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Homeland: The Legend of Drizzt Book 1
R.A. Salvatore
Wizards of the Coast, 321 pages


Art: Todd Lockwood/Matt Adelsperger
Homeland
R.A. Salvatore
R.A. Salvatore, a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, has some two dozen books to his credit. His first book was published in 1988. The Crystal Shard came from TSR, a Forgotten Realms title. Two years later, with his first novel and its sequel sold to Penguin, he quit his day job. When not writing, Salvatore spends time speaking to high schools and library groups, encouraging people, especially kids, to read.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Highwayman
SF Site Review: The Demon Spirit
SF Site Review: The Demon Awakens

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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Dinin Do'Urden has, under the command of his mother Malice, arranged a cunning attack on a rival house in the shadows of the Underdark city of Menzoberranzan. While his mother gives birth to his little brother, Dinin and his elder brother attack the house of DeVir, even arranging it so that the young son of that house is murdered at the school where he is taking training. This is the way of the land; one may overtake another house, and destroy it utterly, rising their own house up in the ranks, but only if every single member of that house is eradicated, leaving no one to accuse the murderers of their deed. For nothing is illegal in Menzoberranzan, the only rule is that anything is fine as long as you can get away with it and it doesn't displease their goddess, the Spider Queen Lolth.

Just as Malice gives birth to her son, Dinin slips a dagger into his brother, doing the new born Drizzt a great favor, for all third born sons are sacrificed to Lolth. Instead, he is given to his sister to raise, a strange almost cheerful little boy with bright purple eyes and a strange mixture of compassion and defiance. In a world where the males of the species are considered the lesser, and disobedience earns a swift, horrible punishment, his only salvation is being taken in by Zaknafein, the finest weapons-master in the city, if not the whole of Underdark, who teaches him how to use all the weapons, but most especially those twin scimitars with which long time fans of Drizzt are so familiar.

He also allows Drizzt the freedom to think. He's not beaten into obedience constantly, and so as we follow him through his education, first with Zak, then when he goes to the Academy, we see he is faced with many moral challenges. He sees wrongs all around him, as does Zak, and he tries to figure out what is truly the right way to live. Instead of coasting along, going the easy way that is expected of him (and, indeed, the way that would please and gain him rewards), he finds himself struggling with his own idea of how things should be done. A good being surrounded by monsters, he has no idea that there might be someone else who feels the same as he does. It takes a great deal of courage to rebel against your whole world, and the troubles this lands him in, as well as the waiting to see if he'll eventually cave, even just a little bit, are the forces that make Homeland so readable.

Another fascinating aspect is the setting, which is rich and unusual. We spend 99% of the time in Underdark, where there is no light. The eyes of the creatures, some even less benevolent than the drow elves, have learned to see differently. The city is beautifully rendered, a place of danger, as beautiful as a poisonous snake, and the rules of this society are chilling. It is also fun to see where the legend begins. Since the whole of the reissue will be about 13 books long, you might have picked up a book much later in the series, and wondered, how did we get here? Why does Drizzt use those two blades, how did he come to possess the statue that calls his only constant friend and trusted companion, the black panther Guenhwyvar. Since my only other encounter with Drizzt was in a short story, I feel like I have a rare privilege in starting at the beginning. What a beginning it is.

This is book one of the Dark Elf Trilogy, first published in 1990. The two hardcover editions I have on hand (this one, and Exile) are absolutely lovely.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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