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The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
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I read this because I am the game master for this season of D&D Encounters, and I wanted a stronger understanding of the setting. It did a pretty good job of that. The writing was pretty rough, and it was sorely lacking for female characters, but I'm a sucker for adventurous parties of friends, so I got through it pretty well. ( )
  alwright1 | Feb 19, 2014 |
Fun book. Not perfect. Read this series years and years ago. I was looking for a simple fun series I could read mostly before bed and on he weekends. This fits the bill.

If you're going to pick up the Drizzt Do'Urden books I'd recommend starting here rather than the Dark Elf trilogy. These come later chronologically, but they were written first. I think the story flows better when you start here.

Quick reads. Pretty much straight down the middle "sword and wizard" fantasy stuff here. What raises these above the crowd is the character Drizzt Do'Urden. He's got a little more depth than you're typical fantasy character, but I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him well rounded. But you'll like him.

He's batman (not the recent physcologicly tortued one, the *WHAM* *POW* one).

He's spiderman. Only he doesn't like spiders much.

He's John Reeese (from Person of Interest. You should watch that show. ya - I'm talking to you. Watch it. Stick it out through the first few episodes, it pays off).

He's going to make things work. He's got a plan, and when he doesn't have a plan he makes it up as he goes and it's going to turn out okay.

He's got a good heart and always tries to do the right thing. But sometimes when the bad guys hurt someone good he goes into a rage and kicks butt on a large scale.

Don't expect a character that would fit into The Game of Thrones. Expect a character that you could easily throw into a comic book.

And sometimes that's okay. ( )
  JohnnyPanic13 | Jan 25, 2014 |
The Crystal Shard by R.A Salvatore is often noted as a classic in the fantasy genre. Speaking to some adults who have read the book it, also seems to be one despised by many who are over the age of twenty, mainly for it’s poor writing. In truth I cannot ague against this complaint, the writing is mediocre at best, and I did find it to detract from the story. Sentences read as a hodgepodge of gratuitously inserted adjectives. One could spend a large amount of time picking apart Salvatore’s prose, but frankly I don’t have much interest in writing that review. To find the value in this work, one has to look at the age group that finds it so enthralling. (Be forewarned, spoilers ahead).

This title definitely caters to young men, mainly in their teens and the reason for this attraction is what interests me. Of course there is the obvious inclusion of violence and gore, but beyond that Salvatore included many themes that made this novel so successful for the tweens and teens. There are several representations of almost idealistic father son relationships. The book arguably has three main protagonists, Bruennor Battlehammer a somewhat gruff dwarf, Drizzt Do'Urden a kind and extremely skilled dark elf (drow that is) and Wulfgar, a young human Barbarian rescued in battle by the dwarf. Bruennor and Drizzt are stern and demanding mentors, but show a lot of compassion and pride in Wulfgar. By the end of the novel, Salvatore has both these characters treat Wulfgar as an equal (I would argue moreso than any actual father would). This representation of the hard to please, older male role model who eventually accepts the younger apprentice, is used to draw such teenage readers in. Making both of these “father figures” not actually wulfgar's biological parents, is crucial to the success of this. It’s a bit of a slide of hand; by toning down the theme Salvatore makes this inclusion acceptable to his audience and a bit less noticeable (especially if one is concentrating on axe swinging and entrails). It also is more effective because it removes the implied obligation that an actual parent would have on a child.

Another theme Salvatore plays with is the loner or outsider. Both Wulfgar and Dritzzt don't fit in, but are made to look cool because of this. In fact, Salvatore is fairly careful to keep both of these characters as rouges from society, and only strengthens the bonds within the small group of central people.

Then there’s the villain…

Akar Kessel, a young and inept wizard’s apprentice, is depicted as a social recluse, and the hyperbole of his myriad of character flaws, adds to the reader’s hatred of him. Kessel is abhorrent because he represents things that we hate most in ourselves, especially as teenagers. He is clumsy and incompetent and then his own mentors use his inferior skill and overcompensation for lack of self-confidence against him.

Kessel’s actions are the exact opposite of the young protagonist, Wulfgar. He kills his only mentor in hopes of no longer being an outside. Wulfgar on the other hand embraces the fact that he is different and slowly accepts his father figures more and more. Take what you will from these actions, but I personally was left with almost cheesy "trust your parents and stop trying to fit in so much" message.

One thing that the adult reader might struggle with is Kessel’s motivation after he finds the shard. One would have expected such a charter to seek revenge when given a magical artifact of immense power, but for some reason Salvatore shies away from this. Kessel is given an increasingly insatiable lust for power. One could argue that the shard determined most of kessel’s motivations, but that seems like such a boring route to take: an antagonist, which is effectively, a magical rock that thirsts for power for seemingly no reason. One could also try to fit the theme of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" on this character, but Kessel's character doesn't have many redeeming qualities to begin with, which leaves more of a “bad people who obtain tons of power are really awful” message, which is not all that insightful. Looking deeper, Kessel is bumbling, self-absorbed, slow-witted, physically weak and easily manipulated, and that's why teenagers can relate to him and adults might have a hard time. For the adult reader, this character just seems ridiculous, but the younger reader can empathize with his want for power, and they are just as willing to cast away the idea of revenge away as Akar Kessel is. Much like all of us in our youth, his loathing isn’t directed at those who were cruel to him, but to himself.

Attribution: http://gestclarinetist.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/the-crystal-shard-r-a-salvatore/ ( )
  jakegest | Dec 24, 2013 |
This was not at all what I expected, and for that reason alone I could almost give it four stars. I always thought that I couldn't possibly enjoy this book as an adult. Based on the things I had heard about it (D&D origins and all) I was afraid that I had missed my window where I could enjoy it (somewhere in my late teen years I assumed). Apparently I hadn't missed that window though, this actually turned out to be a fun read. It maybe wasn't the best fantasy I've ever read but it was far from the worst, it had a good story line and interesting characters, it was written pretty well (better than I had expected) and was well paced. So yeah, good times. I learned something when I read this book. I'm full of it and need to stop being a fantasy snob, there's fun stuff out there that I'm probably missing because I assume I've matured beyond it. The more you know... ( )
  breakofdawn | Jun 11, 2013 |
Second reading; still enjoyable. ( )
  morbusiff | May 9, 2013 |
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To my wife, Diane and Bryan, Geno, and Caitlin for their support and patience through this experience. And to my parents, Geno and Irene, for believing in me even when I didn't.
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The demon sat back on the seat it had carved in the stem of the giant mushroom.
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"Prayne de crabug ahm rinedere be-yogt iglo kes gron" or, "May the fleas of a thousand reindeer nest in your genitals"
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Book description
Akar Kessel, a weak-willed apprentice mage sets in motion events leading to the rediscovery of the magical device, the crystal shard. But is it merely an inanimate device . . . or is it capable of directing the defeat of Ten-Towns?

Or have the barbarians already arranged for that themselves? Their brutal attack on the villages of Ten-Towns seals their fate, and that of the young barbarian Wulfgar. Left for dead, Wulfgar is rescued by the dwarf, Bruenor, in exchange for five years of service . . . and friendship. With the help of the dark elf, Drizzt, Bruenor reshapes Wulfgar into a warrior with both brawn and brains.

But is Wulfgar strong enough to reunite the barbarian tribes? Can an unorthodox dwarf and renegade dark elf persuade the people of Ten-Towns to put aside their petty differences in time to stave off the forces of the crystal shard?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0880385359, Mass Market Paperback)

Akar Kessel, a weak-willed apprentice mage sets in motion events leading to the rediscovery of the magical device, the crystal shard. But is it merely an inanimate device . . . or is it capable of directing the defeat of Ten-Towns?

Or have the barbarians already arranged for that themselves? Their brutal attack on the villages of Ten-Towns seals their fate, and that of the youn barbarian Wulfgar. Left for dead, Wulfgar is rescued by the dwarf, Bruenor, in exchange for five years of service . . . and friendship. With the help of the dark elf, Drizzt, Bruenor reshapes Wulfgar into a warrior with both brawn and brains.

But is Wulfgar strong enough to reunite the barbarian tribes? Can an unorthodox dwarf and renegade dark elf persuade the people of Ten-Towns to put aside their petty differences in time to stave off the forces of the crystal shard?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:48 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Bruenor, a dwarf, Drizzt, a dark elf, and Wulfgar, a barbarian warrior, try to unite the people of Ten-Towns to face the dangerous magic of the crystal shard. Akar Kessel, a weak-willed apprentice mage sets in motion events leading to the rediscovery of the magical device, the crystal shard. But is it merely an inanimate device ... or is it capable of directing the defeat of Ten-Towns? Or have the barbarians already arranged for that themselves? Their brutal attack on the villages of Ten-Towns seals their fate, and that of the youn barbarian Wulfgar. Left for dead, Wulfgar is rescued by the dwarf, Bruenor, in exchange for five years of service ... and friendship. With the help of the dark elf, Drizzt, Bruenor reshapes Wulfgar into a warrior with both brawn and brains. But is Wulfgar strong enough to reunite the barbarian tribes? Can an unorthodox dwarf and renegade dark elf persuade the people of Ten-Towns to put aside their petty differences in time to stave off the forces of the crystal shard?… (more)

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