I received a free copy of The Companions to review from Netgalley. The premise of the story is that several of the characters from the Forgotten Realms series, Bruenor Battlehammer, Wulfgar and Regis the halfling, choose to be reborn and meet again in twenty years in order to protect Drizzt Do’Urden from an unspecified threat. It is a tale of love and friendship rather than good vs evil.
At first, I felt at a distinct disadvantage not being familiar with R.A. Salvatore’s work. The most noticeable example of that was near the beginning when the character Ruqiah suddenly declared her name was “Catti-brie.” From the context it was clear that this was supposed to be a shocking revelation, but my reaction was more along the lines of “oh, OK. Who the heck is Catti-brie, and why should I care about her?” Fortunately, Salvatore made a point of answering those questions clearly and effectively. It took me a little longer to get my head around the various races who live in this world, and their relations to each other, but that didn’t impact on my enjoyment of the book.
What I liked
Salvatore’s writing style. His writing style is noticeably more “epic” than that of many writers I’ve read recently and I particularly enjoyed it. It made me regret not having read more of his work sooner. There were some amusing moments of levity too. I’m thinking of when newly reborn Bruenor is distracted by the physical needs of his newborn body!
Character relationships. As I mentioned, I was not familiar with the characters or their previous histories, but I soon found myself liking them and rooting for them. I also appreciated the fact that the characters were subject to self doubt and at various points became unsure of and regretted the decision they made to go back to protect Drizzt.
Despite not being familiar with the characters, Salvatore did a fantastic job of showing the depths of the relationships that bind the main characters. Although Drizzt Do’Urden has a fairly minor role in the book, I found myself wanting to read more about him given that he was able to inspire such love and devotion from our main characters. Indeed, I purchased Homeland in order to learn more about him.
Some interesting themes. Some of the questions raised in the book were, I thought, very interesting. For example, the question of if you would sacrifice your own personal idea of heaven/the afterlife in order to protect a friend, and how to remain focussed on a goal which seems irrelevant to your current life.
What I didn’t like
Personally, I found the ending rather rushed. After all the Companions have struggled for and sacrificed to save Drizzt, the actual saving seemed rather low key.
All in all though, I thoroughly enjoyed The Companions and gave it four stars out of five.