“We are all prisoners at one time or another in our lives, prisoners to ourselves or to the expectations of those around us. It is a burden that all people endure, that all people despise, and that few people ever learn to escape.”
And the Drizzt’s story just got better.
WARING: DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT READ Homeland AS IT CONTAINS SPOILERS
The end question of my review of Homeland has been answered. Or has it?
We left Drizzt as he walked away from his life in Menzoberranzan and the toxic influence of the Spider Queen and drow culture. Here we meet Drizzt again when he has been in the Underdark for longer than he can remember. While he is not lost in the intricate tunnels that make up the extensive, dangerous world beneath the surface of the world, he cannot go home. He cannot interact with other creatures of intelligence. He has no family or friends other than the black panther, Guenhwyvar, that defied magic and slavery to save his drow friend at the end of the previous novel.
“Drizzt surely would have forsaken his word this day had it not been for Guenhwyvar’s
actions. How much better, then, was he from those dark elves he had left behind?”
But despite the honorable intentions and inherent nobility that Guenhwyvar has, she cannot save Drizzt from the demon of solitude. His sanity is slowly slipping and he is forgetting the convictions that sent him into the depths of the dangerous Underdark 10 years prior.
“As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went – indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors.”
While his mind unravels in the dark, Lloth has not forgotten the blow that Drizzt dealt the powerful Do’Urden family (and herself) by denouncing the faith and defying the culture. Through her drow intermediary the Spider Queen utters her ultimatum to the dishonored family: destroy Drizzt. Matron Malice must connive and scheme to bring her wayward son to heel. But her remaining children are no match for the monster that he has become in the Underdark.
“…he could continue to hide from Briza—and from all the other enemies that Matron Malice sent against him. But alone in that tiny cave, Drizzt realized something that distressed him greatly.”
In desperation to hold onto his values and fleeing whatever Matron Malice sends for him next Drizzt will find his way to the only subterranean society that he has encountered that seemed to hold kindness. However the societies of the Underdark are unwilling to risk having a disgraced, hunted drow in their midst and Drizzt must find his hope and acceptance in true friends amongst outcast creatures in the subsurface world.
“I would have been killed – truly would have preferred death – were it not for Belwar Dissengulp.”
“Everything Clacker had ever known as a pech rushed back to him when he saw the drow who had befriended him fall, doomed.”
I loved the new side of Drizzt. His innocence is gone. He understand the corruption of his society and knows that he cannot live among such treachery. But he is slowly losing his grip on all the values that led him to walk away from his family and his city. Enter in Belwar Dissengulp and Clacker: two broken creatures with big hearts and complex stories of their own. And what awesome stories that they are! While they are completely separate of the dark elf’s troubles, they fit seamlessly into his journey and somehow help the drow remember just who he is and what is worth fighting for.
We met Dissengulp the first time in Homeland when Drizzt’s brother chopped his hands off. Now the svirfneblin is struggling to make piece with the losing his miners the decade before and accepting the honor his people bestow on him. But instead of focusing on these troubles, Belwar instead seeks to undo the damage the Underdark has done on the drow that saved his life.
Clacker was once part of a peaceful race called the pech before an evil human wizard cursed him to become a monster and killed his friends. Yet even as he loses his own sanity, he works to save his new friends Belwar and Drizzt because the refuse to give up on him. His inherent kindness is such a sunny spot in the Underdark even as his slips of memory are heartbreakingly sad.
We even get a brief glimpse of Zak as he was before being tainted by Malice’s evil machinations…and it is a beautiful and heart-wrenching sight.
“Zaknafein, Belwar, Clacker, Mooshie, Bruenor, Regis, Catti-brie, Wulfgar, and of course, Guenhwyvar, dear Guenhwyvar. These were the companions who justified my principles, who gave me the strength to continue against any foe, real or imagined. These were the companions who fought the helplessness, the rage, and frustration. These were the friends who gave me my life.”
This book was a complex addition to the Drizzt Do’Urden saga. It was gritty and intense and did not skimp on the dark truths of the world. But it also gave us hope. Hope that there are those who will fight for friendship and honor despite how high the odds may be stacked against them. This was a book about the importance of friendship and how it gives us hope even in our darkest hours. Even the poignancy of the ending leaves us with hope…hope and a question. If you cannot belong in the world were you were born, where then can you belong?
I cannot wait to find out the answer in Drizzt’s next story!