FSFH Book Review

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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto
Allen, Roger MacBride
Allie, Scott
Allston, Aaron
Anderson, Kevin J.
Barclay, James
Barnes, Steven
Baum, L. Frank
Bear, Greg
Bendis, Brian Michael
Bischoff, David
Bisson, Terry
Blackman, Haden
Bova, Ben
Bowen, Carl
Brooks, Terry
Canavan, Trudi
Card, Orson Scott
Chadwick, Paul
Clarke, Arthur C.
Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
David, Peter
DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
Howard, Robert E.
Jacques, Brian
James, Charlie Hamilton
Jenkins, Paul
Jeter, K. W.
Johns, Geoff
Jones, J. V.
Jordan, Robert
Jurgens, Dan
Karpyshyn, Drew
Kennedy, Mike
Kerr, Katharine
Keyes, Greg
King, Stephen
King, William
Knaak, Richard A.
Kube-McDowell, Michael P.
Lawhead, Stephen
Layman, John
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lewis, C. S.
Lieberman, A. J.
Loeb, Jeph
Lorey, Dean
Lowder, James
Luceno, James
Lumley, Brian
Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
Marz, Ron
Matheson, Richard
McCaffrey, Anne
McIntosh, Neil
McIntyre, Vonda
Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
Milligan, Peter
Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
Nylund, Eric
O'Neil, Dennis
Ostrander, John
Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
Perry, Steve
Pratchett, Terry
Pullman, Philip
Quinn, David
Reaves, Michael
Reed, A. W.
Reed, Brian
Rice, Anne
Richardson, Nancy
Roberts, Adam
Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
Shelley, Mary
Shultz, Mark
Simone, Gail
Simonson, Louise
Simonson, Walter
Smith, L. Neil
Spurrier, Simon
Stackpole, Michael A.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stewart, Sean
Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
Williams, Sean
Williams, Tad
Williams, Walter Jon
Windham, Ryder
Wolverton, Dave
Woodring, Jim
Wurts, Janny
Yeovil, Jack
Zahn, Timothy
Collaborations A - F
Collaborations G - M
Collaborations N - R
Collaborations S
Collaborations T - Z
Anthologies A - R
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Anthologies T - Z
Still to come
Reviewing Literature
The Books of R.A. Salvatore

Born in Massachusetts in 1959, R.A. Salvatore created one of the most beloved of fantasy characters for the Forgotten Realms series of novels; the heroic dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden.  He is also responsible for beginning the epic Star Wars story arc 'The New Jedi Order' and will go down in Sci-fi history as the man who killed Chewbacca.
Average Review Score: 4 out of 5 (6 books)

Forgotten Realms: Homeland
In this story we are introduced to the subterranean society of the cruel and evil Drow elves.  Into this harsh and unforgiving world is born Drizzt Do'Urden an unparallelled warrior who shows signs of morals and principles that mean death under the laws of the Spider Queen Lloth.  Drizzt's struggle to keep his identity whilst attempting to remain among his cruel people is an inspiring read.  His character is brilliantly mirrored by his father, Zaknafein, who shares Drizzt's principles but whose hope has given way to despair.  This book isn't the best fantasy read around, I found some of Menzoberranzan's politics to be a bit boring, but it is an excellent starting place for those who wish to meet Drizzt, who to my mind is one of the most interesting characters in modern fantasy.
3 out of 5
Forgotten Realms: Exile
The second book of The Dark Elf Trilogy, 'Exile' is the story of Drizzt Do'Urden as he ventures out into the wider world of the Underdark for the first time.  Instead of having to struggle with his people's inherant evil, this time Drizzt's emotional battle is internal, as he fights to control 'the Hunter', a savage personality that has grown within him during his years living alone in the wilds.  The resurrection of Zaknafein is a clever twist in that it provides a nemesis for Drizzt who has the talent and skill to truly be a match for the hero.  Belwar is the perfect companion to Drizzt and their relationship is one of this book's strongest factors.  Clacker's tragic sub-plot is also guaranteed to make your heart ache with pity.  The only real problem I have with 'Exile' is Belwar's hands.  As if a gnome with a hammer and a pick-axe for hands wasn't bizarre enough, Salvatore makes no attempt to describe the practicalities of such a thing.  We're given no indication of how Belwar eats, dresses himself etc. (lord only knows how he pees!) and that seemed to be a failing on the author's part.
4 out of 5
Forgotten Realms: Sojourn
The final part of the Dark Elf trilogy is the best by far.  It begins with Drizzt, having left the Underdark, beginning to learn about the surface world.  His first encounter with other creatures, gnolls, leads him to kill them to protect a family of human farmers, which leaves him guilty and confused about whether he was justified.  His guilt deepens when he is framed for the murder of those selfsame humans and is pursued by a group of rangers.  His brief interaction with one of these rangers, a surface elf, is one of this book's finest moments.  Among his pursuers is the book's villain, a brutal and vengeful man named (unfortunately) Roddy McGristle.  When Drizzt finds the old man Mooshie, the pain and misery of the previous two books lightens considerably and the Battle of Mooshie's Grove is a great prelude to the style of the Icewind Dale books.  What I enjoyed most about the book was Drizzt's eventual arrival in the Icewind Dale, after going through considerable personal changes, and the tentative way he makes friends of a young human girl named Cattie-brie and a gruff dwarf named Bruenor.
5 out of 5
Forgotten Realms: The Icewind Dale Trilogy
This omnibus contains the books 'The Crystal Shard', 'Streams of Silver' and 'The Halfling's Gem'.  Here we have a trilogy of books that are absolutely top-notch fantasy, very much on a par with Raymond E. Feist and David Eddings.  Hell, in these books Salvatore shows a mastery of the epic that puts him closely beneath Tolkien himself.  The main characters are a group of friends who are the driving force behind the sweeping story and, unlike many fantasy books that use the 'sheltered farm/country/kitchen boy saves the world' theme, Salvatore's heroes are all experienced warriors.  Wulfgar is a barbarian who is the character that shows the most growth and Bruenor is the grizzled father-figure.  Those two are offset by the feminine, but no less fierce, Cattie-Brie and the lazy but surprisingly heroic halfling Regis.  Finally there's Drizzt Do'Urden, whose struggle against the prejudice engendered by his dark elf heritage makes a deep and moving emotional hook.  My one problem with this book is the way in which the heroes repeatedly seem to die, only to turn up later, very much alive.  In fact, one such 'death' is a little bit too LOTR for my tastes, with one of the heroes falling into the dark depths of an abandoned dwarf mine whilst struggling against a mighty beast (there's even fire and shadow).
5 out of 5
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones
The novelisation of George Lucas' latest money spinner.  The problem with this book is (and this is not Salvatore's fault but Lucas') that the story of 'Episode II' is pants when the CGI Clonetroopers and visually dynamic lightsaber duels are removed.  Anakin is a whiny baby, Obi-Wan is quite dull and Padme is a waste of time.  The only character that you can really like is Jango Fett and he snuffs it!  I read this novelisation before the release of the film and have to say that I thought is was a terrible story.  I then went on to love the film, so it shows how much the Star Wars prequels owe to their visuals and lack in plot depth.  A very disappointing read in general.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Vector Prime
The first part of the multi-author New Jedi Order series.  Most of the other books in the NJO are very series-specific, but 'Vector Prime', being the first book, is much like the stand alone Star Wars books of Vonda McIntyre and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  And I should point out that that is a good thing!  Salvatore's writing style lends itself well to the epic Star Wars universe as well as the insidious new invaders and this novel is an undeniable triumph that fans and first-timers will love.  The death of Chewbacca was clearly a marketing scam by Lucas Licensing, but Salvatore manages to write it so tactfully that you wouldn't realise it.  As Luke comments in the 'Chewbacca' comic series from Dark Horse, "Chewie died being Chewie".  All in all a good Star Wars stand alone and an even better opening to the sweeping 19-book NJO series.
5 out of 5
'It was too peaceful out here, surrounded by the vacuum of space and with only the continual hum of the twin ion drives breaking the silence.'

If you like Salvatore:
Fans of his fantasy work would certainly enjoy the classic 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy and might also enjoy dipping further into the world of Faerun by reading some of the diverse titles in the 'Forgotten Realms' series.
If you enjoyed his Star Wars novels then I'd recommend in particular 'Shatterpoint' by Matthew Stover and 'Tatooine Ghost' by Troy Denning.

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