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Monday, July 31, 2023

Review: The Spine of the World by R.A. Salvatore

 The Spine of the World was released in 1999 and falls as number twelve in the ongoing Legend of Drizzt. Though it is part of the super series the main character is Wulfgar. In fact, Drizzt only appears in the narrative entries that separate the different sections of the novel. This is a sequel to The Silent Blade, as this starts with Wulfgar being a bouncer in Luskan just as he was in the previous novel.

I read this one in December 2022, right after finishing the Threat from the Sea trilogy.

The prologue shows Wulfgar at the docks with Morik, a recent friend set to watch over the barbarian by Jarlaxle. They are drinking and playing and are confronted by would-be-muggers. This interaction shows us the depressed and destitute state of Wulfgar. His lack of care may be costing The Cutlass, the tavern he works at, more money than he is now worth. 

Chapter 1 then shows the Sea Sprite, Captain Deudermonts ship, making its way into Luskan for repairs after an engagement with two pirate vessels.

Ch 2 shows us the Auck family of the village of Auckney to the Northwest of Luskan. The map at the front of the book is actually for the fiefdom of Auckney. This map puts Fireshear to the northwest when the text says it is to the south. 

The interludes are still from Drizzt and about his morals: he doesn’t like drugs for example and doesn’t think you should have sex with someone you don’t love but won’t judge if you do. 

The fighting is overdone, as always. 

The characters, especially just about all of them in Auckney are dislikable for the bad things they do, buuuuut, if you read this as Salvatore’s look at the plight of the poor, it kind of reads like Glenn Cook’s Shadows Linger. I think the expectations are wrong, and his characterization is not up to par; but it’s not terrible, though this novel is generally hated by Drizzt fans. 

Wulfgar is a thug, and a wretch; generally, what the Companions of the Hall fight. 

Does it end in tragedy? No, this is a redemption story that is actually done okay. I got quite emotional at the end even. Very unexpected. Almost Arthurian in some respects. 

Merelda is a tragic character, one the reader should pity. Jaka is my least favorite type of person in the world, the worst of toxic teenage boys. 

Most fans don’t like this novel, and since I’m not a huge fan of this series I thought maybe I would end up liking it. But no, it’s not that good. As is typical of Salvatore, I found it mediocre at best and maybe okay for tween boys.


You can track my current progress here.

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