The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

The Companions by R.A. SalvatoreWhen I got offered this title for review through NetGalley, I was intrigued mostly because my son has been recommending this author and the Forgotten Realms novels for a while. I can see what drew my son to R.A. Salvatore. He’s a very talented author.

The Companions is an interesting book for a variety of reasons, especially coming into it new to the characters. If you’re coming into the book as I did, the first couple chapters might be a bit of a struggle focusing as they do on characters we don’t really know yet but in such a way as though we do–too little information to inform but just enough to remind. They are for those who are already know this group and want to reconnect with them. For the rest of us, those chapters do little to prepare for the complicated, fascinating narrative to follow.

The title tells exactly what this novel is about. The group who were Drizzt’s favored companions are offered the chance (in the very beginning) to return to mortal life after their respective deaths some time ago. Their assistance may be critical in helping Drizzt defeat his greatest foe. Though this occurs in the book itself, it’s more like the premise for the story to come. The Companions follows each of those who take the offer from Catti-brie’s goddess, Mielikki, to be reborn, and this is meant literally for they must each be placed in a newborn infant, fully aware but with the physical abilities of their current forms.

That’s what makes this book fascinating. It manages to tell their separate journeys from moment of birth, or rebirth, though with some skipping over the uneventful years. The companions are fully aware of who they were, but they have some ability to drive who they will grow into in this lifespan. They make new bonds and feel the weight of choices from their first lifetime. Concerns of faith, purpose, and determination abound. The novel is a play on the question of how would you live your life if you had it to live all over again knowing what you know now. They have only a vague understanding of what is to come, but they know their weaknesses and strengths in their first life so can choose to dwell/lean on those, or to make the changes necessary to become something more.

In some ways this book could be seen as backstory for the coming event, the sundering. The convergence of their lives occurs for one purpose only in the chance to help Drizzt. But that would be missing the value of The Companions all together. Because of the conflicts of old and new, the awareness of both lifetimes, each of these characters is explored in a depth not commonly available in most novels.

A lot of the story is internal, growth coming in the choices made and reflection upon them, but don’t let that make you think the story lacks conflict and external events. I’m keeping the names of the companions close to my chest for a reason you’ll understand once you start reading, but there are attacks by mages, orcs, street gangs, and others. There are great journeys and adventures as well. The companions do not find their path to be either easy or straight. Catti-brie’s goddess gave them a chance, nothing more. And the chance therefore comes with no guarantees that they’ll arrive in one piece, arrive at all, or even find Drizzt at the end of the trial.

The characters captured my attention with each of their journeys, and overall, the book was very enjoyable. I found a few artistic choices, though, made me stumble. Each chapter has a header that is important to notice. The timeline is not linear, and it can get a bit confusing when going from one character to the next because you might be two years before where you were the previous chapter. The header includes a year, though, that allows you to know where you are in the progress of this particular thread, and I don’t remember any times where I didn’t know which companion’s tale I’d joined. I found the point of view a little more flexible than I’d expected, sometimes narrowing close to the characters and sometimes sitting back and narrating them. And on occasion, the description seemed a bit much. Not a single one of these subjective issues took me beyond a moment of confusion or annoyance, and once I pushed past the first few chapters, there was never any question about continuing on. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series to see how these characters who I’ve watched grow into their new maturity handle the upcoming battles, both of spirit and body.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Share Your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.