In the geeky circles that I frequent, I have heard the name R.A. Salvatore and his reputation for storytelling for years now. Yet, until a few months ago, I had never read any of his work. That changed in February when Wizards of the Coast sent me a review copy of his latest book, "The Last Threshold". "February?" You might be asking, "And you are just reviewing it now?" Yes I am, but let me explain. "The Last Threshold" is part 4 of the "Neverwinter Saga", and I had not read the other three parts. I thought about just reading this book by itself and seeing how it stood on its own, but the OCD part of me simply would not let me jump into the story near the end. I went on Amazon and bought the first three parts of the story and have spent the past few months reading the whole saga. After the break, I'll tell you what I think of the story, and of this book in particular.
Taking place in the D&D campaign setting of the Forgotten Realms; The Neverwinter Saga continues the story of Salvatore's famous dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden. A few bits and pieces of his history prior to this series are scattered through the four books but Drizzt is a ranger who broke free of the twisted and deceitful ways of his people, the drow, and set out to uphold a more moral code. Prior to the first book in this saga, he had been living and adventuring with the Dwarves up in Icewind Dale, and this series details what happens after he leaves the dwarves to set upon new adventures. In particular, the four stories surround the town of Neverwinter (I bet you never would have guessed that!) and some of the troubles that fall upon that town. The Last Threshold picks up after a couple of the main plot points wrap up in the other three books and grabs a few of the remaining questions from the other books and weaves its own story to conclude the series.
Overall, I loved the Neverwinter books. I was blown away by Salvatore's compelling story as I watched it unfold throughout the four books. I am very glad that having not read any of the previous Drizzt books, I could pick up the first book in this series, "Gauntlgrym", and not feel like I was missing part of the story. As I mentioned earlier, bits of Drizzt's previous adventures can be found throughout all four books, but they merely add to the story, helping the reader (especially one who has not read any of the other adventures) understand the motivations of the present characters.
Of all the four books, however, I felt as if "The Last Threshold" was a little flat. There were points in the book where I could feel the drama and tension build up - only to reach scenes that resolved the situation in a very non-suspensful manner. This would be only mildly disappointing if it happened only once - but I felt this same situation happen at least one or two more times throughout the book. In fact, the conclusion to the book played out in this manner. There were some suspenseful scenes happening in the last couple of chapters, and as I kept reading I wondered how everything was going to wrap up in time for the book. Instead of a good ending, it felt as if Salvatore still had more to tell, but he reached the end of his alloted pagecount and just needed to wrap up the story really quickly. There were even some big overall questions and themes that ran through the entire book that were not even answered!
Doing a bit of research, I found that the first book in the next Forgotten Realms series is being penned by Salvatore and features Drizzt; set to come out this August. I am curious to see if some of the problems I have with this book will be fixed after I read that book. As someone who has not read any of the other series, these issues could simply be hooks that Salvatore uses to get people to continue onward into the next series. We shall have to see. Either way, I definitely recommend that you pick up the four books in the Neverwinter Saga to read. The last one may be a bit lacking, but that's only because it stands in comparison to the three solid books that came before it.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?