this dream a possibility--much to the surprise, and dismay, of his allies.

    THE LONE DROW is the second novel in author R. A. Salvatore's (see more reviews of fantasy by Salvatore) Hunter's Blade Trilogy. With characters established and the primary protagonists (Drizzt and his human love interest Catti-brie) separated throughout the book, Salvatore turns to action to keep the plot moving. Most of the novel details the tactical moves made by orc or dwarf armies, and the clash of weapons as Drizzt faces orc, drow, and giant enemies. Salvatore's strong narative voice keeps the reader engaged. Fans of Salvatore, especially readers who enjoyed THE THOUSAND ORCS (see our review) are certain to enjoy this novel as well. This is not the right place to begin the series, however. If you aren't already involved with the characters, THE LOEN DROW is not written to bring you in.

    Salvatore accepts the convention that dwarves are good and orcs are bad. But Obould is not simply bad--he's a hero for his people, attempting to lead them out of the bondage that they have been held in for centuries. It will be interesting to see whether the third novel in the series can continue the sophisticated balance between a simple moralistic battle of good and evil and the development of sympathetic characters on both sides of the conflict. Certainly the entire character of Drizzt implies that an individual of an 'evil' race can be redeemed. But can an entire race? Although Obould kills a lot of people, he certainly doesn't kill more than Drizzt or Catti-bie. I'm looking forward to see how Salvatore addresses this conundrum.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/13/03

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