The Drizzt Novels: The Halfling's Gem by R.A. Salvatore
The Halfling’s Gem is the third fantasy book by R.A. Salvatore in the Icewind Dale trilogy and the sixth of the Legend of Drizzt novels. Originally published in 1990 by TSR in paperback and rereleased by Wizards of the Coast in 2005. The book is set in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The introduction was written by James Merendino who is a director, writer and actor. James says that the Drizzt novels may be the only ones that live up to the genre standard which is The Lord of the Rings. Where the last book Streams of Silver (click link for review knoji.com/the-drizzt-novels-streams-of-silver-by-ra-salvatore/) may resonated a little too much of that iconic book (it was still a wonderful read) The Halfling’s Gem is a wild ride halfway across the realms with a host of new characters and amazing Drizzt adventures. Drizzt is a dark elf that has forsaken the ways of the wicked Drow race. Drizzt’s scimitars are on point as always but he is dealing with moral and identity issues as befits a dark elf who is still having trouble making his way in a world that rejects him. He battles not only his mortal enemy, the pure evil that is Artemis Entreri, but his own moral code and sense of right and wrong. The race is on across the Realms in the name of friendship and honor and I couldn’t be happier to be along for the ride.
Spoiler Alert - Stop Reading if you don’t want to know more. Go to the bottom of the article for more review.
Fig #1. Original paperback cover art.
Fig #2. Legend of Drizzt, Art by Todd Lockwood
Regis is the clutches of the assassin Artemis Entreri being hauled back to the southern desert city of Calimport to answer for his theft of his magical ruby pendant and betrayal of the powerful Pasha Pook who is the leader of the thieves’ guild. Regis has made some powerful enemies and his luck has finally run out. Drizzt and Wulfgar set out after him but Cattie – Brie remains behind in the north to handle the business of retaking Mithril Hall in the name of her fallen adoptive father Bruenor Battlehammer. They are all mourning the loss of Bruenor to the shadow dragon Shimmergloom and cattie Brie will not allow Bruenor’s loss to be in vain. She travels to Silverymoon to enlist the aid of Alustrial and the armies of the north to undertake this quest.
Unbeknownst to the grieving companions, Bruenor has survived his flaming death ride on the back of the dragon into the bowels of the occupied dwarven stronghold, and though weak and injured, his spirit is indomitable and he struggles to make his way out of the halls. Bruenor is confused as to why he remained unburned as he does not understand the magical properties of Drizzt’s scimitar called Icing death which he had recovered and carries with him still. Surrounded by druegar, or dark dwarves, he bides his time and uses disguise and cunning to get out of the mines. After being exposed, Bruenor makes a mad dash across the open expanses of the undercity and, hoping his new found fire resistance holds out, rushes into a forge and climbs up a chimney to make his escape. When he reaches the top and works his way out of the hole he succumbs to the many wounds of his ordeal and passes out with his legs still dangling over the long shaft back down to the mines. Alustriel recovers Bruenor from the side of the mountain and tends to his wounds until he is well enough to travel back to Silverymoon after which he is finally reunited with his daughter. She informs him of her plans to retake Mithril Hall in the spring and together they decide to go after Regis and to aid Drizzt and Wulfgar. Aided by Alustriel, Bruenor and Catti-brie rush to the south on a flying flaming chariot trusting the preparations for war to his compatriots.
Meanwhile, the road has been long for Drizzt and Wulfgar. They make a stop at the unstable wizarding family known as the Harpells where Drizzt is given the gift of a scimitar that he names twinkle and is told the location of another magical item that will help them on their quest. After a struggle with a banshee they obtain a magical mask that Drizzt can wear to hide his dark heritage and speed their journey along. Drizzt struggles with this identity crisis born of necessity throughout the journey. The take to the sea on a pirate hunting vessel called The Sea Sprite captained by Deudermont and powered by the battle mage Robilliard. They make a mad dash down the coast trying to close the gap on Regis and Entreri. Regis has made a few attempts to slow Entreri but they have cost him a finger per attempt. As the Sea Sprite closes in on its destination they are ambushed by pirate’s intent on destroying The Sea Sprite. The battle turns south for Drizzt and the crew until Bruenor smashing his flaming chariot into the enemies’ boat.
After a heartfelt reunion, the companions are back on the trail of the assassin and make their way to Calimport. Regis’s stay with his former master has been none to pleasant and the companions arrive in time to do battle with the thieves’ guild. Drizzt pulls off a narrow win against his nemesis Entreri and puts to rest his self doubts. Now free and with Pasha Pook dead, Regis claims stewardship of the guild. Wulfgar and Catti-brie’s love for each other has blossomed and the companions minus Regis head back to retake Mithril Hall. The armies from the surrounding cities gather and route the dark dwarves out of Bruenor’s ancestral home and the day is won. As preparations for the wedding commence, Regis arrives at the door and Drizzt and Bruenor suspect he is on the run again, he is.
END OF SPOILER
Wow, what a ride! Where the last book may have seemed familiar, this book takes a completely original story line that is both nail biting and touching at the same time. Drizzt wore a mask to cover his heritage to help his friend but when he was finally exposed, he was accepted by those around him who had already come to know his heart. He then had to face his mirror opposite the assassin Artemis Entreri who, with his skill with a sword and cold heart, is an unsettling reminder of what Drizzt could have become had his choices not lead him away from his amoral people. One small problem I have with this book is that the retaking of Mithril hall is a bit glossed over but the story isn't the about the battle, its about the journey south.
The truth of these stories is not the magic and the dragons, or the pirates and the adventure; these are the backdrop of the story. The story comes from the struggles that our favorite characters deal with everyday. For Drizzt it’s a struggle of identity and conscience. For Wulfgar it’s coming of age and a dawning understanding of the world around him. For Catti-brie its new love and responsibility to family and for Bruenor it’s the call of adventure verses his responsibilities as a leader. It is a mark of true writing that the human condition is addressed in each of the subjects of the story. All of us can identify with one or more of the struggles that these characters undergo. It makes them real and tangible; it makes them human even though they are not.
To say that one can lose themselves in these books is a bit of an understatement. R.A. Salvatore gives us a world far different from our own, yet the problems the people of this world face are as real as our own. We visit with Drizzt and company every time we crack the book and for twenty years it has been one of my favorite places to go. The Forgotten Realms is a rich and detailed canvas for artists like Salvatore to paint us a picture on. His keyboard is the brush and may he live a thousand years to keep painting.