Archmage by R.A. Salvatore

This is the first book in a (yet-another) trilogy (Homecoming) in the seemingly endless Dark Elf series of books. It continues without pause from where we left off in the previous trilogy: Bruenor’s quest to reclaim Gauntlgrym.

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Story: Bruenor marches with an army of dwarves to reclaim Gauntlgrym from the dark elves that hold it. Wulfgar and Regis bow out toward their own adventures in the very early part of the book but the rest of the principal cast is all present – no new characters are introduced and the minor characters trudge along. There is a secondary plot of Lolth trying to fool the Archmage of Menzoberranzan to allow demons free access to the Realms, and the usual bickering among the drow noble houses.

The main plot is fairly enjoyable if nothing new – again I feel like I’ve read this same book before. I do enjoy the large scale battles, especially as this time both sides are smart about it. But other subplots do not fare nearly as well. The evil goddess loses all her allure when portrayed as just an extension of a dark elf noble with similarly lame schemes. The whole drow noble house squabbles I’ve lost interest ten books past – the whole bickering feels more and more like a daytime soap. The Doum’wielle seems to complete without any real payout, leaving me wondering why the whole plot has been carried through multiple books. Even the titular character of the Archmage himself loses his luster as we ‘learn’ more about him. Unfortunately as the cover text alludes to the new few books concentrating on Drizzt returning to Menzoberranzan, these weak side plots are to become the main plot.

Interestingly perhaps the most promising feature of the book may lay outside of it – where Wulfgar and Regis go off on their own. With any luck their book at least will go to whole new places and gives us entirely new plot lines. I have seen enough of Neverwinter, Luskan, the dwarf kingdoms and near regions and they no longer hold anything interesting. Way back when in Stream of Silver the world felt new and large – in fact, travelling took up the whole book. These days characters hop from place to place in a manner not unlike just getting on a plane.

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