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The Crystal Shard

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Akar Kessel, weak-willed apprentice mage, starts events that find a magical device, the crystal shard. Dwarf Bruenor rescues barbarian Wulfgar from the ruins of Ten-Towns, for 5 years of service - and friendship. With help from renegade dark elf Drizzt, Wulfgar becomes a warrior with brawn and brains. Can the trio stave off the crystal shard forces?


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Akar Kessel, weak-willed apprentice mage, starts events that find a magical device, the crystal shard. Dwarf Bruenor rescues barbarian Wulfgar from the ruins of Ten-Towns, for 5 years of service - and friendship. With help from renegade dark elf Drizzt, Wulfgar becomes a warrior with brawn and brains. Can the trio stave off the crystal shard forces?

30 review for The Crystal Shard

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Review of the audiobook narrated by Victor Bevine. Between 10 and 20 years ago, back when I only read a handful of books each year, I read through most of this series (up to book 17 of The Legend of Drizzt). With my recent re-introduction to reading thanks to audiobooks I've had the opportunity to get to know a few of the more contemporary fantasy writers. With this, my first re-read in many years, I wanted to compare the old and the new with more than just faded memories. The best part of this bo Review of the audiobook narrated by Victor Bevine. Between 10 and 20 years ago, back when I only read a handful of books each year, I read through most of this series (up to book 17 of The Legend of Drizzt). With my recent re-introduction to reading thanks to audiobooks I've had the opportunity to get to know a few of the more contemporary fantasy writers. With this, my first re-read in many years, I wanted to compare the old and the new with more than just faded memories. The best part of this book, and the series as a whole, is Drizzt. While he's sometimes obnoxiously virtuous, his thoughts and motivations bring some real depth to a narrative which is sorely lacking in just that. Other that him what this book does well are the action sequences and being a faithful adaptation of D&D. The latter has meaning for me mostly due to my love of the Baldur's Gate I & II (which Drizzt appears in) and Icewind Dale (the setting for this book) PC games in the late 90's. I can now see that the D&D connection can be negative as well, as the general abilities and motivations (or lack thereof) of the various races have already been established. There isn't a real reason why orcs, goblins or trolls are evil - it's just because they are of that race. There is also an overall lack of depth and a cast of one dimensional characters, making this a book I wouldn't recommend to start with. Certainly, you would want to start with Homeland, which I'm pretty sure is better without needing a re-read, then take a step back with the Icewind Dale trilogy, before moving forward with Salvatore. Victor Bevine does an OK job. He's good with different race/character voices, but I didn't care for his regular narration voice. I'm hoping he gets better with the other books in the series. Final verdict: 3.5 star story, 3.5 star narration, 3.5 stars overall (I'm rounding mostly up for posterity to keep this at a 4 star book, but if I was reading it for the first time this would more likely be a 3) UPDATE 6/18/18 (2 days after writing the above review): I cannot in good conscience keep this rating at 4 stars so I have rounded down to 3 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Geluso

    This book sucked. Seriously, this is a classic? The story is good, and I can see why the character is popular among 12-year-old boys. He's a tormented drow! So he's cool-looking, but good! And he has a magic panther! And he can do just about anything, including run for days and command demons and all that. The story, overall, isn't horrible. It's better than the base narrative of The Hobbit. But the writing, the writing, the overwrought writing, the exposition, the journal entries... argh. Salvat This book sucked. Seriously, this is a classic? The story is good, and I can see why the character is popular among 12-year-old boys. He's a tormented drow! So he's cool-looking, but good! And he has a magic panther! And he can do just about anything, including run for days and command demons and all that. The story, overall, isn't horrible. It's better than the base narrative of The Hobbit. But the writing, the writing, the overwrought writing, the exposition, the journal entries... argh. Salvatore has been writing for 20 years, and maybe he's gotten better. But I should have read this when I was 15, and then I would have disliked it less. I wonder how well those Dragonlance books would hold up if I read them now...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    Ah, the very beginning of the Drizzt saga. Such trope-ridden, archetypal innocence. When a disgruntled and incompetent mage apprentice comes into contact with one of the most twisted, manipulative and overall evil artifacts in the Forgotten Realms, things go south quickly for the population of Icewind Dale. Enter Bruenor Battlehammer, Wulfgar the Barbarian and last, but certainly not least, Drizzt Do'Urden. Having recently run The Legacy of the Crystal Shard, set a century later, for the 5th Editi Ah, the very beginning of the Drizzt saga. Such trope-ridden, archetypal innocence. When a disgruntled and incompetent mage apprentice comes into contact with one of the most twisted, manipulative and overall evil artifacts in the Forgotten Realms, things go south quickly for the population of Icewind Dale. Enter Bruenor Battlehammer, Wulfgar the Barbarian and last, but certainly not least, Drizzt Do'Urden. Having recently run The Legacy of the Crystal Shard, set a century later, for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, I must admit I liked that more than I enjoyed reading this, but it was quite interesting seeing where it all originated. As R.A. Salvatore's debut novel, The Crystal Shard reeks of inexperienced, derivative fantasy, but there is also a distinct aroma of epic adventure that keeps you reading page after page. Drizzt books are not masterpieces, but always enjoyable reads.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Xu

    How many books do you know that a side character has more time than the main character then becomes the main character? That was the way for this book, which mean the character of Drizzt rather than for Wulfgar. One of the many reasons that why this book is different from most books in fantasy. This reason is the biggest reason that this is different from most of the book out there.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fiver

    This beginning to the Icewind Dale trilogy is a guilty pleasure at best. I fully admit that I've read eight books in the entire Drizzt series, and that this kind of novel is just the thing I need to curl up with sometimes. But the sad truth is that it is books like this one that, in my opinion, sometimes give fantasy a bad name. Mr. Salvatore is undoubtedly more talented in writing than the format of these books might suggest (I'm sure he's writing for a fairly young audience), and the success o This beginning to the Icewind Dale trilogy is a guilty pleasure at best. I fully admit that I've read eight books in the entire Drizzt series, and that this kind of novel is just the thing I need to curl up with sometimes. But the sad truth is that it is books like this one that, in my opinion, sometimes give fantasy a bad name. Mr. Salvatore is undoubtedly more talented in writing than the format of these books might suggest (I'm sure he's writing for a fairly young audience), and the success of the series shows its popularity, but with only decent writing, only one really fleshed-out character, and plot that feels like watered-down and sugared-up Tolkien (and yes, the rip-offs are many), this book just isn't really something worth reading. Drizzt, the drow (dark elf), is a classic romantic character, who is just too noble to ever show any weakness, and too good with his scimitars to ever be beaten by anything. As much as I love that idea (I plan to go as Drizzt next Halloween), it is puddle-deep. The latter Dark Elf trilogy is better and deeper writing, although still not quite literary. My suggestion? Try the Dark Elf trilogy. If it's too juvenile for you, then the Crystal Shard will be too, by bounds.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List It doesn't matter. I will always ♥ love ♥ Drizzt & his trusted companion, Guenhwyvar Drizzt Do'Urden trotted along silently, his soft, low-cut boots barely stirring the dust. He kept the cowl of his brown cloak pulled low over the flowing waves of his stark white hair and moved with such effortless grace that an onlooker might have thought him to be no more than an illusion, an optical trick of the brown sea of tundra. In the first part of the book we find MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List It doesn't matter. I will always ♥ love ♥ Drizzt & his trusted companion, Guenhwyvar Drizzt Do'Urden trotted along silently, his soft, low-cut boots barely stirring the dust. He kept the cowl of his brown cloak pulled low over the flowing waves of his stark white hair and moved with such effortless grace that an onlooker might have thought him to be no more than an illusion, an optical trick of the brown sea of tundra. In the first part of the book we find Drizzt helping out a few of the towns against a barbarian raid. He has help from his dear friend, Bruenor Battlehammer who is a dwarf. I love the banter and camaraderie between the two. During this battle one of the barbarians that was in a fight with Bruenor was hurt by Bruenor himself. But the dwarf felt a soft spot in his heart for this young barbarian and took him in without killing him. He told the barbarian named Wulfgar, that he had to work for him for a number of years and then he was free to go. Wulfgar and Bruenor started feeling like family and when the time was up, Bruenor sent Wulfgar to learn fighting skills from Drizzt. Meanwhile.... in another part of the tundra, this jerk of a wizard (Akar Kessell) gets lucky and finds a powerful magical piece called the crystal shard. He uses this for bad things of course. Controlling all of the giants, orcs and bringing demons through portholes.. stuff like that. Of course Kessell is going to attack the villages (like will everyone just leave them alone) with his huge army. He has the barbarians on his side too. Drizzt and Wulfgar become good friends while Wulfgar is learning to fight and then truly fighting the evil peeps with Drizzt and Bruenor. Then Wulfgar wanted to go back to his people, which worried the others a little bit. They shouldn't have worried, he brought them to their senses. I love Wulfgar too ♥ This, that and the other happens and it ends all happy ever after with some funny stuff thrown in here and there. Now they are on the next quest to somewhere that I'm not telling you :-D

  7. 5 out of 5

    Traci

    An elf, a dwarf, and a halfling walk into a bar...wait you've heard this one before? Yeah, okay. There's nothing truly original here. Nothing we haven't encountered before. But I like it. A little different than the usual "quest" style of fantasy this one concentrates on a group of settlers trying to save their home from an invading wizard who has been possessed by an ancient artifact. If you've read Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn first you will notice a difference in style. The Crystal Shard was wri An elf, a dwarf, and a halfling walk into a bar...wait you've heard this one before? Yeah, okay. There's nothing truly original here. Nothing we haven't encountered before. But I like it. A little different than the usual "quest" style of fantasy this one concentrates on a group of settlers trying to save their home from an invading wizard who has been possessed by an ancient artifact. If you've read Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn first you will notice a difference in style. The Crystal Shard was written first even though chronology it comes after. Homeland matches the later books more. But if you have a problem with the characters, especially Drizzt, you might as well stop now. On a whole the writing does improve though. It's hard consider this book in a bubble because I've read all the Drizzt books that are out. And I know that favorites are coming. *Happy Dance* Artemis Entreri is coming *Happy Dance* (ahem, a favorite character, or can you tell) I recommend these books to fans of Dungeons and Dragons gameplay and books. Fans of traditional fantasy. To those who are just getting into fantasy. And for anyone who might want a light read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    I can see where this would have been an extremely popular book in its time. It does, however, very much show its status as first published book by this author and as a high fantasy published in the 1980s. It reminded me strongly of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, which started off very dependent on The Lord of the Rings for races, imagery, and even some plot points, but which eventually moved off in its own direction. I think nowadays we could refer to works like these as LOTR fan fiction. I can see where this would have been an extremely popular book in its time. It does, however, very much show its status as first published book by this author and as a high fantasy published in the 1980s. It reminded me strongly of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, which started off very dependent on The Lord of the Rings for races, imagery, and even some plot points, but which eventually moved off in its own direction. I think nowadays we could refer to works like these as LOTR fan fiction. LOTR was immensely influential and writers were trying to recreate the experience for eager readers, who were tired of re-reading Tolkien’s epic to get their fix. To give credit to Salvatore, he moves things off in his own direction quite quickly. He may have halflings with furry feet (thankfully, he doesn’t call them hobbits), elves, dwarves, goblins and orcs, but they march to his drum and he doesn’t just copy Tolkien’s plot lines. The good people may have slight shadings of grey to their goodness, but the villains are definitely mustache-twirling, evil-laughing baddies, very typical of the time period. There is some battle detail, but certainly nothing resembling the nitty-gritty of the grim-dark fantasy that is currently popular. The reader can be quite confident that all the main characters will survive to have another adventure and that good will conquer in the end. Salvatore adds some imaginative elements—for example, Drizzt, our Dark Elf main character, has a magical panther companion. Instead of a pastoral setting, all of his characters live on or right beside the tundra. The barbarian tribes make interesting enemies and eventually allies (frenemies perhaps?) for the settled humans. I was particularly amused by the knucklehead trout, the skulls of which were ideal for carving, rather like ivory in our world. Also typical of the 1980s, female characters are scarce and barely have names, let alone roles to play in the action. But this is merely the first book, so there is room for development. The ending leads me to believe that the second book will be the more familiar quest tale. Book number 229 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I’m glad to be back with Drizzt and his pals. This was a very fun tale filled with battles, evil wizards, giants, dwarves and a crazy demon. Can’t wait to start the next one!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Harold Ogle

    After reading a chapter or two, I realized to my surprise that I have never actually read this first Salvatore novel before. It's a strange experience, because I know the story of Drizzt so well from other books and other media, to the point that it feels like I must have read this previously...but I definitely hadn't. Back when TSR published this novel in 1988, it was trying to distance itself from a lot of the pre-existing gaming properties that it had published when Gary Gygax was running the After reading a chapter or two, I realized to my surprise that I have never actually read this first Salvatore novel before. It's a strange experience, because I know the story of Drizzt so well from other books and other media, to the point that it feels like I must have read this previously...but I definitely hadn't. Back when TSR published this novel in 1988, it was trying to distance itself from a lot of the pre-existing gaming properties that it had published when Gary Gygax was running the company. The company had had good success with the Dragonlance series, and so it'd cast about, looking for other authors. It had to get rid of the "Gord the Rogue" series, and in general wanted to cut off all ties with the old Greyhawk campaign setting. The company chose Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms as the setting that would then become the default AD&D game setting, and The Crystal Shard was the first attempt to engage gamers in "the Realms" as fiction. Being disdainful of the change and contemptuous of the company's handling of Gary Gygax, I effectively boycotted most of this stuff, which I realize now is why I didn't read this when it was published. It's a shame, because (just like the Dragonlance books) I probably would have enjoyed this book a great deal more as a teenager. The story is pretty good, but it is clearly an outline of an AD&D campaign, with the halfling thief (Regis), dwarven fighter (Bruenor), human barbarian (Wulfgar), and dark elven ranger (Drizzt) as archetypal player characters. Each character is given equal weight in the story, which feels strange in retrospect because Drizzt retroactively became the major protagonist in the repackaging of the book and its sequels (the copy I read labels this as "Legend of Drizzt volume four"). Drizzt is definitely not the main character in this book; the party of PCs is. The campaign is epic in scope, with the characters battling giants, employing large-force tactics on the battlefield, casting spells, using magic items, slaying a dragon, collecting loot, defeating a dark wizard, banishing a demon, countering an evil artifact, and winning a war. As far as I know, TSR did not create a series of modules to accompany this book (as they did with the Dragonlance books), and that's surprising, because this book reads like a gaming session, complete with goofy player dialogue in silly accents. Really, in the other books I never noticed Drizzt or his friends speaking in such stilted, pompous upper crust English. In this book, with all of his "I shan't hold you to that" dialog, I couldn't help but imagine Drizzt speaking in a prissy Jacob Rees-Mogg dialect, which was so funny it enhanced my enjoyment of what is really a decent plot presented with awful writing. One passage actually elicited an involuntary guffaw from me. Sadly, it was unintended humor. I mean, the writing is bad, but I didn't actually expect to find a gem of a Bulwer-Lytton contest entry within its pages. Here it is (from page 278): "His concern touched Regis, as would a starving man crying out for food." You know, because the only thing that makes life bearable for a hobo who hasn't eaten in four days is the sweat of a halfling. Everybody knows this, just as halfling dander is a powerful narcotic. Regis has starving men touching him all the time; it's a natural hazard of being a halfling in a world of malnourished humans. That's a stand-out in the bad writing contest, but the rest of the book isn't much better. The whole thing is written in a strangely remote passive voice that is completely narrative with no demonstrative elements at all. Put another way: the book tells us what the characters are doing, what they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they are going to do, without ever just showing us simply through their behavior. There is no subtext to any of the characters; thought, emotion, motivation...everything is presented to us as fact. It's so weird and so consistent that it feels intentional. The result is that the book feels like a story that comes from an oral tradition, so like a Norse saga, the poem of Beowulf, or a Homeric tale that it feels even weirder that it isn't in verse. There's little complexity and the narrative declares what each person is thinking and what they plan before they actually take action. I'm convinced that this first novel was not planned as the beginning of an endless series of books about Drizzt. There's so much in this book, and a great deal of it includes the plots of several of the books that were written later (particularly the entire "Dark Elf Trilogy"); it's clear that Salvatore had no idea that he would write more after this, so he stuffed as much as possible into this one book. It's like George Lucas filming Star Wars: a New Hope as the one story he was going to tell in the middle of the longer series, and only after it did monster box office did he go back and start to plan to tell the rest of the stories. The main reason that I'm glad I've read this now is that I finally have more of a connection to more of the characters in the Legend of Drizzt board game. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone older than 15, and even then only with a big caveat about it being Salvatore's first book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    daisy

    Definitely not my favourite so far; things felt a little too coincidental and almost silly at times. I'm hanging out for more appearances from Jarlaxle tbh. Proper review to come later when I'm not tired AF. Also: I love this world a lot, but the series reaaaaally needs some more well-rounded female characters. Catti-Brie has a few appearances, but the only other female characters are unnamed 'womenfolk' (who are treated like damsels in distress at best and 'seen but not heard' burdens at worst) a Definitely not my favourite so far; things felt a little too coincidental and almost silly at times. I'm hanging out for more appearances from Jarlaxle tbh. Proper review to come later when I'm not tired AF. Also: I love this world a lot, but the series reaaaaally needs some more well-rounded female characters. Catti-Brie has a few appearances, but the only other female characters are unnamed 'womenfolk' (who are treated like damsels in distress at best and 'seen but not heard' burdens at worst) and the mindless, tortured harem/slave girls the evil wizard keeps and routinely assaults in his tower. Not the best nor the most diverse range of female characters, but I'm hoping it gets better as the series progresses!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Victor Hugo

    After several years I did return to the roleplaying games, especially, Dungeons & Dragons. One of my favorite campaign settings over there is Forgotten Realms, known because of its diversity and how it portraits the best of High Fantasy tropes (and, of course, its clichés). But of all Forgotten Realms, I've always liked Icewind Dale. Icewind Dale has this name because of the unrelenting snow storms and the harsh life style at the faerûnian tundra. The Ten-Towns can be seen as the last bastion of After several years I did return to the roleplaying games, especially, Dungeons & Dragons. One of my favorite campaign settings over there is Forgotten Realms, known because of its diversity and how it portraits the best of High Fantasy tropes (and, of course, its clichés). But of all Forgotten Realms, I've always liked Icewind Dale. Icewind Dale has this name because of the unrelenting snow storms and the harsh life style at the faerûnian tundra. The Ten-Towns can be seen as the last bastion of human civilization in the end of the world, beyond the mountains of the Spine of the World and far from the luxurious and vivid cities of the south. The Crystal Shard was the first time we get to know better Icewind Dale and its people, introducing a Dungeons & Dragons/Forgotten Realms adventure in a new way. The first time I read this book, I found it rather dull. In that time I found the characters hallow and superficial, with equally weak motivations. However, during my second reading of the series, I was able to have more fun leaving all those expectations aside. The Crystal Shard is a simple, fast and plain reading, without great pretensions. Do not expect a great classic of the Fantasy genre, but rather a fun story that is able to entertain the reader for several hours, and maybe that was the author's goal when he wrote this classic in the 1980s. We have the first appearance of Drizzt Do'Urden, Bruenor, Wulfgar, Regis and Cattie-Brie, characters well known in the world of roleplaying games. My impression is that the book has two main arcs, the first being the introduction of the characters, at a quite different pace than what happens in the second half of the book. Although loosely connected, the second part of the book presents an epic adventure to save the towns of Icewind Dale. In this sense, I find problematic to read this book as a single story, because it is in the second part of the book that we have several elements of action that will unfold in the other books in the series. The way the author introduced the characters in the first half of the book might have been done differently. However, The Crystal Shard entertained me a lot in the last few days, which was quite differently from the first time I read it, several years ago. If you're looking for a simple and fast reading Fantasy book, surely this is a good choice. I could clearly see that the narrative in this book is very similar to an RPG adventure, with its various heroes completing different missions (the adventures) for a larger purpose (the campaign).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 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 tim 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, average. If you like your heroes well-rounded, this is not for you. If you like them racking up impossible bodycounts this is for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ralph Pulner

    Very much a solid 4 but upgraded for the impact it had on how I read, play and search out fantasy to this day. I've never read past Sojourn amazingly. I'm hoping to change that at some point. -I'm certain this was my first FR book as a teenager and solidified a lifelong pact with all things Realms. -Though I couldn't recall specific plot before my readthrough I could name every character. First, last and nicknames...I'm horrible with names. -RA Salvatore's first novel. -Drizzt has spawned over 30 bo Very much a solid 4 but upgraded for the impact it had on how I read, play and search out fantasy to this day. I've never read past Sojourn amazingly. I'm hoping to change that at some point. -I'm certain this was my first FR book as a teenager and solidified a lifelong pact with all things Realms. -Though I couldn't recall specific plot before my readthrough I could name every character. First, last and nicknames...I'm horrible with names. -RA Salvatore's first novel. -Drizzt has spawned over 30 books in the series and sold over 10,000,000 copies worldwide. -Early on in planning the setting was intended to take place on Douglas Niles Moonshae, so the final product retains a few parallels and a nice nod to his books. -Wulfgar was supposed to be the primary protagonist. -RA Salvatore was told one of his characters in his early draft was unusable. His agent was on her way to a meeting and needed a replacement. He came up with the name and race of Drizzt on the spot. -RA Salvatore regrets not giving Catti Brie more of a voice in Crystal Shard. The importance of strong female heroines became apparent later on in his career.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jarek "the Mistborn" Dąbrowski

    After starting my adventure with Drizzt through the Dark elf Trilogy Iam back to the books that started it all. Icewind Dale. Although you can feel that this was Salvatores first book its still a great story and fun ride. It kinda feels like playing Baldurs Gate or Never Winter Nights:) All the side characters are cool in their own way but I think i like Bruenor the most:) These books are a great way to clear your head from the more "epic" stories out there. I will continue to read this series for After starting my adventure with Drizzt through the Dark elf Trilogy Iam back to the books that started it all. Icewind Dale. Although you can feel that this was Salvatores first book its still a great story and fun ride. It kinda feels like playing Baldurs Gate or Never Winter Nights:) All the side characters are cool in their own way but I think i like Bruenor the most:) These books are a great way to clear your head from the more "epic" stories out there. I will continue to read this series for sure. 4 stars from me:)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    It took me at least 100 pages to feel fully engaged with the story but the lengthy intro was truly necessary character and story development. Even with his brief introduction of Drizzt, Bruenor and Regis, Salvatore created tangible characters that colored the war tactics, battles, and subsequent survival (since "victory" is only in the eye of the beholder) with clear depth and breadth. He was true to their character throughout the entire story and it allowed for the events that took place to be It took me at least 100 pages to feel fully engaged with the story but the lengthy intro was truly necessary character and story development. Even with his brief introduction of Drizzt, Bruenor and Regis, Salvatore created tangible characters that colored the war tactics, battles, and subsequent survival (since "victory" is only in the eye of the beholder) with clear depth and breadth. He was true to their character throughout the entire story and it allowed for the events that took place to be highly likely and credible in both a fantasy and/or reality of war and survival. I particularly liked how each part contained a forward of Drizzt's thoughts. He's clearly a very keen strategist and I enjoyed hearing his train of thought at he pondered current events. With the interplay of these three characters, my favorite introduction was Wulfgar. When they first introduced him as an intelligent and clearly unique barbarian, I secretly hoped that he wouldn't be slain but instead would become an integral part of the story. I was definitely rewarded! Wulfgar's "education" in patience, hard work, and loyalty under the initial tutelege of Bruenor and finally in combat, cognizance, and tactical leadership under Drizzt were all it took for me to trust and invest in his character. I definitely rooted for him as he set out on his journey to the dragon's lair and then to his former King. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more tales of his adventures.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    This was not at all what I expected, and for that reason alone I could almost give it four stars. I always thought that I couldn't possibly enjoy this book as an adult. Based on the things I had heard about it (D&D origins and all) I was afraid that I had missed my window where I could enjoy it (somewhere in my late teen years I assumed). Apparently I hadn't missed that window though, this actually turned out to be a fun read. It maybe wasn't the best fantasy I've ever read but it was far from t This was not at all what I expected, and for that reason alone I could almost give it four stars. I always thought that I couldn't possibly enjoy this book as an adult. Based on the things I had heard about it (D&D origins and all) I was afraid that I had missed my window where I could enjoy it (somewhere in my late teen years I assumed). Apparently I hadn't missed that window though, this actually turned out to be a fun read. It maybe wasn't the best fantasy I've ever read but it was far from the worst, it had a good story line and interesting characters, it was written pretty well (better than I had expected) and was well paced. So yeah, good times. I learned something when I read this book. I'm full of it and need to stop being a fantasy snob, there's fun stuff out there that I'm probably missing because I assume I've matured beyond it. The more you know...

  18. 4 out of 5

    David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party

    "The Crystal Shard" is R.A. Salvatore's 1st major published novel, and he made sure to include all the classic fantasy elements in this epic tale. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the book's one major flaw, since the overall story just seems so generic. Let's see, we have an evil artifact that possesses the mind of its owner, a dwarf and an elf who banter and keep score while they fight common enemies, and even a hobbit halfling who joins in the quest. Gee, does any of this sound familiar?!? "The Crystal Shard" is R.A. Salvatore's 1st major published novel, and he made sure to include all the classic fantasy elements in this epic tale. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the book's one major flaw, since the overall story just seems so generic. Let's see, we have an evil artifact that possesses the mind of its owner, a dwarf and an elf who banter and keep score while they fight common enemies, and even a hobbit halfling who joins in the quest. Gee, does any of this sound familiar?!? Still, while it isn't the most original plot (or even the 100th most original plot), "The Crystal Shard" still manages to be a must-read for any fantasy fan! One thing I enjoyed most about this book was R.A. Salvatore's incredibly beautiful descriptions of everything. I've praised Salvatore in the past for his inimitable ability to portray fight sequences in great detail. In this book, he also takes time to describe the lush environments and the intricate architecture in such rich detail, I truly felt like I was there watching everything unfold! Another great thing about this book was the cast. Pretty much every major character is worth reading about, and each has their own distinct personality. Bruenor the dwarf is gruff but noble. Regis the halfling is craven yet crafty. But the one who really steals the show is dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden! It's no mystery why Drizzt was the breakout star of the Icewind Dale trilogy, since he is so roguishly charming in this book, you absolutely want to read about more of his exploits! The book moves at a very fast pace as well, thanks to tons of action and drama throughout. The book isn't a perfect read, however, I did have some minor quibbles throughout. For one thing, Salvatore's tendency to generalize the evil wizard's army grew tiresome (we're constantly reminded that goblins are cowardly by nature, that orcs are all brutes, etc...). And I was annoyed by the appalling lack of strong women in this story! The only female character (unless you count Drizzt's panther) who gets any screen time at all is Bruenor's adopted daughter, Cattie-Brie, and she only appears for a very short while. Still while the book did lack in some areas, the captivating characters and exciting action made this a grand adventure to read! Highly recommended :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I knew that this was the first Drizzt book that Salvatore ever penned, so the Drizzt that I knew from the "first three" books wasn't going to be the same Drizzt that I followed here, and I'm glad that I knew that going in. Drizzt had a few more, uh, pre-occupations in this story than I preferred, but he was still more-or-less the same drow I had grown so attached to. The thing I really like about this story are the characters. Drizzt has finally found a place for himself in the world - not a perf I knew that this was the first Drizzt book that Salvatore ever penned, so the Drizzt that I knew from the "first three" books wasn't going to be the same Drizzt that I followed here, and I'm glad that I knew that going in. Drizzt had a few more, uh, pre-occupations in this story than I preferred, but he was still more-or-less the same drow I had grown so attached to. The thing I really like about this story are the characters. Drizzt has finally found a place for himself in the world - not a perfect place, but he's content. He's met some people who know him, and who can look past his heritage. The battles in this story were even better than I had come to expect, mostly because of the people who fought along Drizzt, and the unexpected alliances that were forged at the end. The unwavering friendship that Drizzt is able to find in Icewind Dale is more gratifying for me, a reader who picked up the books in the order that the publisher numbered them, not in the order that Salvatore wrote them. Having read through all of Drizzt's struggles prior to coming to Icewind Dale made his acceptance in Bruenor's clan and by some of the people in Ten-Towns much more sweet.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steven Ure

    A paint-by-numbers, cliched and sexist fantasy crammed with adverbs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Greg Strandberg

    This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've read this book since 1995. It's a good story and I'm sure I'll read it again in a few more years.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    As dull and uninspired as eating beige food while wearing beige clothes and sitting in a beige room. If I were to give a computer information on fantasy literature and program it to write a basic fantasy novel with the information given, it would produce something as cold and formulaic as this. A few more specific observations: I don't get why everyone is so in love with Drizzt. He was just as bland as everyone else. Everything the characters needed to know, they just happened to know. Everything As dull and uninspired as eating beige food while wearing beige clothes and sitting in a beige room. If I were to give a computer information on fantasy literature and program it to write a basic fantasy novel with the information given, it would produce something as cold and formulaic as this. A few more specific observations: I don't get why everyone is so in love with Drizzt. He was just as bland as everyone else. Everything the characters needed to know, they just happened to know. Everything the characters needed, they happened to have in their pockets (Drizzt just happened to take some flour from his fallen enemies? Really? Jesus...). The town was infuriating: HEROES: Your town is going to be attacked! THE TOWN: We don't believe you! *town is attacked* THE TOWN: You were right! You are our heroes! *a little while later* HEROES: Your town is going to be attacked again! THE TOWN: We don't believe you again! *facepalm* The Dwarf/barbarian relationship was also ridiculous. *barbarian and Dwarf fight, Dwarf wins* Dwarf: You are my prisoner now, and for some reason I instantly love you like a son and will raise you! I was going to read the rest of this series and then the prequels, but I think I'm going to call it a day here with this one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luke Scull

    The bumbling wizard apprentice Akar Kessel is transformed into a tyrant when he discovers a millennia-old artefact of incredible power. Crenshinibon – the Crystal Shard – is a sentient relic that grants huge power to its wielder even as it bends them to its will. The frozen tundra soon shakes beneath the feet of the goblinoid army raised by Akar Kessel as he prepares to conquer the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. Only a small band of heroes stands in his way: The strange drow, Drizzt Do’Urden, who ha The bumbling wizard apprentice Akar Kessel is transformed into a tyrant when he discovers a millennia-old artefact of incredible power. Crenshinibon – the Crystal Shard – is a sentient relic that grants huge power to its wielder even as it bends them to its will. The frozen tundra soon shakes beneath the feet of the goblinoid army raised by Akar Kessel as he prepares to conquer the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. Only a small band of heroes stands in his way: The strange drow, Drizzt Do’Urden, who has rejected the evil ways of his kind; the exiled dwarven king, Bruenor Battlehammer; and Bruenor’s indentured ward, Wulfgar, a mighty barbarian whom Bruenor spared in years past. R. A. Salvatore’s debut novel, The Crystal Shard was originally intended to be set in the Moonshae Isles, before Salvatore discovered that the Forgotten Realms were in fact much larger than he had assumed. He then shifted the story a thousand miles north to Icewind Dale. Informed by his then-editor that they could not use one of his characters, Salvatore came up with the character Drizzt Do’Urden on the spot. These two decisions, seemingly arrived at by happenstance, would help establish Salvatore as a multiple New York Times bestselling author with over 20 million books sold. He is, by far, the top-selling Forgotten Realms author and has likely done more to establish the popularity of the setting than anyone besides Ed Greenwood. It’s easy to be sniffy about The Crystal Shard. Some of the writing is clunky, as you might expect from a debut novel. The characters are largely archetypal and some of the plot developments are, upon a moment’s consideration, a little far-fetched even for a high fantasy novel. It’s what Salvatore does with these characters, the slight subversion he brings to the usual stereotypes, that fills them – and hence the story – with energy and pizzazz. This is helped in no small part by the excellent combat descriptions and Salvatore’s deep yet respectful borrowing of D&D lore. As with the first Realms novel, Darkwalker on Moonshae, the setting itself is also a star here. There’s a deep sense of hardship and loneliness on the frozen tundra of Icewind Dale. The isolated people of Ten Towns, the unforgiving nature of their fishing-based economies in the inhospitable cold - these create an air of desperation that wonderfully complements the story. Drizzt is, of course, Salvatore’s (and the Realms’) most iconic creation – yet in The Crystal Shard he is a side character, something of an enigma whose true depths are only hinted at. Bruenor Battlehammer, the surly dwarf, is an unlikely friend and yet it’s because he is so unlikely we know that these characters have more going on than meets the eye. Bruenor’s interactions with Wulfgar are amusing but also, remarkably, occasionally touching. Torn between his loyalty to his barbarian people and the dwarf who taught him how to be a better man, Wulfgar’s coming-of-age arc is ultimately the heart of the novel. Yet there is so much else - from Drizzt’s mysterious past to the banishment of Bruenor’s clan to the hints of romance between Bruenor’s adoptive daughter Cattie-Brie and Wulfgar - that infuses the story with intrigue. Even the late mention of Artemis Entreri, who would himself become one of fantasy’s most infamous assassins, seizes the reader’s attention with an iron grip. On the subject of Cattie-Brie, it’s unfortunate to note that she literally is the only female character in the entire novel – and her role in this one is fleeting at best. This is perhaps the most male-dominated fantasy novel I’ve ever read, or at least that I can remember reading. Of course, the author makes amends (and then some) with the fantastic Dark Elf Trilogy, still his crowning achievement. Just don’t come into this book looking for any kind of female representation. One thing I’d like to touch on is the graphic level of violence in The Crystal Shard. The body count runs to the thousands, with women and children ruthlessly cut down by goblinkin and monsters getting disemboweled, decapitated and gleefully slaughtered with a wild abandon that surprised even me, an author of “grimdark” fantasy! In one scene, Wulfgar literally crushes another man’s skull in his bare hands. I think it’s the contrast between the unshakeable belief of the heroes, and their ruthless use of violence, that is so disquieting. Unlike in most grimdark novels where everyone seems to accept or at least suspect they’re an utter bastard, Drizzt and co cleave, dice, and otherwise murder their enemies with utter conviction in their own righteousness. These are monsters - ergo, they deserve to die. And ye gods, there are a lot of monsters in The Crystal Shard. D&D fans, particularly Dungeon Masters, will cackle with glee at the iconic nasties that show up only to be summarily dispatched by our heroes. Taking a leaf out of Darkwalker on Moonshae and its firbolg giants, R. A. Salvatore’s verbeeg are nine feet of cretinous stupidity who can seemingly kill themselves simply by getting out of bed awkwardly. Look beyond the verbeeg, though, and you have demons, dragons, hell hounds, and more goblinkin than you can shake a stick at. All in all, The Crystal Shard is a novel in which everything somehow comes together, despite some occasional clumsiness. It packs an incredible amount of worldbuilding, action and - yes - even character development into its relatively short running time. More than this, it does an admirable job of setting the stage for the dozens of novels that would come after, many by the same author. It is, therefore, a resounding success by any measure. Essential reading for any Forgotten Realms fan - and recommended to anyone who likes bloody, action-driven fantasy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mathews

    Great lightweight fantasy. A must-read for any D&D players. The first book in the Icewind Dale and Legend of Drizzt series. (Note: This book is considered book 4 of the Drizzt series but that is because R.A. Salvatore went back and added a backstory for Drizzt, his dark elf hero.) Great lightweight fantasy. A must-read for any D&D players. The first book in the Icewind Dale and Legend of Drizzt series. (Note: This book is considered book 4 of the Drizzt series but that is because R.A. Salvatore went back and added a backstory for Drizzt, his dark elf hero.)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karolina Kat

    Yes it is very classic-fantasy-tropes heavy, and it may be slightly disappointing compared to the Drizzt trilogy of his time in Menzoberranzan. Being aware of the context of WHEN the book was written, and that it was Salvatore's first published novel - it is a very enjoyable adventure reading. Ideal for one or two summer afternoons.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Okay, This book introduces two more important characters into the series. First, a fat lazy halfling named Regis. He becomes the quindisential troublmaking theif. Secondly, a human barbarian named Wulfgar(beowulf?). Salvatore spends a lot of time working out the polotics of Icewind Dale, and specificly the area of Ten Towns (which has, as you may have guessed, 10 towns located around 3 lakes). Unfortunatly, after this series, the characters don't spend much time in this areas the pity. Anyw Okay, This book introduces two more important characters into the series. First, a fat lazy halfling named Regis. He becomes the quindisential troublmaking theif. Secondly, a human barbarian named Wulfgar(beowulf?). Salvatore spends a lot of time working out the polotics of Icewind Dale, and specificly the area of Ten Towns (which has, as you may have guessed, 10 towns located around 3 lakes). Unfortunatly, after this series, the characters don't spend much time in this areas the pity. Anywho, Wulfgar becomes Brunor Battlehammer's second adopted human when he is knocked unconcious on the battlefield by Brunor. All his tribesmen were slaughted during a raid on the dwarves, but kindly Brunor decides to make a 'slave' of the young barbarian and teach him to become a blacksmith. As Wulfgar grows up he also grows to love the dwarf father, as well as befriend Drizzt, who has become his tutor in battle. Brunor makes Wulfgar a magical hammer that he dubs 'Agis Fang', a super powerful weapon that can fell giants in one blow, and always returns to its master's hand when summond. So, the antagonist in this story is a dumb wizard's aprentice who betrays his master to another wizard, only to have the second wizard teleport him to the frozen top of a mountain to cover his ass (the second wizard is never heard of again. I think its a little bit thin...) However, as the apprentice realizes his mistake and cries out in his own selfpity, a sentient crystal calls out to him, promising power. The crystal is an amazingly powerful and evil artifact. So, the stupid apprentice gets lots of power and creates a magnificent tower, a replica of the shard itself, on the top of frozen mountain. The evil artifact starts to call any and all evil beings to it: goblins and orcs and giants and yetis and all kinds of evil things. Eventually, the stupid apprentice summons a powerful demon from the abyss, named Ertu. During all of this, Drizzt and Wulfgar go on a sort of gradutation adventure together. they head out into the tundra and find a white dragon's lair. They kill it and Drizzt gets a magical sword that hates fire; he names it 'Icing Death'. On their return journey, they discover some giants near the towns and overhear their plot to scout and attack the Ten Towns. They kill them, and warn everybody. Eventually, the stupid apprentice brings his tower and whole army into the midst of the Ten Towns, Brunor brings dwarves to fight them. After much distruction, the towns are saved and the apprentice is killed. Drizzt has a one on one battle with the demon, Ertu. He would have lost, had not his new sword saved him in the end. Ertu is banished back to the Abyss with a huge grudge for the dark elf. Regis is made a leader of one of the Ten Towns. And all is well!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Book number four in the overall Drizzt series of books (though actually the first book published) and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. Salvatore introduces readers to Icewind Dale and the Ten Towns that exist within its borders. Politics and evil conquest are the main focus. New beloved characters like the halfling Regis and the barbarian Wulfgar are introduced to great effect. This is top-notch, pulpy high fantasy delivered at a snappy pace. Wizards and Ice Dragons and Demons oh my! It Book number four in the overall Drizzt series of books (though actually the first book published) and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. Salvatore introduces readers to Icewind Dale and the Ten Towns that exist within its borders. Politics and evil conquest are the main focus. New beloved characters like the halfling Regis and the barbarian Wulfgar are introduced to great effect. This is top-notch, pulpy high fantasy delivered at a snappy pace. Wizards and Ice Dragons and Demons oh my! It definitely feels like a D&D rpg come to life and the ending puts a smile on the reader's face. I look forward to reading the further adventures of our favorite Drow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    This book is still as good as the first time I've read it more than 10 years ago. Having read more stories about Drizzt and going back it seems he is more chaotic in this one. His actions are more reckless and his skills seemed to be worse than he was in the Underdark. It seems strange that Drizzt managed to get knocked over unconscious by a barbarian king when his skills match that of Zaknafein. I also notice that Bruenor loves to mention about some ancient forgotten homeland dear to his race, This book is still as good as the first time I've read it more than 10 years ago. Having read more stories about Drizzt and going back it seems he is more chaotic in this one. His actions are more reckless and his skills seemed to be worse than he was in the Underdark. It seems strange that Drizzt managed to get knocked over unconscious by a barbarian king when his skills match that of Zaknafein. I also notice that Bruenor loves to mention about some ancient forgotten homeland dear to his race, be it Mithril Hall or Gauntlgrym.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Draganov

    Very entertaining fantasy novel, which introduces readers to one of the most popular characters in the modern fantasy genre, the dark elf ranger Drizzt do Urden. Full with action, dazzling swordsplay and memorable characters, it's a wonderful adventure, although not as great as "Homeland", the novel about how Drizzt turned into a good guy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    If any D&D friends have recommendations/thoughts/opinions to share, please do! If any D&D friends have recommendations/thoughts/opinions to share, please do!

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