Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Rant About Drizzt

In addition to enhancing my literary collection I've recently purchase graphic novels of Dragonlance and 'the Legend of Drizzt' off Amazon. I have to admit that I only bought the first book, the Crystal Shard because it was so unbelievably cheap, but I enjoyed it enough to buy all but the Halfling's Gem in graphic novel form (because it's a bit more expensive).

I'm not a big fan of the novels. I read 'The Crystal Shard' a few years ago when a friend lent it to me (and now I think on it I need to return it). I believe it was R.A. Salvatore's first book and dear god I hope so, it was dreadful. It doesn't help that I loathe Forgotten Realms, viewing it as a rip-off of Greyhawk (where drow, duergar etc. originate from) and Lord of the Rings (meddling pipe smoking wizards anyone) with a smorgasboard of whatever else people were working on for TSR at the time. So I am a tough audience. You may wish to avert your eyes from spoilers....

The part that really sold me on the dreadfulness of the Crystal Shard was the start of a chapter that went something like, "Drizzt readied himself to attack the crystal fortress armed with his scimitars, magical panther and the flour he had stolen off the giants he had just slain and decided on a whim to take as a souvenir."

Can you guess which item Drizzt uses to save the day? Well it is the clearly telegraphed souvenir flour - used to cover a magical solar-powered crystal that receives its energy from the sun and weaken it. Now Drizzt isn't portrayed as a kleptomaniac who insists on stealing something from every fight, nor is he ever shown to be a baking enthusiast, so this smacks of very, very lazy writing. Especially when the drow can magically by will create magical darkness - though having Drizzt's racial abilities save the day is only marginally above John Barrowman's Captain Jack's immortality being the only thing that can stop a massive demon from destroying Cardiff in terms of sheer cringe factorness. But better than inexplicably stealing flour to use later.

Thankfully the graphic novel does not include the awful flour scene, which gives it bonus points in my book. I even had to reread the Crystal Shard in Waterstones to make sure I didn't imagine the flour incident.

Overall though the series still lacks any real characterization. Drizzt and his chums are all invincible at the start of each book and never really seem to develop. Drizzt's development in his prequel trilogy is as follows:-

Book 1 - Drizzt is well hard but unhappy because all the drow are evil.
Book 2 - Drizzt is well hard but unhappy because he's living underground and having to fight monsters and his own people.
Book 3 - Drizzt is well hard but unhappy because everyone on the surface judges him by his dark skin (gee, there's a subtle metaphor).
Book 4 - see Book 3 for details, except now he has some invincible friends.

Bruenor - a gruff but secretly caring dwarf (gee!) who remains gruff for the two books he is in before, in an underground dwarven city lost to a great shadowy evil, he appears to die falling to his death with said shadowy evil. He gets better and comes back to life in later books. I think he is then called Bruenor the White but I could be confusing this with a better book. He also finds some magical armour his dad owned in the Mines of Moria... I mean Mithril Hall.

Wulfgar - a barbarian eventually raised by dwarves he starts off not very hard. Then Bruenor gives him a magical warhammer. This makes him as hard as nails.

Cattie-Brie - raised by dwarfs and inexplicably a hard-as-nails fighter. Her character development is that she finds a magic bow in a dwarven fortress (why dwarves have magic bows I dunno) and kills a human being (which is apparently a lot harder to do than killing evil dwarves and makes me wonder how in D&D terms she could be as hard as nails and yet still).

Anyroads, it's the lack of any depth or character development that make me feel these stories work best as comics rather than as novels in themselves.

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