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Geek book report

Friday, June 19, 2009 , Posted by Bradd McBrearty at 2:39 AM

I have an overactive mind. Most days I can't get to sleep because I can't stop the mental-heavy-lifting my brain does, sorting out the adventures of the day, and the possibilities for the future. I've discovered, however if I read about half an hour of a truly engaging book I fall right to sleep.

Recently I was introduced to the Forgotten Realms series by my friend Chad. In high school I dismissed all the Dungeons and Dragons related books as fantasy fluff. This is an interesting bit of sophistry, in that my group of friends were avid D&D players. More than one time had I heard the name of 'Drizzt Do'Urden' lauded with praise, so when Chad presented me with the collectors edition of the novels introducing him to the world*, 'The Dark Elf Trilogy,' I decided to recant my previous position and give it a chance.

(*Technically, 'The Icewind Dale Trilogy' first featured Drizzt, with 'The Dark Elf Trilogy' being written as a prequel. Having read both, I believe the author wrote 'The Dark Elf Trilogy' intending it to be read first.)

I don't really want to delve into the plotline of the three books, but rather explore the reasons why I really enjoyed the read. First of all, the story line is a compelling example of the perfect execution of the hero's journey. The adventure follows the archetypal Monomyth, and as such the reader is left with a glimmer of enlightenment at the sheer power of adhering to ones principles, and not giving in to temptation under pressure. (Other examples of the Monomyth include the stories of Buddha, Christ, Luke Skywalker, and Moses- with the notable exception that Moses ended up spending 40 years wandering around in the desert as punishment for violating his principles. A cautionary tale giving greater credence to other hero's adventures.)

The next point on which my amazement hangs is in the execution of the setting. The series is set deep underground, in a world without light. Pure, oppressive darkness. The setting is in itself the perfect foreshadowing and atmosphere for the tale to come. Now, from a completely literary point of view, describing a completely dark environment is a herculean task. Not only does the author, R. A. Salvatore, accomplish this, but he gives such life to Drizzt's dark city of birth, Menzoberranzan, that the reader himself can clearly see what it would be like to experience the world through infrared eyes, seeing the beauty that surrounds us as gradations of heat rather than reflected light.

That's all the teaser I'm going to give you. Know that the setting is grand, the adventure epic, and when it's through, the morals imparted to you will leave you both inspired and filled with hope.

The darkest moments of our lives teach us to shine the brightest.

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