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    Review of ROAD OF THE PATRIACH by R. A. Salvatore (see his website)


    Wizards of the Coast, October 2006

    They may be a Drow and an assassin, but they played a critical role in the defeat of a magical construct--an entire castle that held the soul of a dragon. King Gareth decides that great rewards have been earned and he names the assassin, Artemis Entreri an apprentice-knight. Entreri's companion, dark elf Jarlaxle, has his own plans, though--plans that are deeper than Entreri, or even the other Drows dare imagine. He announces that Entreri is king of the construct--and the lands around it. Gareth has his own plans for the land around the castle and another King is not part of his scheme--the path seems to lead nowhere but to war. Still, Jarlaxle's plans go far beyond a simple battle for control of a dark and frozen land.

    If Jarlaxle is unusual for a Drow, Entreri is stranger for an ex-assassin. He holds a burning distrust for authority figures and fears to connect to another person, yet he desperately craves that connection as well. Rounding out the strange group, dwarf Athrogate has his own secrets, his own past, and his own nightmares.

    Author R. A. Salvatore (see more reviews of novels by Salvatore) continues his Sellswords series with a book that steps away from the 'quest' cliche to delve more deeply into character and motivation. Salvatore's always strong writing brings a complex world to life--as the multitude of races and societies of this fantasy world try to coexist or carve out a place for themselves.

    Although the story was that of Entreri's growth, the active character through most of the book is Jarlaxle. Jarlaxle has decided to open Entreri's heart, after Entreri worked so hard to close it. Jarlaxle is the one who decides to create a new kingdom, with Entreri as king. Jarlaxle organizes the (pathetic) defense of that kingdom, then deals with the assassin guild to help Entreri escape from the consequences of that rebellion. Only at the end does Entreri really take a leadership role--and that is limited largely to learning the truth about his parents.

    ROAD OF THE PARIARCH has everything needed to be a really powerful addition to fantasy fiction. But it was hard to identify with the characters, understand why they were making the choices they made, and hard to really care about the outcome since the characters, especially Entreri, didn't seem to care. It's a tough challenge for any writer to make us care about a character who really doesn't care whether he lives or dies. Unfortunately, Salvatore doesn't quite pull it off.

    Fans of this series will definitely want to see how Entreri deals with his past. Salvatore is a capable writer and ROAD OF THE PATRIARCH is certainly worth the read--but it falls a bit short of what it almost was.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 12/20/06

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