Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (August 6, 2013)
Length: 384 pages
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
How far would you go to help a friend?
That is the choice placed before Cattie-brie, Bruenor, Regis, and Wulfgar as they encounter each another after death. Mielikki, the Forest Queen and goddess of autumn, has chosen them for a special task if they choose to accept it. You see the Sundering is upon the world of Toril: a time when its connection to the world of Abeir will be severed. The aftermath of this separation will be a time of tumult and despair as both the mortal and godly worlds must realign themselves, and each god will seek out his mortal champions to bestride the world during this time. Mielikki has chosen Drizzt. However, the mighty warrior is alone, bereft of his greatest strength: true friends to stand by his side when his darkest path lies before him. And that is why the Companions of the Hall have been kept from their eternal rest by Mielikki.
The Forest Queen offers to reincarnate each of Drizzt’s closest friends, and rebirth them in a newborn babe with all their memories still intact. All that is asked of them in return is that they aid Drizzt in his time of greatest need. But in order to live this second life, Cattie-brie, Bruenor, Regis, and Wulfgar are stepping away from their rightful rest in paradise with their family and other friends. No small sacrifice when you have led a long life with wives and children and grandchildren like Wulfgar or a long and glorious life such as Bruenor.
What should they choose? Paradise with loved ones or a return to the toils of the world? It is a weighty decision, especially since Drizzt was their boon companion and the bonds of loyalty and love binds them together even after death itself.
Since the book is called The Companions, naturally the bonds of friendship prove too strong to ignore for the Companions of the Hall. The story R.A. Salvatore weaves for us thereafter is an exciting one as each friend is reborn and lives a completely different life with new loved ones, choices, and a changed view of their place in the world. Each tale is different, mesmerizing in its view of these companions having to endure growing up a second time yet knowing their real identity and their task to meet on Bruenor’s Climb on Kelvin’s Cairn in Icewind Dale twenty-one years after their rebirth. And at the end there is even a little surprise awaiting you. A welcome surprise I might add. One that ends the book exactly as you would want it to.
If there is any complaint I have with the novel, it is simply that while the ending is sweet – evoking all the emotions of friends come together again after a long parting – it lacks that final resolution to Drizzt’s plot. All the ominous warnings and poetic prophecies regarding his plight are not resolved. The great danger to Drizzt not really made clear in this book. (Perhaps they have been previously dealt with in one of his other tales, but since I have not read those, I felt left out in the cold here.)
With that criticism aside however, this was a very good fantasy novel. R.A. Salvatore did an excellent job of making reincarnation an interesting read, actually showing these long-standing characters having to change and grow in different ways as they live different lives. This progression of the Companions of the Hall through their new lives felt real, not forced at all, and in my opinion breathed new life into these characters, because they are the old fan favorites but now they are so much more and are much more interesting to boot.
Give this one and try. It is a fine fantasy read.
Netgalley provided this book to me for free in return for an honest review. The review above was not paid for or influenced in any way by any person, entity or organization, but is my own personal opinions of The Companions by R.A. Salvatore. And please understand, if I had hated the book I would have said so!
CHECK OUT MY REVIEWS OF THE SUNDERING SERIES
THE GODBORN (THE SUNDERING #2)
THE ADVERSARY (THE SUNDERING #3)
THE REAVER (THE SUNDERING #4)
THE SENTINEL (THE SUNDERING #5)
THE HERALD (THE SUNDERING #6)