You know, I haven’t read a bit of pulp fantasy in a while (the previous Salvatore I read was five years ago, and that review was fun to re-read because it touched on my old gaming memories). I read The Lord of the Rings last year, I know, but this book is pulp fantasy regardless of its hard cover and dust jacket.
Within it, the son of a duke chafes under his father’s accommodation of a wizard who rules the land through his Cyclops army and subwizard governors. After he slays one of the one-eyed centurions, he flees his home and his birthright and takes up with a halfling thief. They meet a good, or at least not as bad as the baddest, wizard who tricks them into invading a dragon’s lair but gives them magic items for their trouble, including a cloak of invisibility. The duo move onto a town and live the lives of successful thieves until the cloak of invisibility reanimates the legend of its previous owner, the Crimson Shadow, and reanimates the town residents’ hopes for freedom.
As always, this is but one book in a trilogy, so it sets some things in motion that I won’t see conclude. It’s a decent enough read, but the climax and the denouement, such as they are, come rather suddenly. So, like I said in 2006, I won’t shy away from Salvatore’s other works, but I’m not running out to get them right now.
I had another thought while reading it: In modern suspense and thriller pulp, it’s pretty common to knock authors who make mistakes with guns. Is it only our lack of true familiarity as a culture with ancient weapons–aside from some real hardcore SCA geeks and the like–that keeps us from nitpicking the use of a sword? As I read this book, I noticed that the army of the Cyclopses used a variety of weapons straight out of the Dungeons and Dragons equipment charts. Thrown spears and bows for missile weapons, and then swords, battle axes, and polearms for bladed weapons. Wouldn’t you expect an army, especially an invading/occupying sort of army to have more standard equipment? Nah, I’m just trying to nitpick where none is warranted.
Books mentioned in this review: