Book Review: Archmage (Homecoming Book I)

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This is the first book review I post onto this blog. I posted most of this review, nearly word for word, on Goodreads first, and am posting it here now. This review contains major, major spoilers for R.A. Salvatore's Archmage (Book 1 in the Legend of Drizzt: Homecoming series). It also assumes that the readers are somewhat familiar with the LoD series, its plots, and its characters, or at least a general idea of what is going on in the books.


1) My favorite character in the entire LoD multiverse is Artemis Entreri. Jarlaxle is a close second.

2) I was not a fan of the Companions of the Hall returning from the dead. Don't get me wrong, I loved the CotH. I cried when Regis and Cattie-Brie were taken, and more so when Bruenor passed. I grieved for the loss of those three favorite characters, and then I moved on. It is difficult to lose a favored character! But we grieve and we move on. From my perspective, their loss became an opportunity for Drizzt to make more than four close friends in 30-something books, and to grow as an individual. Drizzt made about three new friends, and none of them can be described as "close."

3) As stated, this is my first book review on this blog, and is mostly what I posted on my Goodreads account, however, I am revisiting a few ideas and exploring them from a different perspective. The link is above if you would like to read the original review.]

Belongs to Wizards of the Coast and R.A. Salvatore

For readers who are huge Drizzt fans and were hoping to see him in action, this book may be a bit of a disappointment. We don't see much of Drizzt, but we get to see him at the last minute, doing what he does best (saving the day). Still, we see a lot of great action from other characters.

There are a few GREAT things about this book. We get to see more of Gromph Baenre, the titular character, and we get a better look at how he is doing emotionally (not often something you get when it comes to drow, besides Drizzt). Gromph, the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, is thousands of years old and is so powerful that the matron mothers of the drow city think twice about treating him as they would any other "mere male." Gromph is disappointed, and ANGRY, at the realization that his status has not improved and would not have improved even if the Spider Queen had taken control of the Weave, despite what he had previously concluded. His anger and pride make him susceptible to Kimmuriel's scheming, which is really not coming from Kimmuriel but from the Spider Queen herself. Hence, in the end, he unleashes a force that he simply cannot contain, and he might need extra help from unlikely characters.

We also see a tiny bit of Kimmuriel and get a peek at the functionings of House Oblodra before it was destroyed. We get to learn a bit more about dwarven culture and traditions. There is also a little bit of Athrogate and Ambergris, who have developed a relationship. Most interesting to me, we learn about Faerzress and how it affects the drow cities and gives the drow their innate magic. We get to learn what Menzoberranzan was like in its early years, and how the Baenres ended up on top.

Overall, Salvatore does a nice job of setting up the scenario for what's coming next.

There are several inconsistencies and typos, mostly forgivable. However, there are three pretty significant inconsistencies that are worth mentioning:

1) The number of people who are aware that Jarlaxle is a Baenre by birth. Previously (to the best of my memory) the only people who were aware were some of Jarlaxle's older sisters, Gromph, and Kimmuriel along with the rest of House Oblodra (who were mostly destroyed). Yet, in this book it becomes apparent that one of Jarlaxle's former lovers and a Matron Mother, is also aware of this connection. Will this turn out to be an important plot point later? Who knows.

2) This one is not so much an inconsistency but an oversight on behalf of the editors: Gromph's age. It is established that Gromph is pretty much the oldest living male in Menzoberranzan, probably thousands of years old. There is a passage that states something along the lines of Gromph being in terms of age "closer to two centuries than one." Obviously, Gromph IS closer to 200 years old than 100 years old, but I am assuming that Salvatore intended to state "millenia." This one is not such a big deal though.

3) Finally, and the one that bugs me the most personally because of how I favor Artemis Entreri: there seems to have been a relationship between Khazid'hea (Cutter) and Entreri. When did this happen? As far as I'm concerned in the literature I have read, which includes the short stories, it is never stated that Entreri ever held Khazid'hea. However, in a few places, it is stated that such a relationship existed. If anyone reading this has seen this anywhere in canon besides the current book, please point this out to me. As far as I was aware, the only sentient weapon that Entreri ever held was Charon's Claw.

Possibly the thing that is beginning to annoy me the most is, sadly, Cattie-Brie's sudden ability to do almost anything. I really liked Cattie-Brie before her reincarnation, and I was beginning to like her in The Companions. However, I am very sad to see that this former favorite character has quickly turned into a person who seems to think in terms of black and white, and who appears to be favored by many higher powers, or at the very least, is able to control them. She has become a bit of a Mary-Sue character. I was mainly upset by how she seems to be suddenly so powerful that she is able to go head to head with Gromph Baenre himself, and have him bow at her in the end. Twice.

A Cattie/Drizzt child is hinted at, which I'm sure gets a lot of hopes up and would probably secure Drizzt's legacy should anything happen to him (hopefully not though!) Salvatore also touches a bit on how all this conflict is affecting the relationship between Drizzt and Cattie, and there are hints that their future will be discussed in upcoming books. Both seem to want to settle down, but just a little bit and only for a little while. A discussion of their relationship would be interesting, because there has not been much of an exploration of the new dynamics between Drizzt and each of his returned Companions, who are now different at a personality level.

Again, overall, I think that Salvatore did a good job of setting up the world for what's to come. I can't wait to see how the characters will continue to develop from here out, but I especially cannot wait to see the return of Artemis Entreri.

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