A third of the way through this novel I knew what I was going to write for this review, and that saddened me. I have fond memories of reading classic TSR novels Azure Bonds, Pool of Radiance, and others whose names I have forgotten. This was from 1988 to 1990, and I was only fifteen years old. I recall those books being the epitome of high fantasy, and very grim and visceral, but now that I have plowed my way through Gauntlgrym I have to question those memories. Due to my now years-long attempt to fill my brain with “high literature” it was difficult to see Salvatore’s writing as anything more than schlock. And I don’t say that to denigrate his work. After all, the success of his bibliography speaks volumes. But I can tell that his prose is for a specific audience, and that is an audience that I am no longer a part of.
I bought this book at a thrift store five years ago for five dollars. It was, and still is, a mint condition hardcover. I started reading it back then, lost interest immediately, and put it on the bookshelf where it remained until I decided to throw it into the rotation at the end of July last year. It spent a lot of time at the bottom of the stack of more pressing reads before I finally made it a post-gym priority about a month ago, reading a chapter a day before my morning nap. I’m glad I got my five dollars worth, but if I could go back and simply not buy the book at all I think I’d be a richer man today.
Despite being book one of four in the Neverwinter Saga, it closes on a note that doesn’t beg the reader to continue to the other entries. I must be careful about selecting books that are the beginning of larger series, because the completionist in me always feels burdened with the responsibility of finishing what I start. I think the Neverwinter Saga is letting me get away gently, and for that I’m thankful.
I may have to go back and read Azure Bonds to see if my memory is faulty or not. Or perhaps it would be best to let it lie and pretend that those books really were as bloody and breathtaking as they were.
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