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The Legend of Drizzt #4

The Crystal Shard

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Akar Kessel, weak-willed apprentice mage, starts events that find a magical device, the crystal shard. Dwarf Bruenor rescues barbarian Wulfgar from the ruins of Ten-Towns, for 5 years of service - and friendship. With help from renegade dark elf Drizzt, Wulfgar becomes a warrior with brawn and brains. Can the trio stave off the crystal shard forces?

344 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1988

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About the author

R.A. Salvatore

415 books9,784 followers
As one of the fantasy genre’s most successful authors, R.A. Salvatore enjoys an ever-expanding and tremendously loyal following. His books regularly appear on The New York Times best-seller lists and have sold more than 10,000,000 copies. Salvatore’s original hardcover, The Two Swords, Book III of The Hunter’s Blade Trilogy (October 2004) debuted at # 1 on The Wall Street Journal best-seller list and at # 4 on The New York Times best-seller list. His books have been translated into numerous foreign languages including German, Italian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Turkish, Croatian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Czech, and French.

Salvatore’s first published novel, The Crystal Shard from TSR in 1988, became the first volume of the acclaimed Icewind Dale Trilogy and introduced an enormously popular character, the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden. Since that time, Salvatore has published numerous novels for each of his signature multi-volume series including The Dark Elf Trilogy, Paths of Darkness, The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy, and The Cleric Quintet.

His love affair with fantasy, and with literature in general, began during his sophomore year of college when he was given a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as a Christmas gift. He promptly changed his major from computerscience to journalism. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications from Fitchburg State College in 1981, then returned for the degree he always cherished, the Bachelor of Arts in English. He began writing seriously in 1982, penning the manuscript that would become Echoes of the Fourth Magic. Salvatore held many jobs during those first years as a writer, finally settling in (much to our delight) to write full time in 1990.

The R.A. Salvatore Collection has been established at his alma mater, Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, containing the writer’s letters, manuscripts, and other professional papers. He is in good company, as The Salvatore Collection is situated alongside The Robert Cormier Library, which celebrates the writing career of the co-alum and esteemed author of young adult books.

Salvatore is an active member of his community and is on the board of trustees at the local library in Leominster, Massachusetts. He has participated in several American Library Association regional conferences, giving talks on themes including “Adventure fantasy” and “Why young adults read fantasy.” Salvatore himself enjoys a broad range of literary writers including James Joyce, Mark Twain, Geoffrey Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, and Sartre. He counts among his favorite genre literary influences Ian Fleming, Arthur Conan Doyle, Fritz Leiber, and of course, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Born in 1959, Salvatore is a native of Massachusetts and resides there with his wife Diane, and their three children, Bryan, Geno, and Caitlin. The family pets include three Japanese Chins, Oliver, Artemis and Ivan, and four cats including Guenhwyvar.

When he isn't writing, Salvatore chases after his three Japanese Chins, takes long walks, hits the gym, and coaches/plays on a fun-league softball team that includes most of his family. His gaming group still meets on Sundays to play.


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5 stars
21,948 (41%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,341 reviews
Profile Image for James Geluso.
29 reviews7 followers
September 6, 2008
This book sucked. Seriously, this is a classic? The story is good, and I can see why the character is popular among 12-year-old boys. He's a tormented drow! So he's cool-looking, but good! And he has a magic panther! And he can do just about anything, including run for days and command demons and all that.

The story, overall, isn't horrible. It's better than the base narrative of The Hobbit. But the writing, the writing, the overwrought writing, the exposition, the journal entries... argh.

Salvatore has been writing for 20 years, and maybe he's gotten better. But I should have read this when I was 15, and then I would have disliked it less.

I wonder how well those Dragonlance books would hold up if I read them now...
Profile Image for Adam.
168 reviews37 followers
June 25, 2018
Review of the audiobook narrated by Victor Bevine.

Between 10 and 20 years ago, back when I only read a handful of books each year, I read through most of this series (up to book 17 of The Legend of Drizzt). With my recent re-introduction to reading thanks to audiobooks I've had the opportunity to get to know a few of the more contemporary fantasy writers. With this, my first re-read in many years, I wanted to compare the old and the new with more than just faded memories.

The best part of this book, and the series as a whole, is Drizzt. While he's sometimes obnoxiously virtuous, his thoughts and motivations bring some real depth to a narrative which is sorely lacking in just that. Other that him what this book does well are the action sequences and being a faithful adaptation of D&D. The latter has meaning for me mostly due to my love of the Baldur's Gate I & II (which Drizzt appears in) and Icewind Dale (the setting for this book) PC games in the late 90's.

I can now see that the D&D connection can be negative as well, as the general abilities and motivations (or lack thereof) of the various races have already been established. There isn't a real reason why orcs, goblins or trolls are evil - it's just because they are of that race. There is also an overall lack of depth and a cast of one dimensional characters, making this a book I wouldn't recommend to start with. Certainly, you would want to start with Homeland, which I'm pretty sure is better without needing a re-read, then take a step back with the Icewind Dale trilogy, before moving forward with Salvatore.

Victor Bevine does an OK job. He's good with different race/character voices, but I didn't care for his regular narration voice. I'm hoping he gets better with the other books in the series.

Final verdict: 3.5 star story, 3.5 star narration, 3.5 stars overall (I'm rounding mostly up for posterity to keep this at a 4 star book, but if I was reading it for the first time this would more likely be a 3)

UPDATE 6/18/18 (2 days after writing the above review): I cannot in good conscience keep this rating at 4 stars so I have rounded down to 3 stars.
Profile Image for Miltos S..
119 reviews50 followers
January 19, 2019
Μια ιστορία φαντασίας στον κόσμο των Forgotten Realms γεμάτη από τα κλισέ των αντίστοιχων ιστοριών του είδους, απλή και χωρίς ιδιαίτερη έμπνευση. Διασκεδαστική, παρ' όλα αυτά.
Σίγουρα αξίζει να τη δουν οι νεαρότεροι φίλοι της κουλτούρας των RPGs.
Ένας λόγος παραπάνω που σε αυτό το βιβλίο εμφανίζεται για πρώτη φορά ο θρυλικός χαρακτήρας του Drizzt Do'Urden.
Profile Image for Fiver.
134 reviews6 followers
September 24, 2009
This beginning to the Icewind Dale trilogy is a guilty pleasure at best. I fully admit that I've read eight books in the entire Drizzt series, and that this kind of novel is just the thing I need to curl up with sometimes. But the sad truth is that it is books like this one that, in my opinion, sometimes give fantasy a bad name. Mr. Salvatore is undoubtedly more talented in writing than the format of these books might suggest (I'm sure he's writing for a fairly young audience), and the success of the series shows its popularity, but with only decent writing, only one really fleshed-out character, and plot that feels like watered-down and sugared-up Tolkien (and yes, the rip-offs are many), this book just isn't really something worth reading. Drizzt, the drow (dark elf), is a classic romantic character, who is just too noble to ever show any weakness, and too good with his scimitars to ever be beaten by anything. As much as I love that idea (I plan to go as Drizzt next Halloween), it is puddle-deep. The latter Dark Elf trilogy is better and deeper writing, although still not quite literary.
My suggestion? Try the Dark Elf trilogy. If it's too juvenile for you, then the Crystal Shard will be too, by bounds.
Profile Image for Markus.
470 reviews1,517 followers
August 3, 2018
Ah, the very beginning of the Drizzt saga. Such trope-ridden, archetypal innocence.

When a disgruntled and incompetent mage apprentice comes into contact with one of the most twisted, manipulative and overall evil artifacts in the Forgotten Realms, things go south quickly for the population of Icewind Dale. Enter Bruenor Battlehammer, Wulfgar the Barbarian and last, but certainly not least, Drizzt Do'Urden.

Having recently run The Legacy of the Crystal Shard, set a century later, for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, I must admit I liked that more than I enjoyed reading this, but it was quite interesting seeing where it all originated.

As R.A. Salvatore's debut novel, The Crystal Shard reeks of inexperienced, derivative fantasy, but there is also a distinct aroma of epic adventure that keeps you reading page after page.

Drizzt books are not masterpieces, but always enjoyable reads.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,399 reviews9,534 followers
April 18, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

It doesn't matter. I will always ♥ love ♥ Drizzt & his trusted companion, Guenhwyvar


Drizzt Do'Urden trotted along silently, his soft, low-cut boots barely stirring the dust. He kept the cowl of his brown cloak pulled low over the flowing waves of his stark white hair and moved with such effortless grace that an onlooker might have thought him to be no more than an illusion, an optical trick of the brown sea of tundra.

In the first part of the book we find Drizzt helping out a few of the towns against a barbarian raid. He has help from his dear friend, Bruenor Battlehammer who is a dwarf. I love the banter and camaraderie between the two.

During this battle one of the barbarians that was in a fight with Bruenor was hurt by Bruenor himself. But the dwarf felt a soft spot in his heart for this young barbarian and took him in without killing him. He told the barbarian named Wulfgar, that he had to work for him for a number of years and then he was free to go. Wulfgar and Bruenor started feeling like family and when the time was up, Bruenor sent Wulfgar to learn fighting skills from Drizzt.

Meanwhile.... in another part of the tundra, this jerk of a wizard (Akar Kessell) gets lucky and finds a powerful magical piece called the crystal shard. He uses this for bad things of course. Controlling all of the giants, orcs and bringing demons through portholes.. stuff like that. Of course Kessell is going to attack the villages (like will everyone just leave them alone) with his huge army. He has the barbarians on his side too.

Drizzt and Wulfgar become good friends while Wulfgar is learning to fight and then truly fighting the evil peeps with Drizzt and Bruenor. Then Wulfgar wanted to go back to his people, which worried the others a little bit. They shouldn't have worried, he brought them to their senses. I love Wulfgar too ♥

This, that and the other happens and it ends all happy ever after with some funny stuff thrown in here and there. Now they are on the next quest to somewhere that I'm not telling you :-D
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,957 reviews825 followers
February 1, 2021
Este es el escrito originalmente como primero, los tres anteriores son posteriores…y se nota que está menos pulido que aquellos. Los personajes son menos atractivos y el desarrollo de la historia, tres cuartos de lo mismo.
Aún así se lee agradablemente sin ser nada especial.

Ya me habían dicho que los mejores eran los tres anteriores, la "precuela", pero insisto en que es cómodo de leer. Sigo con el quinto.
Profile Image for Kevin Xu.
272 reviews96 followers
November 25, 2013
How many books do you know that a side character has more time than the main character then becomes the main character? That was the way for this book, which mean the character of Drizzt rather than for Wulfgar. One of the many reasons that why this book is different from most books in fantasy. This reason is the biggest reason that this is different from most of the book out there.
Profile Image for Kostas Papadatos.
52 reviews21 followers
June 12, 2016
Καταπληκτικό βιβλίο το οποίο διαβάζεται μονομιάς, απνευστί, μπλα, μπλα, μπλα και άλλα τέτοια ανέμπνευστα τετριμμένα. Επειδή όμως ο χρόνος είναι σχετικός που είπε και ο.. Πάπας ο Κλήμης(??) εγω τελείωσα την ανάγνωση του σε ένα μήνα.
Ο Άκαρ Κέσελ, κάτοχος του πανάρχαιου Κρυστάλλινου σκήπτρου και πανίσχυρος μάγος συγκεντρώνει πολυάριθμο στρατό ώστε να επιτεθεί στην δεκάπολη. Ο Ντριτζ Ντο Έρντεν με την παρέα του προσπαθεί να πείσει τους ηγέτες των δέκα πόλεων να συνεργαστούν ώστε αποκρούσουν τις τρομερές δυνάμεις που συγκεντρώνονται απειλητικά εναντίον τους.
Όσοι πιστοί προσέλθετε, το βιβλίο τα σπάει.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,907 followers
October 2, 2022
Definitely a solid classic D&D novel. I have to admit I like it better, all told, than the chronologically earlier novels that dealt with Drizzt directly.

Why? Because the action is more epic, more expected in a grand, sweeping adventure, with war, paying off debts, preparation, demons, magic mind-altering crystals, and most importantly, THE FEEL.

Full disclosure, I played and loved the Icewind Dale games. I figured it was about time to go back and read the source material for them. :)

I am satisfied.

It isn't my favorite type of fantasy or even my top love of any fantasy, but it was enjoyable and it has the weight of prestige and lore behind it, so I'm happy even if I don't gush.

Onto more!
Profile Image for Eric.
865 reviews74 followers
July 2, 2013
This harks back to an earlier age of fantasy -- before "gritty," "grey" and "gory" became the norm -- where the heroes are larger than life, good and evil are clearly defined, and the fate of many hangs on a singular magical macguffin. Seen through this lens, this novel is a rousing success.

The setting, Icewind Dale, was surprisingly well developed, with ten towns surrounding multiple lakes, and clans of dwarves and barbarians living on the outskirts. Our heroic party contains Drizzt the dark elf ranger, Wulfgar the human barbarian, Bruenor the dwarven warrior, and Regis the halfing rogue -- a mix that reminds us that this is, at its heart, a Dungeons & Dragons product. The antagonist is Akkar Kessal, who wields the crystal shard of power, Crinshinibon.

That brings me to my biggest gripe about this book. R.A. Salvatore is an excellent storyteller, and D&D/Forgotten Realms are lucky to have him, but he is terrible at naming things. We can start with the magical crystal shard, Crinshinibon, which sounds like an angry Cinnabon. Or the drow elf, Drizzt Do'Urden, which has both double Zs and an apostrophe in it. Or Drizzt's homeworld, Menzoberranzan, which is fourteen letters long. I could go on, but I think my point is made.

I liked this well enough to begin the sequel, Streams of Silver, as soon as I finished this book. But your mileage will vary directly in accordance with your opinion of this classic style of high/heroic fantasy. This ain't no A Game of Thrones, after all.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,594 reviews237 followers
December 12, 2020
My first dive into the Forgotten Realms, written in 1988. Salvatore‘s first novel. You can tell that he must be a huge Tolkien fan. For example Regis (cough*Bilbo*cough) sounds awfully familiar with his short height and furry toes... And we get an elf and a dwarf engaging in funny banter.... right!

Spine of the World twanged my memory as well. I checked and the first Wheel of Time novel was published two years later. That book also very heavily copied elements of LOTR.

Ok, so we have a halfling, an elf and a dwarf. Now we need a wizard and a human with mysterious heritage and two more sidekicks to get the party going... Eventually we get a barbarian to fill the spot of the humans. Our bad guy is not quite Saruman, but a rather sad example of the evil wizard in thrall of a higher force.

A nice touch is the dark elf with his magical animal sidekick. He‘s the only original and somehwat interesting character in this tale.

The whole book had one female character and she did not show up often or have a lot of dialogue. Definitely not passing the Bechdel test. Granted, Tolkien didn‘t do better in that regard. However, roughly 35 years later Salvatore could have done so.

This is very underwhelming. A bit like average LOTR fanfic. Although Salvatore moves away from the LOTR plot a lot more quickly than for example the first book of WOT.

First book, right? Who knows, the following books might become more imaginative and suspenseful. I have a few of them, bought cheaply through Humble Bundle. I am not in a hurry to get to them, but will do so eventually, hoping that the writing will get better.

I skimmed through large parts of this book. What where my issues? Very predictable, therefore boring. It never felt as if the good guys (with shades of grey) where in any danger to not make it to the sequels. The bad guy was really stupid, the typical, cackling cardboard version of evilness. The characters were all pretty one-dimensional and unreflected. There was nothing new or inspiring in the story. If you want some shallow sword-and-sorcery without surprises for a chilled afternoon on the sofa, go for it. I was bored.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,206 followers
November 24, 2021
Meant to read this about 30 years ago. That is a looong time for a book to sit on a tbr shelf. Well, I'm glad I finally got around to reading this. It was a lot of fun. A good, solid adventure with dwarves, elves, giants, goblins, sorcerers, and what have you.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,827 reviews358 followers
October 13, 2016
I can see where this would have been an extremely popular book in its time. It does, however, very much show its status as first published book by this author and as a high fantasy published in the 1980s. It reminded me strongly of the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, which started off very dependent on The Lord of the Rings for races, imagery, and even some plot points, but which eventually moved off in its own direction. I think nowadays we could refer to works like these as LOTR fan fiction. LOTR was immensely influential and writers were trying to recreate the experience for eager readers, who were tired of re-reading Tolkien’s epic to get their fix.

To give credit to Salvatore, he moves things off in his own direction quite quickly. He may have halflings with furry feet (thankfully, he doesn’t call them hobbits), elves, dwarves, goblins and orcs, but they march to his drum and he doesn’t just copy Tolkien’s plot lines. The good people may have slight shadings of grey to their goodness, but the villains are definitely mustache-twirling, evil-laughing baddies, very typical of the time period. There is some battle detail, but certainly nothing resembling the nitty-gritty of the grim-dark fantasy that is currently popular. The reader can be quite confident that all the main characters will survive to have another adventure and that good will conquer in the end.

Salvatore adds some imaginative elements—for example, Drizzt, our Dark Elf main character, has a magical panther companion. Instead of a pastoral setting, all of his characters live on or right beside the tundra. The barbarian tribes make interesting enemies and eventually allies (frenemies perhaps?) for the settled humans. I was particularly amused by the knucklehead trout, the skulls of which were ideal for carving, rather like ivory in our world.

Also typical of the 1980s, female characters are scarce and barely have names, let alone roles to play in the action. But this is merely the first book, so there is room for development. The ending leads me to believe that the second book will be the more familiar quest tale.

Book number 229 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.
Profile Image for Harold Ogle.
309 reviews43 followers
August 2, 2013
After reading a chapter or two, I realized to my surprise that I have never actually read this first Salvatore novel before. It's a strange experience, because I know the story of Drizzt so well from other books and other media, to the point that it feels like I must have read this previously...but I definitely hadn't.

Back when TSR published this novel in 1988, it was trying to distance itself from a lot of the pre-existing gaming properties that it had published when Gary Gygax was running the company. The company had had good success with the Dragonlance series, and so it'd cast about, looking for other authors. It had to get rid of the "Gord the Rogue" series, and in general wanted to cut off all ties with the old Greyhawk campaign setting. The company chose Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms as the setting that would then become the default AD&D game setting, and The Crystal Shard was the first attempt to engage gamers in "the Realms" as fiction. Being disdainful of the change and contemptuous of the company's handling of Gary Gygax, I effectively boycotted most of this stuff, which I realize now is why I didn't read this when it was published. It's a shame, because (just like the Dragonlance books) I probably would have enjoyed this book a great deal more as a teenager.

The story is pretty good, but it is clearly an outline of an AD&D campaign, with the halfling thief (Regis), dwarven fighter (Bruenor), human barbarian (Wulfgar), and dark elven ranger (Drizzt) as archetypal player characters. Each character is given equal weight in the story, which feels strange in retrospect because Drizzt retroactively became the major protagonist in the repackaging of the book and its sequels (the copy I read labels this as "Legend of Drizzt volume four"). Drizzt is definitely not the main character in this book; the party of PCs is. The campaign is epic in scope, with the characters battling giants, employing large-force tactics on the battlefield, casting spells, using magic items, slaying a dragon, collecting loot, defeating a dark wizard, banishing a demon, countering an evil artifact, and winning a war. As far as I know, TSR did not create a series of modules to accompany this book (as they did with the Dragonlance books), and that's surprising, because this book reads like a gaming session, complete with goofy player dialogue in silly accents. Really, in the other books I never noticed Drizzt or his friends speaking in such stilted, pompous upper crust English. In this book, with all of his "I shan't hold you to that" dialog, I couldn't help but imagine Drizzt speaking in a prissy Jacob Rees-Mogg dialect, which was so funny it enhanced my enjoyment of what is really a decent plot presented with awful writing.

One passage actually elicited an involuntary guffaw from me. Sadly, it was unintended humor. I mean, the writing is bad, but I didn't actually expect to find a gem of a Bulwer-Lytton contest entry within its pages. Here it is (from page 278): "His concern touched Regis, as would a starving man crying out for food." You know, because the only thing that makes life bearable for a hobo who hasn't eaten in four days is the sweat of a halfling. Everybody knows this, just as halfling dander is a powerful narcotic. Regis has starving men touching him all the time; it's a natural hazard of being a halfling in a world of malnourished humans.

That's a stand-out in the bad writing contest, but the rest of the book isn't much better. The whole thing is written in a strangely remote passive voice that is completely narrative with no demonstrative elements at all. Put another way: the book tells us what the characters are doing, what they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they are going to do, without ever just showing us simply through their behavior. There is no subtext to any of the characters; thought, emotion, motivation...everything is presented to us as fact. It's so weird and so consistent that it feels intentional. The result is that the book feels like a story that comes from an oral tradition, so like a Norse saga, the poem of Beowulf, or a Homeric tale that it feels even weirder that it isn't in verse. There's little complexity and the narrative declares what each person is thinking and what they plan before they actually take action.

I'm convinced that this first novel was not planned as the beginning of an endless series of books about Drizzt. There's so much in this book, and a great deal of it includes the plots of several of the books that were written later (particularly the entire "Dark Elf Trilogy"); it's clear that Salvatore had no idea that he would write more after this, so he stuffed as much as possible into this one book. It's like George Lucas filming Star Wars: a New Hope as the one story he was going to tell in the middle of the longer series, and only after it did monster box office did he go back and start to plan to tell the rest of the stories.

The main reason that I'm glad I've read this now is that I finally have more of a connection to more of the characters in the Legend of Drizzt board game. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone older than 15, and even then only with a big caveat about it being Salvatore's first book.
Profile Image for Traci.
188 reviews80 followers
February 16, 2012
An elf, a dwarf, and a halfling walk into a bar...wait you've heard this one before?
Yeah, okay. There's nothing truly original here. Nothing we haven't encountered before. But I like it.

A little different than the usual "quest" style of fantasy this one concentrates on a group of settlers trying to save their home from an invading wizard who has been possessed by an ancient artifact.

If you've read Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn first you will notice a difference in style. The Crystal Shard was written first even though chronology it comes after. Homeland matches the later books more.

But if you have a problem with the characters, especially Drizzt, you might as well stop now. On a whole the writing does improve though.

It's hard consider this book in a bubble because I've read all the Drizzt books that are out. And I know that favorites are coming.

*Happy Dance* Artemis Entreri is coming *Happy Dance*
(ahem, a favorite character, or can you tell)

I recommend these books to fans of Dungeons and Dragons gameplay and books. Fans of traditional fantasy. To those who are just getting into fantasy. And for anyone who might want a light read.
Profile Image for Anna.
565 reviews101 followers
January 10, 2017
Φανατικοί του fantasy, που παίζετε φανατικά RPG Warhammer και strategy Diablo, αυτή η σειρά είναι για εσάς!!!

Μια καινούρια τριλογία ξεκινάει, όπου ο Ντριντζ έχει προσαρμοστεί στον υπέργειο κόσμο και, παρέα με την τρελή συντροφιά του, προσπαθεί να κατακτήσει το σύμπαν!!!

Μάγοι, πύργοι, σχέδια στρατηγικής, θα το διαβάσετε μονορούφι (αν πωρωθείτε, διαφορετικά ίσως καθυστερήσετε λίγο γιατί θα προτιμήστε να σκοτώνετε στο Diablo) και μετά να πάτε να παίξετε Heroquest!!!
Profile Image for Beatriz.
819 reviews694 followers
August 24, 2017
Aunque con un comienzo bastante lento, a los pocos capítulos alcanza la narrativa de las mejores obras del género fantástico. Personajes fascinantes, pertenecientes a diferentes “razas”, que se advierte quedarán en la memoria del lector por mucho tiempo. Una historia emocionante y emotiva, muy bien hilvanada, donde cada acción y personaje encuentra su momento adecuado. Muy bueno.
Profile Image for Pat the Book Goblin .
423 reviews125 followers
March 23, 2020
I’m glad to be back with Drizzt and his pals. This was a very fun tale filled with battles, evil wizards, giants, dwarves and a crazy demon. Can’t wait to start the next one!
Profile Image for Stuart.
13 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2012
I'm not a big fan of the novels. I read 'The Crystal Shard' a few years ago when a friend lent it to me (and now I think on it I need to return it). I believe it was R.A. Salvatore's first book and dear god I hope so, it was dreadful. It doesn't help that I loathe Forgotten Realms, viewing it as a rip-off of Greyhawk (where drow, duergar etc. originate from) and Lord of the Rings (meddling pipe smoking wizards anyone) with a smorgasboard of whatever else people were working on for TSR at the time. So I am a tough audience. You may wish to avert your eyes from spoilers....

The part that really sold me on the dreadfulness of the Crystal Shard was the start of a chapter that went something like, "Drizzt readied himself to attack the crystal fortress armed with his scimitars, magical panther and the flour he had stolen off the giants he had just slain and decided on a whim to take as a souvenir."

Can you guess which item Drizzt uses to save the day? Well it is the clearly telegraphed souvenir flour - used to cover a magical solar-powered crystal that receives its energy from the sun and weaken it. Now Drizzt isn't portrayed as a kleptomaniac who insists on stealing something from every fight, nor is he ever shown to be a baking enthusiast, so this smacks of very, very lazy writing. Especially when the drow can magically by will create magical darkness - though having Drizzt's racial abilities save the day is only marginally above John Barrowman's Captain Jack's immortality being the only thing that can stop a massive demon from destroying Cardiff in terms of sheer cringe factorness. But better than inexplicably stealing flour to use later.

Thankfully the graphic novel does not include the awful flour scene, which gives it bonus points in my book. I even had to reread the Crystal Shard in Waterstones to make sure I didn't imagine the flour incident.

Overall, average. If you like your heroes well-rounded, this is not for you. If you like them racking up impossible bodycounts this is for you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aristotle.
625 reviews64 followers
January 14, 2021
" A dark elf! Sorcerous dog!... a decrepit race!" -Wulfgar meeting Drizzt for the first time.

The beginning of Drizzt's journey
It's been over twenty years since i first read this the beginning of my journey with Drizzt and his companions. I've read every book in this series. Salvatore's writing does improve. This was lite fantasy. A group of vignettes disguised as a book. It was like reading a AD&D module. The book doesn't have the depth of his later books and the characters don't have the personality of Jarlaxle(my favorite), Zaknafein, or Artemis Entreri. To be honest Drizzt was never the most charismatic character. It was nice reminiscing. Add a star if you haven't started shaving.
Profile Image for daisy.
574 reviews100 followers
July 20, 2018
Definitely not my favourite so far; things felt a little too coincidental and almost silly at times. I'm hanging out for more appearances from Jarlaxle tbh.
Proper review to come later when I'm not tired AF.

Also: I love this world a lot, but the series reaaaaally needs some more well-rounded female characters. Catti-Brie has a few appearances, but the only other female characters are unnamed 'womenfolk' (who are treated like damsels in distress at best and 'seen but not heard' burdens at worst) and the mindless, tortured harem/slave girls the evil wizard keeps and routinely assaults in his tower. Not the best nor the most diverse range of female characters, but I'm hoping it gets better as the series progresses!
Profile Image for Jarek "the Mistborn" Dąbrowski.
200 reviews53 followers
February 20, 2018
After starting my adventure with Drizzt through the Dark elf Trilogy Iam back to the books that started it all. Icewind Dale. Although you can feel that this was Salvatores first book its still a great story and fun ride. It kinda feels like playing Baldurs Gate or Never Winter Nights:)
All the side characters are cool in their own way but I think i like Bruenor the most:)
These books are a great way to clear your head from the more "epic" stories out there.
I will continue to read this series for sure. 4 stars from me:)
Profile Image for Steven Ure.
Author 3 books596 followers
May 23, 2014
A paint-by-numbers, cliched and sexist fantasy crammed with adverbs.
Profile Image for Victor Hugo.
96 reviews
December 29, 2016
After several years I did return to the roleplaying games, especially, Dungeons & Dragons. One of my favorite campaign settings over there is Forgotten Realms, known because of its diversity and how it portraits the best of High Fantasy tropes (and, of course, its clichés). But of all Forgotten Realms, I've always liked Icewind Dale.

Icewind Dale has this name because of the unrelenting snow storms and the harsh life style at the faerûnian tundra. The Ten-Towns can be seen as the last bastion of human civilization in the end of the world, beyond the mountains of the Spine of the World and far from the luxurious and vivid cities of the south.

The Crystal Shard was the first time we get to know better Icewind Dale and its people, introducing a Dungeons & Dragons/Forgotten Realms adventure in a new way. The first time I read this book, I found it rather dull. In that time I found the characters hallow and superficial, with equally weak motivations. However, during my second reading of the series, I was able to have more fun leaving all those expectations aside.

The Crystal Shard is a simple, fast and plain reading, without great pretensions. Do not expect a great classic of the Fantasy genre, but rather a fun story that is able to entertain the reader for several hours, and maybe that was the author's goal when he wrote this classic in the 1980s.

We have the first appearance of Drizzt Do'Urden, Bruenor, Wulfgar, Regis and Cattie-Brie, characters well known in the world of roleplaying games. My impression is that the book has two main arcs, the first being the introduction of the characters, at a quite different pace than what happens in the second half of the book. Although loosely connected, the second part of the book presents an epic adventure to save the towns of Icewind Dale.

In this sense, I find problematic to read this book as a single story, because it is in the second part of the book that we have several elements of action that will unfold in the other books in the series. The way the author introduced the characters in the first half of the book might have been done differently.

However, The Crystal Shard entertained me a lot in the last few days, which was quite differently from the first time I read it, several years ago. If you're looking for a simple and fast reading Fantasy book, surely this is a good choice. I could clearly see that the narrative in this book is very similar to an RPG adventure, with its various heroes completing different missions (the adventures) for a larger purpose (the campaign).
Profile Image for Lauren.
115 reviews27 followers
June 11, 2011
It took me at least 100 pages to feel fully engaged with the story but the lengthy intro was truly necessary character and story development. Even with his brief introduction of Drizzt, Bruenor and Regis, Salvatore created tangible characters that colored the war tactics, battles, and subsequent survival (since "victory" is only in the eye of the beholder) with clear depth and breadth. He was true to their character throughout the entire story and it allowed for the events that took place to be highly likely and credible in both a fantasy and/or reality of war and survival. I particularly liked how each part contained a forward of Drizzt's thoughts. He's clearly a very keen strategist and I enjoyed hearing his train of thought at he pondered current events.

With the interplay of these three characters, my favorite introduction was Wulfgar. When they first introduced him as an intelligent and clearly unique barbarian, I secretly hoped that he wouldn't be slain but instead would become an integral part of the story. I was definitely rewarded! Wulfgar's "education" in patience, hard work, and loyalty under the initial tutelege of Bruenor and finally in combat, cognizance, and tactical leadership under Drizzt were all it took for me to trust and invest in his character. I definitely rooted for him as he set out on his journey to the dragon's lair and then to his former King. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more tales of his adventures.
Profile Image for Ralph Pulner.
55 reviews20 followers
June 10, 2017
Very much a solid 4 but upgraded for the impact it had on how I read, play and search out fantasy to this day. I've never read past Sojourn amazingly. I'm hoping to change that at some point.

-I'm certain this was my first FR book as a teenager and solidified a lifelong pact with all things Realms.

-Though I couldn't recall specific plot before my readthrough I could name every character. First, last and nicknames...I'm horrible with names.

-RA Salvatore's first novel.

-Drizzt has spawned over 30 books in the series and sold over 10,000,000 copies worldwide.

-Early on in planning the setting was intended to take place on Douglas Niles Moonshae, so the final product retains a few parallels and a nice nod to his books.

-Wulfgar was supposed to be the primary protagonist.

-RA Salvatore was told one of his characters in his early draft was unusable. His agent was on her way to a meeting and needed a replacement. He came up with the name and race of Drizzt on the spot.

-RA Salvatore regrets not giving Catti Brie more of a voice in Crystal Shard. The importance of strong female heroines became apparent later on in his career.
Profile Image for Raechel.
435 reviews23 followers
November 23, 2020
Did I go into this book thinking I would enjoy it? Absolutely not. I had always heard the Drizzt books were lame and for 13 year old boys who want to be a cool emo sadboi drow. I thought I was going to roll my eyes a lot and read the equivalent of Baby's First D&D Adventure: Angst Edition.

I... really like Drizzt. He's a cool character with an interesting backstory and he has a really good heart. It's adorable that he loves his cat and wears a unicorn amulet. He has a good attitude and is an interesting combination of noble and sneaky, humble and cocky.

The story is very basic, but there are a lot of seeds for great future adventures that I'm excited to read. The pacing is a bit fast, but that kept me from getting bored at any point in the book. My biggest complaint is that of all the characters in this book... only one woman gets so much as a name, and she's regulated to "love interest." Any other women in this off-handedly mentioned as either submissive barbarian woman, fearful fishwives, or mindless harm girls. I understand this was "a different time" for pulpy fantasy and I really hope it gets rectified in future novels, as I plan to continue the series.
Profile Image for Dawn.
326 reviews102 followers
April 18, 2013
This was not at all what I expected, and for that reason alone I could almost give it four stars. I always thought that I couldn't possibly enjoy this book as an adult. Based on the things I had heard about it (D&D origins and all) I was afraid that I had missed my window where I could enjoy it (somewhere in my late teen years I assumed). Apparently I hadn't missed that window though, this actually turned out to be a fun read. It maybe wasn't the best fantasy I've ever read but it was far from the worst, it had a good story line and interesting characters, it was written pretty well (better than I had expected) and was well paced. So yeah, good times. I learned something when I read this book. I'm full of it and need to stop being a fantasy snob, there's fun stuff out there that I'm probably missing because I assume I've matured beyond it. The more you know...
December 22, 2012
"The Crystal Shard" is R.A. Salvatore's 1st major published novel, and he made sure to include all the classic fantasy elements in this epic tale. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the book's one major flaw, since the overall story just seems so generic. Let's see, we have an evil artifact that possesses the mind of its owner, a dwarf and an elf who banter and keep score while they fight common enemies, and even a hobbit halfling who joins in the quest. Gee, does any of this sound familiar?!? Still, while it isn't the most original plot (or even the 100th most original plot), "The Crystal Shard" still manages to be a must-read for any fantasy fan!

One thing I enjoyed most about this book was R.A. Salvatore's incredibly beautiful descriptions of everything. I've praised Salvatore in the past for his inimitable ability to portray fight sequences in great detail. In this book, he also takes time to describe the lush environments and the intricate architecture in such rich detail, I truly felt like I was there watching everything unfold! Another great thing about this book was the cast. Pretty much every major character is worth reading about, and each has their own distinct personality. Bruenor the dwarf is gruff but noble. Regis the halfling is craven yet crafty. But the one who really steals the show is dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden! It's no mystery why Drizzt was the breakout star of the Icewind Dale trilogy, since he is so roguishly charming in this book, you absolutely want to read about more of his exploits! The book moves at a very fast pace as well, thanks to tons of action and drama throughout.

The book isn't a perfect read, however, I did have some minor quibbles throughout. For one thing, Salvatore's tendency to generalize the evil wizard's army grew tiresome (we're constantly reminded that goblins are cowardly by nature, that orcs are all brutes, etc...). And I was annoyed by the appalling lack of strong women in this story! The only female character (unless you count Drizzt's panther) who gets any screen time at all is Bruenor's adopted daughter, Cattie-Brie, and she only appears for a very short while. Still while the book did lack in some areas, the captivating characters and exciting action made this a grand adventure to read! Highly recommended :)
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