Homeland by R.A. Salvatore
My Rating: ★★★✩✩
Homeland is a solid fantasy adventure, set in the world of the Icewind Dale, the Dungeons and Dragons based computer RPG that I've been playing with a friend. It tells the story of how Drizzt, a dark elf who's story was first told in the Icewind Dale trilogy, became an outcast from the deeply evil and chaotic Dark Elves, and begins the Legend Of Drizzt. Nothing to set the world on fire, but interesting enough for me to both read and get the second in the series.
Menzoberranzen is an underground city, virtually a world all in itself (although the economies, feeding and other basic civil engineering feats are never explained). Here in this perpetual darkness live the Dark Elves (or Drow), a chaotic evil society who's basic tenet is that if you can get away with it, you should do it. A strict hierarchy of "houses" rules this strong matriarchy, and the top 8 houses form a ruling council. If you want to move up, you need to completely wipe out a house "in front of you", so each moves up one position. And by completely wipe out, we mean to the very last survivor (or witness). Do this, and your house is cool in the eyes of the Spider Queen Lloth, the evil deity all serve.
Drizzt is born just as his house (ranked 10th) attacks the 4th ranked house, and his life is to be sacrificed to Lloth. But he escapes this fate (obviously!) and grows to be a curious little Drow, as he doesn't understand the bloodthirsty Drow and their spider deity. Although he gets sent to all the right places and learns to be a swordsamn (using scimitars!) of unparalleled mastery, he always doubts the evil society and finally escapes (or is banished - sort of "I quit", "You can't quit you're fired" scenario) to the far reaches of the Underdark.
I enjoyed the book, although the writing could be a bit wooden. Drizzt also seemed to be a bit of a whiner and I never truly got to understand his hatred of a society he never knew an alternative to, besides the fact he had blue eyes. Many of the fight scenes, while packed with action, seemed to provide unnecessary and even confusing details.
I guess the "first" three books were written as a sort of prequel to the original 3 books of the Icewind Dale trilogy, so it can be a little confusing to figure out what order to read them in. I've decided to read them in story-chronology order, so I've already ordered up book 2, Exile. It was actually my first eBook purchase (I read Homeland on my Nook as well), used to test the Borders.com eBook coupon usage. Short review - worked fine, but it takes several hours from purchase to actually bein able to download the book, which was weird, I thought. But like I said, it was good enough for me to finish and order the second, so go with that.
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