Quick Review: The Icewind Dale Trilogy, by RA Salvatore

Years ago, when I played the video game Baldur’s Gate, there was an encounter with a character that the player was obviously supposed to think was famous or something. I’d never read any of the Forgotten Realms novels so I’d never heard of him, but as a marketing ploy it worked, at least on me, because I went out and bought this completely unremarkable fantasy novel. I’ve never written a review before now because I’d forgotten most of what happens within a week of reading it. But the main characters are:

Drizzt Do’Urden – A dark elf who is notable for being both dark and an elf.

A dwarf chieftain or king or something – I forget his name, but just imagine what you think a dwarf chieftain or king or something is like and that’s him.

Wulfgar – A barbarian on a life long quest to find a wizard who will grant him a personality.

Catti-Brie – A woman who all the male characters reluctantly agree to treat as if she is their equal.

I think there might have been a halfling as well. But on to the plot, which in the first book is something about a crystal that makes a tower, or something, and if Drizzt doesn’t stop it then it’s highly unlikely anyone else will bother.

On a serious note though, I don’t know if it was ever Salvatore’s intention, but Drizzt seems to have started a trend among fantasy and fanfic writers of using Drow characters, who are afterall dark skinned elves, as an analogy for real-life prejudice and racism. This has always troubled me slightly because it just doesn’t work. You see, the thing about real-life prejudice is that it’s baseless and irrational. But the thing about Drow is, with only a few exceptions such as Drizzt, almost all the ones you meet in these books (and in the video game), actually are scheming murderous bastards who are out to torture and kill everybody, including themselves. So the message you’re trying to give us about prejudice is that most of the time it’s right but maybe there’s one or two of those unfortunates who can rise above what they’re born as to be more like us? Uh-huh… sorry, but, no.

That aside, the books themselves are… not terrible. But nothing really special either. They’re an adequate product, which is probably all they were ever meant to be.

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