Homeland is the first book in both the Dark Elf Trilogy and the Legend of Drizzt series, the latter of which is an overall story arc that tells the story of Drizzt Do’Urden, a drow (dark elf) that defied the standards of his race and society. Written after the Icewind Dale trilogy, the Dark Elf Trilogy is meant to be a prequel to said story arc, used to flesh out the Drizzt character and create a proper lore around him.
Being the first Forgotten Realms/Dungeons and Dragons novel I read (Though I had before played several videogames set in the Forgotten Realms), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It is generally believed that novels based on such IPs are terrible and generally written just to get a quick buck from the fans of the setting. I’m glad to say this wasn’t the case, for I found myself enjoying every minute spent with Homeland, and immediately got the book that followed it in the trilogy (Exile) after I was done with it.
Homeland begins the night when Drizzt Do’Urden is born in the drow city of Menzoberranzan, the very same night when House Do’Urden attacks House De’Vir and eventually destroys it, leaving but one survivor who was lucky enough to not have been present at his House’s base when the attack took place. This is the same night when Drizzt Do’Urden is born, originally meant to be a sacrifice for Lloth, the evil spider goddess who reigns over the Drow society.
The book’s main storyline deals with the points of view Drizzt develops about the society surrounding him, a society based on war and cruelty with a social structure where the cruelest are the ones who get further, and where houses dedicated to praise queen Lloth all but control the city and what happens in it, in a permanent war for power to gain the favor of the spider queen, who can in turn grant them the strength to defeat the foes that might arise against them in the cruel, ever-changing society of Menzoberranzan.
Drizzt’s points of view, however, differ greatly from those of his brethren. While most drows seem to enjoy being cruel and live by beliefs that actually point out any race but theirs as an inherently evil race due to their reluctance to praise Lloth, Drizzt soon enough starts entertaining the idea that perhaps it is the drow race that’s actually evil, with most of the other races that live in the world being more often than not victims to the cruelty of the drow elves and of Lloth. This personality trait he has, however, is quickly enough noticed by members of his House, who try to turn him into a killing machine (The drow he’s meant to be as per both the rules of Lloth and the education he’s given) to avoid losing the favor of Lloth, who would never look kindly upon a house of which one of the sons was considered weak and a coward.
Salvatore’s writing in this book manages to pull the reader in from as early as the first chapter, which tells of the attack against house De’Vir and the birth of Drizzt to Matron Malice Do’Urden, the leader of House Do’Urden. His narrative actually manages to shine and weave most, if not all of the plotlines explored in the book rather beautifully, keeping the reader interested in both the character of Drizzt and those surrounding him, quickly creating a three dimensional world around the reader and giving life to Menzoberranzan and the roughness of the drow society.
The storyline itself is pretty well developed, with few if any loose ends left by the end of the book (And some of those are revisited in the second book of the trilogy), and with an overall narrative arc that centers on Drizzt’s life and House Do’Urden’s issues, without ever straying away from them, which allows for Salvatore to tell most of the story from points of view the reader can relate to, since generally the novel is told around a small set of characters.
Character development itself requires its own mention, considering it is quite easy to relate to most of the characters in the novel whether you like their points of view or not. Sure, Drizzt’s values are hard to go against, but when you find yourself reading and actually rooting for the evil Matron Malice to appear again just to see what she’ll be up to this time you know characters have been well developed enough. Most of the characters in the novel can be added to this list, since relatively few of them are introduced without a proper reason, so in most cases when a character appears it means their storylines will affect the main one in some way.
All in all, Homeland sets the table beautifully for a fantasy series by creating a living, breathing universe and populating it with relatable characters all the while boasting an interesting storyline that keeps the reader in suspense about the fates of both Drizzt and House Do’Urden, while avoiding falling into fantasy clichés or even taking much from other such novels. This is easily one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read, and one I must definitely recommend.
Final review rating: 5/5
Availability: The book is currently available on physical and digital form from Amazon.com
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