Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Companions

I wonder how much beforehand this book was planned. Was the return of Drizzt's companions meant to happen already back when the D&D 4th edition changes and the 100-year jump hit the Forgotten Realms? Perhaps, considering the fact that the novel authors were not warned of it, and R. A. Salvatore had to somehow get the characters to survive beyond their normal lifespans.

My other theory is that their comeback was devised during the writing of the previous Drizzt book, The Last Threshold. That would explain the rather weak ending and the jumps to get to the correct time. The time when the Sundering hits the Realms -- an event Ed Greenwood & co. came up with to "correct " the setting. And probably to prepare for the 5th edition as well.

Reminds me of what happened to Dragonlance when the Fifth Age arrived and everything went to hell. And then came the War of Souls trilogy, where Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman put it all back together pretty much like it was before.

Regardless, in The Companions, we see Drizzt's dead companions -- Catti-brie, Regis, and Bruenor -- return from the dead, as Mielikki, Drizzt's patron goddess, feels like they should save the ranger -- from the fight with Dahlia as well as future events. The companions are reincarnated in the bodies of newborn babies around Faerûn, planning to meet in 21 years at Kelvin's Cairn where Drizzt will be laying mortally wounded.

The novel follows the three characters as they grow up, and thus Drizzt is only visited at the start and end, when the reunion happens. Bruenor is reborn pretty much like he was before, as is Catti-brie, who embraces her wizard studies like she did before dying. She is now also a chosen of Mielikki, though I don't think she is even nearly as powerful as, say, Elminster.

I think Regis foregoes the biggest changes, though, as he wants to be more useful to the party this time. By the end of the book, he has (re)acquired rogue talents, some serious skill with rapier, as well as owning a whole bunch of magic items. I laughed out loud at Jarlaxle's "Nice hat." comment when Regis fleetingly met him in Luskan.

The book of course doesn't mention it ('cause it would be silly) but when Regis's character was first created, the halflings of the Realms were stubby and more hobbit-like. However, since the 3rd edition, they've been leaner and more athletic, and I think Regis becoming more fighter-like was only natural. As a bonus, he has water genasi blood in him this time as well.

The Companions was entertaining and something bit different. Certainly brought some fresh air to the everlasting Drizzt series, which maybe hasn't been that strong during the late Neverwinter Saga. I can't wait to see what happens next, now that the Companions of the Hall have been rebooted.

Also, I happened to read this book in Finnish. The translation was done by Mika Renvall, who has been translating the Drizzt books since the very first one (though he hasn't done every single one, iirc), and thus the language is at least consistent if nothing else. And in my opinion Renvall does a pretty good job. The only spots I stop at are usually ones I wouldn't know how to translate smoothly either.

'Kuunkolmannes' [third of a month] confused me for a while but then I realized that was what Renvall had translated 'tenday' as, which is a week in the Realms.

Drizzt's journal entries are even worse in Finnish; so incredibly cheesy.

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