The Barnes & Noble Review
The Silent Blade is the latest from R. A. Salvatore, the New York Times bestselling author of The Demon Awakens and The Legacy. With The Silent Blade, Salvatore returns to the Forgotten Realms series and again presents a high-fantasy extravaganza of epic challenge and personal struggle, as well as a detailed chronicle of mythical quests, dangers, and escapades of all sorts. Fans of Forgotten Realms will be gratified by the return of such popular characters as Drizzt the dark elf, the presumed-dead warrior Wulfgar, and the assassin Artemis Entreri. The Silent Blade is full of finely wrought story threads and detailed characterization that twine together to form a powerful, absorbing plot involving strife, fellowship, and the will to overcome adversity while keeping one's soul intact.
After six years of torture at the claws of the demon Errtu, Wulfgar has finally been freed by his loyal band of comrades. Still emotionally scarred by his time in the depths of the Abyss, Wulfgar is now apathetic to the world at large, and is especially uncaring where his former love Canni-brie and comrade Drizzt are concerned. He even callously turns his back on a fellow tribesman when asked to lead his people. Worst of all, when battling mountain giants and watching his companions fight for their lives, the barbarian momentarily freezes, unable to think of anything except the torment he suffered in the Abyss.
In order to destroy the power of Errtu's evil artifact Crenshinibon, a lengthy journey is undertaken to the far southwestern lands, one thatbeginsto take on new meaning for the fellowship. This is not merely an excursion to right wrongs but an exploration in which each participant learns more about himself and each other perhaps more than they ever wished to know. The quest grows ever more perilous as Drizzt and Canni-brie attempt to repress their mutual feelings, which deepened during Wulfgar's absence, and as Wulfgar himself becomes even more mentally unhinged.
Meanwhile, the assassin Artemis Entreri finds himself back in the city of Calimport for reasons he does not fully understand. He undergoes a number of revelations when dealing with his former band of rogues and street thieves (including LaValle, Dondon, and Hand) and realizes he is unable to escape his past and is unsure if he even wants to. Once a guildmaster, and still known among the population as the greatest assassin to have ever lived, Artemis Entreri becomes disgusted by those he once dealt with as he unconsciously becomes more and more inspired by his foe Drizzt.
Although there are sections written in the first-person voice of Drizzt, Drizzt is not the main focus of The Silent Blade, as he was in previous Forgotten Realms tales. Salvatore flawlessly balances the action between friends and foes alike; the author's ability to detail personal crises adds a depth to his work that isn't often found in sword-and-sorcery fiction. Salvatore is a craftsman, capturing several character traits at once, both good and bad, and exposing secrets of the soul that will ultimately affect the fates of all involved, and perhaps even that of the world.
One of Salvatore's most reliable techniques and greatest narrative strengths is that he rarely allows any character to be the epitome of valor or evil. Each member of the cast, including Artemis Entreri, spends a good deal of time reflecting upon his past deeds, searching his feelings, and discovering regrets, doubts, and pride.
The author does a splendid job of inviting us not only into a land where magic reigns but also into the depths of the personalities who populate the tale, each of whom is capable of being both more kind and more cruel than they may have previously believed. Here the reader will discover a world much like our own, where the brutal realities of life impose themselves daily, yet possibilities always loom large. The Silent Blade offers us a chance to see the magnitude of magnificent, mythical adventures and perils, and entices us along at a brisk and exciting pace.
Tom Piccirilli, barnesandnoble.com
Tom Piccirilli,is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including Hot Blood: Fear the Fever.