Rise of the King is the type of R.A. Salvatore novel that all his fans crave. It is quite simply a tour de force of action with fights scenes galore, warfare on a regional scale, personal acts of valor, and even a little time in between sword blows for some emotional interaction by the Companions of the Hall. Or to put it another way, everything that readers love about tales about Drizzt is on center stage here with none of the usual negatives to drag them down. Honestly, it is about as perfect a Forgotten Realms story as I think Mr. Salvatore can deliver, which means it is pure sword and sorcery fun.
As the second volume of the Companions Codex, this novel picks up were Night of the Hunter left off. The drow of Menzoberranzan under the control of Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre have unleashed their plan to destroy the Silver Marches and blame it upon Drizzt’s former House of Do’Urden. With a magic induced darkness covering the land, the orcs of the Kingdom of Many Arrows and their allies fall upon the dwarves, humans and elves of the region in overwhelming numbers.
As disaster after disaster mounts against the surprised defenders, they turn upon each another: human blaming dwarves, dwarf blaming human, elves blaming dwarves and humans, and everyone blaming dead King Bruenor. And with this animosity standing in the way of the formation of a coordinated defense, the great cities of the region find themselves isolated and alone, facing an enemy that is stronger than they ever imagined.
Into this situation stumble Drizzt, Bruenor, Catt-brie, Regis, and Wulfgar. Soon, they find themselves trapped in a besieged city, desperately trying to hold back their enemies, and hoping to discover some way to help stem the rising tide. But even as they confront the orcs of Many Arrows and Bruenor continues to tell Drizzt "I told you so" about the orcs, the drow and his wife Catt-brie attempt to come to term the idea that some races are beyond saving and must be hunted down and annihilated – an idea that chills Drizzt to the core, making him wonder at the fate of his own people.
In the background of our heroes struggle, the story of Drizzt’s former comrades Ambergris the dwarf cleric, Dahlia Sin'felle the elf warrior, and Afafrenfere the human monk continues to play out, promising that they will soon reappear to take a role in this titanic struggle taking place in the Silver Marches. And as always the ever mysterious and conniving Jarlaxle lurks in the background, pushing pieces around on the game board – his motives, as always, his own.
As I mentioned, this is about as good a Drizzt story as I can imagine Mr. Salvatore penning. Besides the stellar action sequences, there are the scattered interludes with Drizzt passing along his inner thoughts, the slowly budding friendship of the new Companions, and just enough of the drow political machinations to keep a reader turning pages. At the same time, Mr. Salvatore inserts enough references to old adventures by Drizzt and companion to make these people truly feel like old friends newly reacquainted. Because, honestly, wouldn’t Drizzt tell his wife and companions about struggles he went through or exciting daring-do they missed during their sojourns in the realms of death? Of course, he would, and while it does interrupt the narrative flow a bit, these tidbits of history really ring true for this resurrection of the Companions of the Hall.
All in all, Rise of the King is sword and sorcery at its finest. Mr. Salvatore might not be reinventing the wheel here, but what he does do is craft an entertaining tale that will sweep a reader away to the Forgotten Realms for a few hours. And isn’t that what most Drizzt fans really want? Yeah, it is, so go read this book already.
I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank both of them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.