I might have found my new favourite fantasy series.
As an avid Dungeons and Dragons player, I like playing video game adaptations of the beloved TTRPG. My current favourite is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance. From the second I hit play, I fell in love with the playable characters, but in particular a certain Drow Rogue by the name of Drizzt Do’Urden.
While I had heard about the Forgotten Realms novels. I didn’t find out until recently that there is a trilogy dedicated to Drizzt. I just had to read them, starting with the first one.
Homeland by R. A. Salvatore is the first in The Dark Elf Trilogy, a prequel to The Icewind Dale Trilogy. In this novel, we follow Drizzt Do’Urden through his early life. From his birth to growing up in Drow society, life isn’t easy for him. Menzoberranzan, The City of Spiders, isn’t exactly the ideal place to create a happy childhood.
Drow society is pretty messed up. Their version of justice and morality is twisted by our standards. For example, murder and wiping out an entire bloodline is alright, provided you don’t get caught. From a young age, they are indoctrinated to hate anyone that isn’t Drow. Also, male Drow like Drizzt are seen as second class citizens to female Drow, if they are lucky. He is deemed to be nothing more than a pawn for his family, especially his mother, Matron Malice.
I will say, this isn’t the Drizzt I came to know. It was interesting seeing him grow and take his first steps into becoming the legend he is recognised as these days. Watching him overcome terrifying trials and tribulations while still so young was fascinating. I found it downright painful at points when his trust is betrayed, or he learns dark truths about his family. I felt so bad for him, but knowing who he becomes is beyond admirable.
I have a bit of a bugbear when it comes to fantasy novels. To make a long story short, they can be a bit of a slough to get through. With so much worldbuilding and exposition I understand why they are often on the slow and dense side. However, this is not a problem here. We have a short chapter or two to introduce us to Menzoberranzan, but most of the exposition is explained during the Do’Urden attack on House DeVir.
Also, I am typically not fond of action scenes in written work. It can be a bit off for lack of a better term. However, R. A. Salvatore’s dynamic writing style made me feel like I was right in the heart of the action too. His fight scenes are something else. He is also a master of atmosphere, there is a lingering oppressive air that affects the reader during key moments in the novel, mainly when Matron Malice is involved.
Homeland is a dark and twisted tale. I can’t warn you enough. Going into it aware of the basics of Drow society, I was prepared for child-killing, abuse of power and other nasties. But even I was shocked at times by the brutality. So consider yourself warned if you want to pick up this title.
As you could probably tell, I adored Homeland. It was dynamic, adventurous and heartbreaking at times. I can’t wait for the second novel, Exile, to arrive so I can continue to watch him develop as both a person and a hero. Homeland is a must-read for any lover of all things Dungeons and Dragons.