Monday, April 7, 2008

Saturday - and I go off on a book Tangent

Saturday morning Jen headed over to Crystal Springs for 16ish miles so I decided to run near the house since I was only doing six. This was my longest run since my surgery but for some reason I decided to also make it my fastest run since; not sure how that logic formed in my head. I started out feeling a bit sluggish and choppy in my stride but after warming up I fell into a good pace. My first mile came in at 8:17, I didn’t know that was the pace at the time because I decided to not look at my watch for the first couple of miles. Mile two was 8:03 and the only reason I noticed that pace was because I looked at my Garmin to see how far I was when I turned off of the sidewalk and onto the trail. Lately I have been running on the Iron Horse trail and I decided to run a course that I have done with Jen in the past. I could feel that I was holding a pretty strong pace through the next four miles but I didn’t look to see what the pace was until I finished up. Those four miles came in at 7:50, 7:52, 7:47, and 7:47; the last mile felt tough and that’s when it dawned on me that I hadn’t ran this far since my surgery but I kept pushing to the end.

Once I got home and stretched out I made a fruit smoothie (vanilla yogurt, frozen berry medley, and a splash of cranberry juice), brewed some coffee, and knocked out some chores. Jen sent me a text saying she hit some traffic on the way to her run so she got a bit of a late start; since I had some extra time I sat back with a cup of coffee and read for a bit.

I am working on the last two R.A. Salvatore books left in the series I have been reading. These two are an offshoot of the main series but are just as good. I have a bit of Dungeons & Dragons/Forgotten Realms fantasy dork in me and I really love these books. The main series starts with the Dark Elf Trilogy and introduces Drizzt Do’Urden, the main character who is present through all of the books. The tale of Drizzt goes from the Underdark where he forsakes the evil ways of his race (Dark Elves or Drow) and ends in book two when he makes his way to the surface world. He survives in the Underdark for years using his skills with the blade, finding many exciting and dangerous adventures as well as a couple of friends of other races that see past the evil reputation of his people (eventually – it definitely takes them some time since the other races of the Underdark have first hand experience with Dark Elves). His adventures on the surface pick and continue in book three as he struggles to find acceptance in a world that judges him solely on the reputation of his evil race despite never having actually met or seen a Dark Elf (Dark Elves are cruel, wicked, and very powerful and have rightly earned their reputation as one of the most evil races). He eventually finds a niche and a friend, a human ranger, who helps him come to embrace his differences and teaches him to use his skills (Drizzt was the finest Drow warrior in the city of 20,000 where he lived and is arguably has no match on the surface world) to defend those that can not defend themselves and to fight for what he believes is right in his heart.

The story picks up in the fourth book which is the first book of the Icewind Dale Trilogy and finds Drizzt making his way to Icewind Dale, an inhospitable land full of rogues and adventurers where only the strong survive. The three books in this trilogy introduce several characters who will join Drizzt on his many exciting and dangerous adventures in these and other books in the series; they include Bruneor Battlehammer, a Dwarven King, his adopted human children Cattie-brie and Wulfgar, and a Halfling named Regis. This group will come to be known as the Champions of the Hall and their adventures and battles against the evil races (giants, orcs, goblins, and evil humans) will play a large role in many people on the surface coming to accept Drizzt despite the reputation of his race. This trilogy also introduces Drizzt’s mirror opposite, Artemis Entreri, a human assassin that symbolizes what Drizzt would have become if he hadn’t fled the city of his birth. Even though Artemis is human and has only been alive for thirty years (vs. 70ish for Drizzt (Elves can live upwards of 1,000 years)) he is considered by many to be Drizzt’s equal with the blade and the battles they fight are amazing and terrifying at the same time.

One character that is present in all of the books (there are 18 in the main series so far) and deserves mentioning is Drizzt’s loyal companion and friend Guenhwyvar. Guenhwyvar is a magical panther from the Astral plane who can be summoned to the Prime Material plane through a magical figurine Drizzt obtained in his home city. The panther is with Drizzt through all the years and is his closest and most trusted companion. Even though they can not speak to one and other Guenhwyvar “understands” Drizzt and in the years he spent in solitude he would spend countless hours talking to the panther to sort through his own thoughts and inner turmoil. The panther has saved his life many times over and it was noted in one book that although Guenhwyvar has served several masters over several thousand years, Drizzt is the kindest and holds the panther’s loyalty above all others.

The next series, The Legacy, chronicles Drizzt’s capture by his sister and several other Dark Elves and their attempt to return him to his homeland to face sacrifice to the Spider Queen, Loth. Eventually he decided to return to the city on his own to face the demons of his past due to his fear that his family will always seek him out and harm those he holds near and dear. He returns to the city of his birth and is nearly killed but is saved by Cattie-brie and of all people, Artemis Entreri. They make their way to the surface where Drizzt and Artemis part ways vowing to continue their personal battle at another time. The Dark Elves eventually return for Drizzt but this time they come in the form of a large army with plans to dominate the kingdom of Bruenor Battlehammer (where Drizzt has been living all these years). A great battle ensues and eventually the Dark Elf hoards are driven back into their dark realm. Even though they are defeated they leave a swath of death and destruction in their wake. The series ends with Drizzt and Cattie-brie leaving Bruenor’s kingdom and traveling the surface world together in search of adventure.

The story resumes in the Paths of Darkness series which contains four books. This series follows the Champions of the Hall as they embark on another exciting quest and chronicles how the group falls apart and ultimately reunites. This series follows them across the surface world, onto the open sea where they battle pirates, and to Calimport the home of Artemis Entreri. A main character present from the beginning of the series to the end filters in and out of the story; Jaraxle, a opportunistic Dark Elf and the leader of a mercenary band called Bregan D’aerthe. Jaraxle is one of my favorite characters because he breaks the mold of what a Dark Elf is expected to be. He is not kind hearted like Drizzt but he is not narrow-minded like others of his race. He eventually befriends Artemis Entreri and their adventures spin off of this series into the two books I am reading now (Promise of the Witch-King and The Road of the Patriarch).

The penultimate trilogy, The Hunters Blades, chronicles the amassing of Orcs in the Spine of the World and their attempt to stake out a kingdom under the leadership of Obould Many Arrows. Obould is not what an orc should be; he is cunning, brave, thinks ahead, and has a vision of a kingdom on the surface. He is aided by a Frost Giant army and a quartet of renegade dark elves along with goblins and worgs. The dwarves band together to fight off the invasion and many great battles ensue leaving both sides reeling. Drizzt is off on his own throughout the majority of the books in this trilogy creating chaos where he can, eventually teaming up with two surface elves who begin teaching him “what it means to be an elf”.

The (current) final series begins with the continuation of the war with Obould and tells the story from the perspective of Drizzt looking back into the past. This is the first book that took that approach and it was an interesting change from the normal pattern of storytelling. The book follows the heroes as they search for the long lost kingdom of Bruenor’s ancestors, battle with the orc hordes, and ends with a surprise twist. The next book in the series, The Pirate King, is due out in October 2008 and I am looking forward to the continuing excitement and adventure that R.A. Salvatore and his cast of characters have always provided.

If you are looking for something different, something exciting, and something that will make you think (I find I can relate to a lot of what Drizzt has to say about the world around him, the way people think and act, and the different ways people view their lives); then pick up the first book in the first series – it’s called Homeland.

Since I went off on a bit of a tangent there I will save the rest of the weekend for another post.

1 comment:

Tristram Wood said...

Hey Shoes- glad to hear you're healing well. I went for my first full run last Friday and I was very sore after- started to swim this week and it felt good-no tugging. Funny you mention those books- my son is a HUGE D&D/Salvatore fan and he is a big fan of that particular series. Small world! Keep up the hard work!