The Halfling’s Gem by R. A. Salvatore
|Book Name:||The Halfling’s Gem|
|Author:||R. A. Salvatore|
|Publisher(s):||Wizards of the Coast|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / eBook|
|Release Date:||January 1, 1990|
So here we come, my friends, to the end of our journey through Icewind Dale and the Forgotten Realms. It’s been a fun ride for some, a bland ride for others, and the rest are probably still scratching their heads and wondering if R. A. Salvatore’s first series is worth the effort. You may be wondering why I’m not opening with a long poem, but there was none present in my copy, which was a bit perplexing. But we’re not here for poems and parodies, we’re here to delve into the final Icewind Dale novel: The Halfling’s Gem.
The Halfing’s Gem takes place almost immediately after the events in Steams of Silver: Bruenor is lost to the depths of the Mithral Hall, Regis has been kidnapped by Artemis, and Drizzt and Wulfgar are hot on the trail of the Halfling and his captors. It is in this volume that Drizzt earns his second famous sword: Twinkle, and a mysterious mask that allows him to change his appearance to that of a regular elf. Imagine if in Majora’s Mask, Link could use his shape-shifting possessed masks without undergoing a painful transformation that likely left a massive scar on his psyche. This mask and Drizzt’s use of it calls into question just how desperate he is to be accepted by the surface society as a whole, as he is willing to dismiss everything that makes him great in the eyes of his friends in order to be accepted by total strangers who would on any other day seek his blood just for being a dark-skinned elf. In this respect, I suppose that we were experiencing a character arc for Drizzt where he comes to accept himself for who he really is and how his appearance really does not matter as much as his actions. Then again, we’ve had this hammered into us time and again throughout the novels, so by this point it feels like we’re beaten over the head with the dead horse that’s already been brutalized so badly.
In this installment, we journey out of Icewind Dale and to the cosmopolitan of Calimport, which is the merchant city that Regis had originally apprenticed in under a certain master thief, who now wants nothing more than to torture the Halfling whilst deciding how best to kill him. This lends itself to some of the saddest scenes in the entire trilogy, as Regis is forced to endure these hardships without his friends and in the end is left with both physical and emotional scars. Artemis returns to his master and employer to discover that Pasha Pook – I’m sorry I can’t get over that ridiculous name – has hired a retainer of wererats under the command of the slimy Rassiter.
We see the return of some old friends who help the various heroes when they are separated, and even a new ally in the shape of Captain Deudermont – captain of the Sea Sprite and an individual who has a reoccurring role in the Drizzt novels after this. Established relationships are expanded, and even a brand-new relationship begins to bud, which threatens to cause one of those dreaded love-triangles. But the ultimate question is if the heroes will not only return in time to save Regis and the captured Guenhwyvar, but if they can ever return to recapture the Mithral Hall from the gray dwarves who occupy it. Will any of them live to see that day?
From a plot perspective, this is perhaps the most original in the entire Icewind Dale Trilogy, but if you’re looking for something more than a classic rescue tale with lots of daring action, then you may not get much out of this one. I must also warn that the edition I had contained some glaring grammatical and spelling errors, which were even more noticeable and so frequent in The Halfling’s Gem that I felt this is the point that I should mention them.
The dialogue is strong as before, and for once we get to see Wulfgar make observations to Drizzt instead of the other way around as it’s been for two novels. We even get to see Catti-brie do more than serve as window dressing in this piece, which made me very happy to see.
If there’s any true reward to this novel, it’s the final climactic confrontation with Pasha and the dangerous weapon at his disposal – one that casts the heroes into a realm that threatens to drive them mad with despair just before they die. It feels very much like the sort of confrontation a DM would throw at his party, testing not only the limit of their skills but also their sanity and ability to survive. What degrades this is the ending right after, which feels overtly rushed if only because otherwise it would have taken a whole other book to describe.
Overall, The Halfling’s Gem is a satisfying conclusion to our first journey with Drizzt Do’Urden, and it was enough of a read for me to be interested in seeing more of him. However, this is one of those books where if you didn’t like or read the first two, you probably won’t feel your opinion change with this one.
Heroes: Drizzt and company return for another glorious adventure! However, I can’t help but feel that we go a bit backwards with Drizzt in this one. – 3/5
Villains: It’s great to see Artemis return, and while he is a clear threat, I can’t get over the name “Pasha Pook.” – 4/5
Narrative: We get to see a few more perspectives this time around, and to me that helps gives us a sense of where the characters are. – 4/5
Plot: A rescue mission! I have a weakness for these. – 4/5
Magic: Magic plays a much more prominent role in this one. – 5/5
World: It’s a treat to see more of the Forgotten Realms than the frozen north – 5/5
I hope you all enjoyed my reviews of the Icewind Dale trilogy. Join me next time when I review the first book in another beloved fantasy series, one that I’m surprised no one else has tackled as of yet.