The Pirate King by RA Salvatore (Transitions: Book 2)

It is four years since the events of The Orc King, and there is uneasy peace between Obould's orcs and the dwarves of Mithral Hall. It is here that The Pirate King begins, marking the middle book of Salvatore's Transitions trilogy and his 21st Drizzt novel.

Though it begins here, The Pirate King proves itself to be one of the most original books in the series, and Salvatore reaches to new heights of storytelling, radically altering (yet again) the face of D&D's Forgotten Realms universe. I may be one of the odd people who love this series and yet have not played a single round of D&D – and even I can tell how shocking these events are for the universe.

The book centres around the port city of Luskan, and features a cast of new faces, and few familiar ones are to be found. The whole company are seen briefly at the novel's start, but then they begin going their separate ways. The plot revolves around Drizzt and Regis as they travel to find Wulfgar, who departed Mithral Hall in the last book to seek a life among his barbarian peoples in the outer reaches of Icewind Dale. Along the way they get caught up in the power struggles of Luskan. The people set out in full-blown rebellion against the Hosttower of the Arcane, led by none other than Captain Deudermont (a Drizzt character blast from the past), while the pirate captains have their own, hidden, designs. There are a few other characters from long ago in the series, but their presence is part of the book's ending, so I can hardly give them away here. The truly odd element of the book is that the only main characters to appear are Drizzt and Regis. None of the others even appear after fifty pages.

Unlike The Orc King, which threatened to collapse into a morass of ethical quandaries to spoil the fun, this is pure adventure. While the moral quagmires are there, they don't play nearly the foundational thematic role they did in the last one. The long time Drizzt fan will breath deep and satisfied to be back in Luskan and fighting alongside old friends. Some may find the story odd, given the prominent absence of all but two of our main company, but so focused is the narrative that I didn't mind. The story will probably be even more interesting to those who have lived with the Forgotten Realms for a while, since they can watch Salvatore radically reshape their world.

8/10 This is pure adventure.

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