The words below will likely fall into the realm of unpopular opinion. Be that as it may, they are an opinion. My opinion is my own, just as yours belongs to you, and I don’t dispute that there are people who love these books and this character. I simply do not think this series of books is for me. That being said… on to the review.
A lot of years ago I read a bunch of R.A. Salvatore books because I love fantasy, and it seemed like the thing to do. They were okay, and I remember enjoying them well enough, though I also recall thinking they weren’t “spectacular,” just sort of average. I read books with Drizzt Do’Urden in them, but I never got around to reading any of The Dark Elf Trilogy. Recently I thought to pick up Homeland and see what I’d been missing, because obviously I was missing something since everyone and their mom seems to love this character and his many, many books.
For starters, this was a relatively short book, and yet it took me about a week and a half to muddle through it because try as I might I just could not get into the story.
Drow society more or less devours and destroys itself, backstabbing, murdering, lying, and cheating their way to the top of the hierarchy. Sounds exciting, and in some instances it sort of is. You have a massive collection of powerful dark elves run completely by the matriarchy–super empowering for women, right? Yeahhhh…. not so much.
The houses of Menzoberranzan thrive based on their favor with Lolth, the Spider Queen, which means if you fall out of favor, you’re pretty much screwed unless you can convince (with generous sacrifices,) you’re worthwhile. The matriarchy holds all seats of power, including the coveted priestess position, and the men of the Underdark are considered idiot fools good for little more than fighting, breeding, and playing the role of sacrifice. So many of the female motivations within the society, and the story itself, felt petty. It’s how the society is–petty, underhanded, backstabby, cruel–and I get that, but I kept asking myself while I was reading how it could be made better. How they could still be powerful, evil even, without seeming so ridiculously narrow-minded, self-defeatist, and trite. Why must powerful women in positions of dominance be… awful? There was absolutely nothing redeeming about any of the female characters at all, and for me that’s often a deal breaker with books. Give them something, even a reason for their utter hideousness, and I can be a little more forgiving, but as it was there was no established reason for their evil. They were just… evil. Meh.
I do give the book a little slack, considering it was published over 26 years ago, and a lot has changed even in this last 26 years, but still… It was disappointing for me, to say the least.
The character of Drizzt Do’Urden felt a little lackluster. He was the proverbial diamond shining in the darkness, the incorruptible slice of light that refused to give into the blackness of his inborn nature. That is a great lesson if you dig deep: No matter what you face in life, it’s up to you to stick to your guns and stand against the darkness that would devour you. I took that away from the story, so it wasn’t all negative.
On the other hand, the writing wasn’t as polished as I expected it to be. More than once I found myself skimming back over a sentence and trying to make sense of the word order, looking for a pause that was absent, and wondering how the problematic nature of a few of these issues allowed the story to thrive as it has for more than two and a half decades. I guess it doesn’t matter, because for some people Drizzt is/was a necessary character to help them through whatever darkness they faced, and I respect that, but for me personally I just didn’t get it. To each his/her own.
Overall, I gave the book 2.5 stars and will likely not continue the trilogy unless I find myself stranded in a library during an apocalyptic event and I’ve run out of other books to read.