Out of the Underdark Once More–Timeless: A Drizzt Novel by R. A. Salvatore


Timeless: A Drizzt Novel
R.A. Salvatore
Harper Voyager, 2018



Centuries ago, in the city of Menzoberranzan—the City of Spiders, the city of drow—nestled deep in the unmerciful Underdark of Toril, a young weapon master earned a reputation far above his station or that of his poor house.




The greater nobles watched him, and one powerful Matron—Malice—decided to take him as her own. She connived with rival houses to secure her prize, but it was ultimately the roguish Jarlaxle who caught him.


Thus sparked the birth of two key moments in Menzoberranzan: the coupling of a noble and weapon master that would produce Drizzt Do’Urden…and the friendship between Zaknafein and Jarlaxle.


R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of this unlikely pair—offering a fresh take on the intrigue and opportunities to be found in the shadows, and providing a fascinating prelude to the journeys that have shaped the modern-day Forgotten Realms. There, Zaknafein and Drizzt are joined together in a series of trials that parallel those of centuries long past, even though their paths no longer seem to be aligned. How will a father, so long constrained by the vicious and conservative world of the drow, be able to reconcile his ingrained prejudices with the world and companions of his enlightened son?


The answer lies in their desire for peace over chaos. And as long as the scourge of the goddess Lolth’s ambitions still remain, both are determined to keep her dark will at bay. But the Spider Queen is powerful, and now demons have been unleashed on the unwitting denizens of the surface world. United in purpose—and through their mutual friendship with Jarlaxle—Zaknafein and Drizzt will need to put aside their differences in order to keep the ones they love safe.

Set in the Forgotten Realms, a world of Dungeons & Dragons, R.A. Salvatore presents us with the first in a new series centered around the much loved renegade Drow (dark elf), Drizzt Do’Urden. For over 30 years Salvatore has been the prime mover in the world of Forgotten Realms. To call Drizzt iconic would be an understatement. Among fantasy fiction heroes, he commands a legion of fans. So, of course, Salvatore’s return to the character will be met with eager hordes of readers and tabletop gamers.

For those unfamiliar with Drizzt, Salvatore has crafted a foundational tale of sorts focused more on Drizzt’s father Zaknafein. The relationship between father and son comes to the fore once readers are given a glimpse of the man who would be the sire and mentor to the arguably the world’s greatest swordsman. How do we get there? We enter into the character of Zaknafein via friendship as the first third of the novel center around him and the mercenary Jarlaxle as they come to define their rebellion. Both men are outliers in their culture–one dominated by cruelty and violence and an inversion of our patriarchal society.

As the two grow to respect each other and grow closer we can see where Drizzt got many of his character traits and ticks. The crux of the novel’s plot is the resurrection of Zaknafein–who is responsible, why, and to what purpose–and how his presence unsettles and invigorates his son. The middle third of the novel weaves flashbacks of the exploits of Zaknafein and Jarlaxle in the Underdark with the present’s growing intrigue along the northern Sword Coast. Here the defender of Waterdeep, Lord Neverember, seems to have struck up a queer alliance with a formerly stateless clan of dwarves installing them at a ridiculous price in a coastal ruins. Neverember and the dwarven king Bruenor (and great friend to Drizzt) are on paper allies but loathe each other as Neverember jockeys for more and more power. Evil and chaotic forces are more than willing to capitalize on Lord Neverember’s ambitions especially those in the Underdark, which is now enduring a thinned veil between it and the realms of demons.

Salvatore gives readers what they want–stunning swordplay, fabulous magical battles, and demonic machinations. There is a fantastic amount of action in this novel always in the service of the plot making each scene not just entertaining but utile. For example, we are treated to two Drizzt versus Zaknafein duals–the first so that Drizzt can validate that the Drow before him is really his father by recognizing his signature fighting style and the second as the two realize they are terrible communicators and have to work their problems out with their blades. Similarly, readers will adore Jarlaxles’ scenes as he as a constant supply of magic items (D&D fans will love recognizing them) as well as a quick witted tongue. By the final third of the novel, identities and plots aren’t quite revealed but readers stand alongside the protagonists with a sense of the danger surrounding them. There is a relentless energy to the conclusion of the novel priming readers for the next to come. 

Read and excerpt here.


About the Author


Thirty years ago, R. A. Salvatore created the character of Drizzt Do’Urden, the dark elf who has withstood the test of time to stand today as an icon in the fantasy genre. With his work in the Forgotten Realms, the Crimson Shadow, the DemonWars Saga, and other series, Salvatore has sold more than thirty million books worldwide and has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list more than two dozen times. He considers writing to be his personal journey, but still, he’s quite pleased that so many are walking the road beside him! R.A. lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Diane, and their three dogs, Ivan, Pikel, and Dexter. He still plays softball for his team, Clan Battlehammer, and enjoys his weekly DemonWars: Reformation RPG game.

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