The Hunter's Night: the review

The Hunter's Night: the review
Drizzt Do'Urden is back and, with him, the Companions of Mithral Hall: from death a rebirth that, after twenty years, is a promise of new adventures, but also of a deep descent into the darkness dominated by his own people, that of the drow. With The Hunter's Night, published by Armenia, R.A. Salvatore takes us once again to the Forgotten Realms, alongside the most famous dark elf in fantasy: a journey full of dangers and vicissitudes which, beyond some contradictions, manages to capture the reader and give him the transport necessary to devour this first chapter of the trilogy entitled Companions Codex.

Towards Gauntlgrym

From the first novel dedicated to the adventures of Drizzt Do'Urden written by RA Salvatore in 1988, thirty-two years have passed, but Menzoberranzan's drow and his long-time companions (his family, we could say) still have a lot to offer, even years later. We have proof of this with La Notte del Cacciatore, the first novel of the Companions Codex trilogy published in 2014 and reprinted this year by Armenia in a new Italian edition: unfortunately, this new publication is not without defects, however the story of Drizzt is made forgive for the inconsistencies found.

The story begins with the machinations that are slowly being implemented by the drow, the people of dark elves who live in the underground city of Menzoberranzan. Here, Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre receives a message marked by some urgency from the evil Spider Queen Lolth, the goddess who inhabits the Demonic Pits: there is a plague in the world to be eliminated and her name is Drizzt Do'Urden, faithful servant of Lolth's enemy, the goddess Mielikki. To make Quenthel ready (and worthy) to face this mission, Archmage Gromph Baenre transfers the consciousness of his deceased mother, Yvonnel, into it, through the intrusion of an illithid, a mind flayer. Quenthel thus becomes a ruthless creature, who overturns Menzoberranzan's Council of Eight for revenge.

Meanwhile, on the surface, Drizzt (and his faithful panther Guenhwyvar) is once again reunited with the friends of a lifetime, after their death and reincarnation thanks to the goddess Mielikki: the dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer, the barbarian Wulfgar, the halfling Regis and the human Catti-Brie, wife of Drizzt. For the latter, it seems that the pain and shadows of the past have dissolved thanks to the reunion with those who represent the members of his family, however, in reality, the problems have never ended. In the depths of Gauntlgrym, the ancient dwarven capital, still wanders their old friend Thibbledorf Pwent, who has become a vampire, and the Companions of Mithral Hall are more determined than ever to free the dwarf from the terrible curse of undeath, thus setting off for the city .

The company does not know that Gauntlgrym has fallen into the hands of the drow, under the command of the ruthless Quenthel Baenre, who has made it a new settlement for the dark elves and has appropriated the dwarven forges to forge the weapons. needed to wage war on the surface dwellers and track down Drizzt Do'Urden. It is in the depths of the former dwarven city, now called by the drow Q'Xorlarrin and imbued with the evil power of the Queen Kingdom, that an old nemesis of Drizzt finds herself imprisoned, along with her traveling companions: it is Artemis Entreri, a captured assassin together with Dahlia (old flame of Drizzt), the monk Afafrenfere and the dwarf Ambragris, to be questioned about the position of the dark elf.

The journey of the Companions of Mithral Hall aimed at saving a friend will thus become a descent into the dark bowels of the city, against goblins and undead, drow and ghosts of the past, as a war is prepared that could forever disrupt surface lands. And Drizzt's life is once again suspended on the edge of a web.

The Night of the Hunter, dark and dangerous

R.A. Salvatore, an author who with his novels has expanded the universe of Dungeons & Dragons exponentially, tells us that as long as the Companions of Mithral Hall are alive (in this case, a second life) it will be possible to go on and fight, pitfall after pitfall, in search of ever new adventures that can bring good to the lands of the Forgotten Realms.

The Night of the Hunter is basically this: an expedition in which Drizzt and his companions throw themselves with their heads down to save, or at least give peace, to a dear friend; without worrying about the dangers, without any fear, with all the strength necessary to pass this new test. The drow is not free from doubts and remorse come knocking on the door of his mind directly from the past: it is precisely the parts told in the first person by Drizzt that are sometimes best realized, represented by profound reflections that embrace the entire human sphere. However, the dark elf does not allow himself to be overwhelmed by those shaded areas. To read about his journey with the Companions of Mithral Hall, conducted with courage and fortitude, means letting himself be transported directly into his world and into his fantastic adventures.

It is a reading that leads us into dark caves and ancient cities, in the midst of spells chanted with the help of magical artifacts, blows of axes and hammers, bizarre alchemical stratagems that prove to be saving and the inevitable dances of Drizzt and his faithful scimitars, Lightning and Frozen Death. Getting involved, with The Hunter's Night, is as inevitable as coming to the end and discovering that you don't have enough of these adventures. Even wishing to be part of that group of fighters who, without fear, always find a way to defeat evil.

The rhythm is often broken by the meticulous descriptions of the fights made by R.A. Salvatore: every attack, every movement of the body, every spell cast is exposed down to the smallest detail, almost as if it were suspended in time and analyzed under a microscope, exasperating the length of the reading. Anyone who knows the author knows that it is a well-known defect already present in the novels dedicated to the adventures of Drizzt Do'Urden; and yet it does not affect the general enjoyment of the novel, which is nevertheless full of tension and twists, full of those adventures that lovers of fantasy and role-playing games can only appreciate.

The intrigues of Menzoberranzan

The power games played by the Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre and her brother Gromph represent, in The Night of the Hunter, the sweet and bitter of this novel. It is interesting and engaging to read, in fact, also the plots hatched between the powerful and treacherous rulers of Menzoberranzan. Clever plans and devised from the outset to achieve final objectives that will leave the reader surprised and eager to continue reading the next volume.

It should be noted, however, that often the "intrigues in the palace" staged by RA Salvatore occupy a large part of the space in the novel and are outlined most of the time in a verbose way, in which it is easy to get lost trying to unravel the tangled skein of names (both of people and families): reading these parts sometimes requires a great effort and different reinterpretations, to understand what is really happening, who is allied with whom and who is the enemy, what role certain characters play.

The contrast between good and evil, light and darkness, the space of the surface against the dark and claustrophobic places of the underground cities, it is rendered in an excellent way thanks also and above all to the presence of such passages, which provide a look directly from inside the "den of the bad guys". For some characters, protagonists and old friends of Drizzt, however, it will be easy to get lost among the malevolent whispers of the goddess Lolth, who weaves her web from the dark abyss of the Demonic Pits, thus blurring the dichotomy between the shadows and the brighter areas of the 'human spirit. Those who were friends can thus become a new enemy to fight and vice versa, since no one is immune from those ideas that can creep into the recesses of the mind and corrupt it.

Alongside the great involvement that is created by reading The Hunter's Night, however, there is a slight disappointment: adventures and conspiracies, breathtaking clashes and machinations woven in the shadows, are often broken by the numerous errors and typos found among the pages of the novel. Of these, it is possible to find at least one per page, a rather high average, which sometimes makes it difficult to understand a sentence or to raise doubts about the real pronunciation of this or that name. However, we trust that this is a physiological defect often found in the first editions and that with the next reprints the enjoyment of the novel will be full and complete.

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