Forgettable realm

The Crystal Shard (The Icewind Dale Trilogy #1)
by R.A. Salvatore

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My first dive into the Forgotten Realms, written in 1988. Salvatore‘s first novel. You can tell that he must be a huge Tolkien fan. For example Regis (cough*Bilbo*cough) sounds awfully familiar with his short height and furry toes… And we get an elf and a dwarf engaging in funny banter…. right!

Spine of the World twanged my memory as well. I checked and the first Wheel of Time novel was published two years later. That book also very heavily copied elements of LOTR.

Ok, so we have a halfling, an elf and a dwarf. Now we need a wizard and a human with mysterious heritage and two more sidekicks to get the party going… Eventually we get a barbarian to fill the spot of the humans. Our bad guy is not quite Saruman, but a rather sad example of the evil wizard in thrall of a higher force.

A nice touch is the dark elf with his magical animal sidekick. He‘s the only original and somehwat interesting character in this tale.

The whole book had one female character and she did not show up often or have a lot of dialogue. Definitely not passing the Bechdel test. Granted, Tolkien didn‘t do better in that regard. However, roughly 35 years later Salvatore could have done so.

This is very underwhelming. A bit like average LOTR fanfic. Although Salvatore moves away from the LOTR plot a lot more quickly than for example the first book of WOT. 

First book, right? Who knows, the following books might become more imaginative and suspenseful. I have a few of them, bought cheaply through Humble Bundle. I am not in a hurry to get to them, but will do so eventually, hoping that the writing will get better. 

I skimmed through large parts of this book. What where my issues? Very predictable, therefore boring. It never felt as if the good guys (with shades of grey) where in any danger to not make it to the sequels. The bad guy was really stupid, the typical, cackling cardboard version of evilness. The characters were all pretty one-dimensional and unreflected. There was nothing new or inspiring in the story. If you want some shallow sword-and-sorcery without surprises for a chilled afternoon on the sofa, go for it. I was bored.