Monday, October 6, 2014

Rise of the King: Companions Codex II (Book)

In a fantasy world that slightly mirrors our own author R.A.Salvatore continues his tale of the dark elf named 'Drizzt Do'Urden', and those who aim to make, or break the world around him. The times, and setting of this follow-up tale continue to be darkly lit, and foreboding leaving the reader anxious to see what each page entails. The pages themselves are filled with the epic battle mongering of orcs, dwarves, and elves who are each engaged in a territorial war akin to J.R.R.Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". Within it's pages kings are betrayed, and killed as the orc's new alliances make way for the promise of a new bloody age for orc-kind. In the not so distant background of the ongoing conflict Drizzt, and his newly found troupe of followers also find themselves drawn into the fray as they look desperately for lost comrades. Their unlikely band of wartime heroes which is comprised of an elf, a halfling, a barbarian, and a dwarf come to know true danger at the hands of their many enemies, and even from Drizzt himself.

Among the 355 pages of richly written text you will find not only the episodic tales of heroics, and valor, but also a flood of oddly named protagonists, and antagonists who are each fully fleshed out in their own way. Their shared dialogue which comes in a wide assortment of creatively accented dialects breathes life into the characters making each member of each race unique, and more human, in a manner of speaking. Nicknames, and interesting personalities ring out amidst the cries of war, and the loss of lives. At the heart of it all you will find major roleplayers in the form of drow, dwarves, and orc warlords who aim to turn the tide in their favor, and bring to light a new world of their own. Tos'un Armgo, and Tiago Baenre, whom are but a couple of the drow I speak of do their bidding in secret as they draw unsuspecting parties into a war that is anything but what it seems. Having left his wife Sinnafein wounded, and in the middle of an orcish threat within the Moonwood forests Tos'un takes his daughter Doum'weille along for the ride as they do the bidding of a spirit tied to an ancient sword. He looks for riches, and a glorious future amongst the war torn lands, but whether, or not that happy ending is in order him, and his kin is yet to be seen.

On the flipside of the worldly conflict the dwarf king Breunor Battlehammer plots revenge against the bloodline of the orcs of Many-Arrows as they continue to lay siege to the kingdoms of the Silver Marshes, and Mithral Hall. Being swayed by their battle filled bloodlust the king led dwarves head into the escalating conflict as a brazen army willing to brave the odds against formidable foes such as that of their long time enemies the frost giants, and dragons of the wyrm type. As with the dwarves of Tolkien's famous novels the dwarves of R.A.Salvatore's world also carry with them a battle hardened spirit accented by friendly fellowship. Behind the scenes they are faithful in a merry sort of way, and in war they are a force to be reckoned with. Armored to the teeth, and experienced in the ways of war dwarvish Gutbusters led by their respective leader, and Wilddwarves led by King Bromm gladly do as they are told, sometimes sacrificing themselves for the cause.

In the way of elvish heroes, and heroines you'll not only find Drizzt commanding the attention of the reader with his battlefield beliefs, and fighting prowess, but that Sinnafein, and others also play their significant roles in the goings on of the author's forgotten realm. Drizzt, for example meets up with a drow warlock friend named 'Effron' whom he thought he lost to an untimely death. It's this meeting that spark memories of his Drizzt's old team, and cause conflicts of interests with his newer company. On the other side of things lady Sennafein, the leader of her own elvish tribe tries her hardest to stay alive while the orcs led by Warlord Hartusk attempt to take over the lands in one fell swoop.

In an inevitable meeting up, and clash of clans the dwarves, elves, orcs, and other species of the 'Companions of the Hall' collide in an all out decisive war that will leave many dead, and others scrambling for the seat of power. As far as who comes out on top goes, you will have to find that out on your own. Just know that this particular Forgotten Realms D&D novel is a second part of an ongoing series, and that it's always best to start from the beginning lest ye be lost in the sea of Tolkien-esque names. The book I have reviewed comes in both a hardcover format with a $27.95 price tag, and a digital download for iOS devices at a fraction of the price. While the book will set you back a pretty penny at retail cost you might find it for less depending on where you shop. Having gotten a hardcover copy for review I can tell you without hesitation that it would be my prime pick if I were going to buy it. I never was one to read a book in digital format, but I can understand one doing so if they are living on a strict budget though.

As far as a recommendation goes this book, in it's hardcover form gets my seal of approval. I only wish I had read the series from the beginning as I kind of felt lost in the midst of it all. The beginning in particular was tossing out characters' names as if I'd known them all my life, which was far from the truth. Beyond that sea of names though I did find myself enjoying the plot, and understanding most of it. From that understanding, as slight as it may have been, I actually began to admire the author's storytelling capabilities, and enjoying the excitement filled read for what it was. If you too are interested in this Forgotten Realms D&D tale I strongly urge you to start from the beginning as you will enjoy it much better that way. It is definitely a series worth reading, and one that is not unlike the works of Tolkien.

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