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The Orc King , by R. A. Salvatore
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 1/25/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10

The Orc King , by R. A. Salvatore

Book Review by Howard von Darkmoor

Have you read this book?

I am pleased to announce Salvatore has returned to form. Well, mostly. Outside the now-no-longer-expected-to-be-of-much-value-and-actually-becoming-quite-dreary-to-read diary entries/journaling/monologues of Drizzt beginning each new part. Outside those, this is a terrific renewal of the story of the world's most famous drow . . . and if you aren't quite sure what that is, then you best stop reading here and start reading Homeland, the (true) opening book of Salvatore's greatest character's series.

After a deplorable mid-book in The Sellswords Trilogy, I was concerned Salvatore had succumbed to the lure of the fast buck. Yet he returned with somewhat of a vengeance and ended that series on a higher note. He's begun "Traditions" (his latest series) with a bang. Literally.

A rather stunning opening scene in The Orc King has Drizzt attacking and maiming . . . dwarves and an elf and a human. It takes but a moment to notice he is not killing them though - even when sorely pressed by those not hesitating in their attempts to kill him. Yet once the explanation for this behavior is provided through other's dialogue and Drizzt's familiarly-pensive-though-admittedly-less-whiny-than-has-been-the-new-norm monologue (sense a trend here?), it is less believable than it could have been. Analytically, the reasons proffered are plausible; improbable if looked at in any other manner. At the very least, this leads one further simply to satisfy curiosity's sake alone. At the most, it prompts one on determine once and for all if Salvatore has officially sold out. I can assure you he has not.

The story is an exploration of dreams and self; a determination of what matters, where one sees oneself. Familiar faces resurface, old pains and heartaches are rediscovered, allegiances and honor are reevaluated. Wulfgar seeks a return to the simple barbaric life where he feels he truly belongs - free, as he says, of political correctness and intrigue; Catti-brie needs to find herself, see herself as a woman - a human woman; Bruenor looks for change in past glories - not for himself per se, but to ever find them, bring them back as he himself was twice 'brought back by Moradin' (from Icewind Dale and from death itself); Regis dreams of no longer having to do what he believes friends must do - yet he won't think twice about doing otherwise. Drizzt? Drizzt is seeking balance, just as he has been for awhile now - and not truly seeing it. Despite what he learns throughout this tale, either. Yet he forges on, keeps on keeping on, as the saying goes.

There are a few moments of note in the tale: one of blatant favoritism (where an obviously author-favorite character does NOT suffer the doom-and-gloom heavily advertised before a certain event - in fact, what damage does ocur is minimal and immediately forgotten despite the enormous ramifications it should/could have had, remaining conveniently absent from the rest of the story) and one of awesome description (the fight between two gargantuan characters on pages 322-336 is one helluva fight! Definitely one of the best ever described in writing and one I sure would have liked to see - but from a long ways away!).

This is a book of searching, and because that is its theme it is easy to get caught up in the searches, the peering and prying and poking and prodding and pondering . . . leading one to not anticipate what is found by story's end. It is a melancholy ending, as one forgets the hints presented in the prologue - until just short of forcibly being reminded of them in the very brief but equally - No! More - stunning epilogue. I look forward to returning to this series late in 2008, if for no other reason than to read Salvatore's terrific fight scenes, but in actuality for much more than that. Words from the text itself (ironically, from Drizzt's comments at the onset of Part 3) sum up the real reason though:

"Our lives take on a routine, and then we bemoan that routine. Predictability, it seems, is a double-edged blade of comfort and boredom. We long for it, we build it, and when we find it, we reject it. Because while change is not always growth, growth is always rooted in change. A finished person, like a finished house, is a static thing. Pleasant, perhaps, or beautifual or admirable, but not for long exciting."

If nothing else, Salvatore's writing is exactly that: exciting.

I would have given this book 8 out of 10 stars if it were not for a few snafus and the mostly no longer entertaining monologues. I know they've become a staple of the series, but, really, Bob, isn't there another way to incorporate all that information in the stories? Instead, I'll have to settle for a 7.
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Comments on The Orc King , by R. A. Salvatore
Posted by Olivia on 2/25/2008
I really was not wowed by this book. I'ev read all of the others and this one just kind of just didnt have what I wanted. After waiting for soooooooo long for Drizzt and Cattie to get together I was hopping this book would get more into the relationship, but they hardley had any scenes togetther. Then one of my favorite characters dies, which I think was because to many people wanted her with Drizzt. I was happy that Wulfgar is finaliy gone. The rest was great. But I really wish He had gone more into the relation ship, Because I don't think they'll have a kid and I keep feeling like this was Cattie's last book.