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Exile: The Legend of Drizzt Book 2
R.A. Salvatore
Wizards of the Coast, 325 pages


Art: Todd Lockwood/Matt Adelsperger
Exile
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: Homeland
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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Drizzt has found his way into the labyrinths of the Underdark, where he has made a life for himself near a grove of half men, half mushroom myconid. He raises rothé to eat and hunts the caverns with his truest friend Guenhwyvar at his side, when needed. He slowly understands that he is losing himself, that he is becoming the Hunter alone, and that all the ideas he held dear, the person who left Menzoberranzan in order to live a good life according to his ideals, is being lost. After a less than pleasant reunion with his family, who want him dead in order to appease their cruel goddess, he decides to venture into the realm of the svirfnebli. Belwar, who Drizzt saved in the last book, Homeland, recognizes the drow, and so he's accepted into their city. Drizzt learns about friendship and a entirely new culture and way of living, but the idyll can't last. Malice has raised the body of Drizzt's beloved mentor, Zaknefein, and has sent this most powerful fighter against the student he taught. Only we know this. Drizzt just knows that he is being sent away because he's a danger to his new friends. Belwar insists on coming along, and the two venture into the Underdark.

Unlike the last book, where the full horrors of the Underdark are only hinted at, in Exile we explore the place in all its glory. We meet unusual creatures, a couple are benevolent, but mostly terrible creatures who see themselves as far above our heroes on the food chain. We find that the drow are not the only evil society that makes its life in the depths, and that even the most innocent looking of things can be deadly. It makes for a very exciting adventure; mad wizards, caverns of acid, a city of mind flayers who enslave everyone not like them. Drizzt and Belwar have plenty of close calls and scrapes, but through it all they are followed by the implacable Zak, whose prowess at the blade might be even more uncanny that Drizzt's.

There is a great deal of heart in Exile. Sure, we have tons of adventures, and Drizzt is in a situation where more often than not his scimitars will come out, (sure he'd love to sit down and discuss things peacefully, but you can't do that when something's trying to kill you), and we'll be in the middle of some of the finest fight scenes I've ever read. But there's a lot of underlying emotion that takes it above all this. Drizzt writes introductions to the different sections. He's not talking to us. He's talking to himself, writing very private journal entries that attempt to make sense of his thoughts and feelings and actions. You can feel his loneliness, his desperation to be the kind of person he believes he could be. Everything he learns in this book teaches him about friendship, but it also teaches him about himself, and gives him some of the things he'll need to shrug off Underdark and make the eventual trip out into the sun. The voice is such that, when Zak's brought back to life, you truly feel bad for Drizzt, because you know he'll really be torn if he has to fight his own mentor, a man we know to be his father.

And extremely interesting book, it's the second book of the Dark Elf Trilogy. Sojourn, the next book, will be out just in time for the holidays.

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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