The Companions by RA Salvatore

Rating 5.5/10
The Companions was a disappointing book for me.

The Companions by R. A. Salvatore is the first book in a new Forgotten Realms series called The Sundering, a series focused on a chaotic event designed to transition everyone to the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and to act as an accessible entry point for new readers. Each of the six books in the series are written by different authors focusing on different sets of popular characters as they react to The Sundering. Salvatore is obviously responsible for Drizzt (his 24th Drizzt novel, though the book doesn't really focus on Drizzt), and I have to say after reading this book, I think it's time to finally lay Drizzt, and the Companions of the Hall, to rest.

*** SPOILERS ***

So first of all, a little context. The Sundering is a singularity event - the separation of Toril and Abeir after they became connected when Lord Ao destroyed the Tablets of Fate (circa 1989, the transition to the 2nd edition of D&D). With the gods no longer walking the mortal realm they must choose a mortal to act as their champion and carry out their bidding - Drizzt has been chosen by Mielikki, Goddess of the Hunt. There is a problem though... Drizzt is a mess. His friends have all passed away and as a result he is no longer as pliable / willing to do the work of a higher power. So Mielikki gathers Wulfgar, Cattie-Brie, Bruenor and Regis together in the afterlife and makes them an offer - reincarnation to the world of the living on the provision that they help out Drizzt in the hour of his greatest need.

As I alluded to in the first paragraph, The Companions is not exactly a Drizzt story but rather three separate stories with a strong connection to Drizzt. In The Companions we get to see Cattie-Brie, Bruenor and Regis spread out across Toril, with their new reincarnated lives. The characters have to endure growing up again, and we have to endure watching them grow up. For me, this was just boring, and despite the occasional glimpses of excitement, I never at any stage got into the book or felt connected to the characters. The reincarnated characters are just lacking depth, with Salvatore relying on the depth he established in their previous lives over the course of many many books. And I can't really blame Salvatore for writing his characters in this way, I wouldn't want to throw away 20+ years of character development for the sake of a reboot either.

The Companions was a disappointing book for me. I was hoping that as a casual reader of the Forgotten Realms books I could step in with this first book of The Sundering series and reignite my passion for this world and the stories contained within. I was also excited for the other Sundering books. and they still may be more effective at meeting my expectations, but The Companions has left me hesitant to try them out. I don't think it matters whether you are a die-hard fan or brand new to the series, you will either love this book or hate it depending on how well you are able to connect with the three main characters.

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