The Crystal Shard

By R. A. Salvatore

The Legend of Drizzt, book IV

In the barren wasteland of Icewind Dale, you have the community of Ten Towns. “Community” may not be the best description, for these separate entities compete for every resource they come upon, mostly in terms of the knucklehead trout they fish from the lakes they border.

Mear Dauldon, Lac Dinneshere, and Redwaters are the principle sources of commerce in these lakeside towns. The capital, Bryn Shander, stands as a common trading grounds for the separate lake cities.

“The greater good of the region had fallen beneath the lesser personal gains of stubborn pride, with most of the people of Ten- Towns confusing unity with dependence.” 

During various assaults on Ten Towns, these rivals on the lakes are forced to temporarily make peace in the face of extinction. This creates the main theme throughout the novel: people put aside their differences and battle the attacks on their homeland as one.

I mean, you’ve got a bunch of prideful fishermen who think they know best; the competitions for fish on the lakes end in bloodshed half the time! You also have the roaming barbarians who have a strong enmity with the lake people. You’d think within the human race, these stubborn men would stick together more with all the things out there like tundra yetis and goblins and such.

Amidst these ill-feelings, there is one who stands alone on the tundra, Drizzt Do’Urden. If you aren’t already acquainted, this drow (or dark elf) is unlike any other of his race. He does not feel joy at cutting down and backstabbing others. He doesn’t even live underground anymore like his evil kin who worship the goddess Lolth, or “Death Queen Mother”(goddess of trickery and war – the main reason the drow are so evil and get their way by lying and killing. She is pure evil in spider form).

Darkness and sorcery. Pain and suffering. 

Drizzt carries the pendant of Meilikki, the Forest Queen. Goddess of rangers and nature, basically pure good. Nothing like the spider queen his kin pray to.

Her depiction here is very bright and surrounded by forest animals. No lurking in dark caves like the spider queen. 

So Drizzt is an anomaly in terms of his race. This does not prevent those who encounter him to judge him by first appearance and distrust his intentions just because of his skin pigment. Because of this confrontational manner of the humans, Drizzt prefers a solitary existence to one surrounded by friends.

I find myself relating to Drizzt, as I’m sure many other people easily do. The outcast. The misunderstood, introverted loner. I admire his unbending integrity in all matters, as well as his discipline to his swordsmanship and warriors reflexes. He has a figurine of the mighty cat Guenhwyvar, who travels the ethereal plane until summoned to battle alongside Drizzt.

Among the few Drizzt calls friend, we have the dwarf Breunor Battlehammer, king of Mithril Hall. As stubborn and emotionally unavailable as Breunor may be, he discovers a weak spot for a young barbarian warrior, Wulfgar. After almost killing each other in battle, the two form an unbreakable bond over the years Wulfgar is indebted to the gruff dwarf. Wulfgar meets his fighting trainer, Drizzt, and the two form a close bond over their battles in this book.

I almost forgot to mention the main bad guy here: Akar Kessel. Sniveling apprentice turned powerful wizard through literal backstabbing and the fortunate discovery of a powerful artifact that gives this book its name: the crystal shard, Crenshinibon. He comes to brainwash an army of goblins, trolls, and giants to launch an ambush assault on the divided Ten Towns.

Adventure. Trolls. Treasure. Teleportation. Sorcery. Scimitars. Honor. Loyalty. Legacy. Read this book and Salvatore’s other works if you’re into any of these things.

My rating is near perfection because of Salvatore’s incredible writing and storytelling. If I had something bad to say about his book… I guess it would be that there are few strong female characters here other than Breunor’s human adopted daughter, Catti-Brie. You can tell there’s more to her than this book goes into, and I’m excited for that. I only make this point because as a female, I do enjoy when there’s a character in the book I’m reading to relate to, but I don’t really put much fault on the author for not having a really developed one here. I’m just looking for any small imperfections I can find.

Other than that:




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