The Streams of Silver are just one of many treasures to be found in this fantastic adventure!
For over a century, Bruenor Battlehammer has been haunted by his past. In his nightmares, he still feels the horrors from the day he and his dwarven clan were chased out of their home at Mithral Hall. But when he and his friends defeated the evil wizard Akar Kessell and saved the people of Icewind Dale, Bruenor realized he now has a fighting unit strong enough to help him reclaim his lost home. Joined by drow-elf warrior Drizzt Do'Urden and barbarian fighter Wulfgar, Bruenor embarks on a dangerous quest to find the lost city of Mithral Hall...but they are surprised when their cowardly friend, Regis the Halfling, insists on coming with them. What they don't know is that Regis isn't merely haunted
by his own past...he's being hunted
by it! Regis stole a magical ruby pendant from thief guild leader Pasha Pook. Now Pook wants it back, so he has sent the Realms' deadliest assassin to retrieve both the pendant and the halfling himself! Master assassin Artemis Entreri has never failed a mission before...of course, that might just be because he's never faced Drizzt Do'Urden before!"The Crystal Shard"
was R.A. Salvatore's first book, and while I found it very enjoyable, there were elements of it that led me to believe Salvatore hadn't quite perfected his craft. The villains were bland, the complete lack of female characters was disappointing, and the overall story felt like it wasn't so much written as it was simply copy/pasted from the "Lord of The Rings"
series. I'm happy to report that Salvatore's follow-up novel, "Streams of Silver"
, is an improvement in just about every way! For one thing, there is far more originality to be found. While the main storyline involving our heroes embarking on a quest is hardly anything new (spoiler alert for any new reader...pick up just about ANY book on the fantasy shelf, and chances are the story revolves around some kind of "quest"), Salvatore did stretch his creative muscles coming up with new threats for Drizzt and company to face. I knew I was in for a wild ride early on when the heroes faced off against a wild pack of barbarians (although I do wish Salvatore had given them a more intimidating name than "The Sky Ponies"
)!"WHEEE!!! We're The Sky Ponies! Why are we so feared?!? Ask yourself this question...would YOU want to have to tell your everyone you got your ass kicked by us?!?"
While a band of barbarian fighters may not seem so original, Salvatore really ups the ante when one of the Sky Ponies is forcibly mutated into a ghostly (and pissed-off) Pegasus-like creature! From then on, things get refreshingly original. One chapter that takes place entirely in a magical city where streams flow upward
and people cross bridges from underneath would feel right at home in a Terry Pratchett novel. By the time the heroes were forced to fight tree-like "bog blokes" and zombie-like trolls, I had come to recognize that R.A. Salvatore's imagination was far more magical than any of the spells that are cast throughout the book!
In addition to a more satisfying story, the characters are more fleshed out this time as well. While Drizzt was easily the stand-out character in the last book, Bruenor, Wulfgar, and even craven Regis are given more emotional depth this time around. Some particularly poignant moments include Bruenor's sense of loss from remembering his people's exile from Mithral Hall, and Regis's pangs of guilt from endangering his friends by bringing them into Artemis's crosshairs. Also, Bruenor's adoptive human daughter Catti-brie is along for the ride this time around, and while at first she seems to serve little more purpose than "damsel-in-distress", it is truly marvelous to watch Catti-brie take control of her situation as the story goes on and outsmart some of the book's most dangerous villains. And speaking of villains...Artemis says, "I'm such an expert marksman, I can hit any target with a knife...even myself! Wait, that...that didn't sound nearly as impressive as I thought it would!"
While Akar Kessell in "The Crystal Shard"
never amounted to anything more than a fantasy-villain stereotype, the antagonists in "Streams of Silver
are far more fun to root for against! Artemis Entreri has some genuinely chilling moments, and he is the first adversary in The Icewind Dale trilogy who feels like he could truly be a match for even Drizzt. Another fun evildoer is Sydney, an apprentice mage who assists Artemis in order to further her own ambitions. Rather than giving us villains who are evil merely for the sake of being evil, Artemis and Sydney have their own individual desires and values, and that gives them some much-needed depth. Even the lesser-villains in this story are more interesting that the main villain from the last book. Sydney's mentor Dendybar the Mottled, who was largely responsible for Akar Kessell's corruption in the previous novel, returns to find himself being manipulated by the ghost of one of his past victims. And no adversary who has appeared in Icewind Dale trilogy so far manages to be more terrifying that what waits for our band of heroes in the book's final battle!
With deeper characters, more imaginative twists, and greater villains, "Streams of Silver"
is even more impressive than its predecessor. I was enthralled right up to the very last sentence. In fact, the ending was actually the only part I didn't like, as it sets up such a brilliant cliffhanger, now the wait until I get to the next book will be that much more excruciating...