Review: The Last Threshold: Neverwinter Saga, Book IV

Geek Culture
Image: Wizards of the Coast Publishing

Compelling characters. Drama, intrigue, and betrayal. Conflict on a number of levels. Signature fight scenes. The Last Threshold: Neverwinter Saga, Book IV has these, plus much more, awaiting fans in the final installment of R.A. Salvatore’s Neverwinter Saga.

Released today, and published by Wizards of the Coast Publishing, The Last Threshold continues the tale of Drizzt Do’Urdan, and his band of ragtag companions. It takes the readers who have been following Drizzt on many adventures into some uncharted territory.

The official synopsis reads:

In the final book of the #4 New York Times best-selling Neverwinter Saga, Drizzt Do’Urden navigates a winding path littered with secrets and lies. Tangled up in his companion Dahlia’s dark secrets, the ties that once held her close to Drizzt threaten to tear as her bonds to his former foe, Artemis Entreri, continue to grow. Meanwhile, in the caverns of Gauntlgrym, the drow Tiago Baenre enlists the help of Bregan D’aerthe in his quest to destroy Drizzt. While making promises they may not keep, the agents of the elite drow mercenary group hide plans of their own. Determined to stand for what’s right in the Realms once again, Drizzt forges a new road north–toward Icewind Dale. Will his new companions follow? Can he fight the darkness alone? Either way, he knows now where he’s headed–back to the only place that’s ever felt like home.

Awaiting the reader is an extra dose of inner turmoil, as Drizzt tries to come to terms with his life. It is Drizzt’s personal and moral dilemmas, plus his companion Dahlia’s tortured soul — the result of a very traumatic childhood event, now coming back to confront her — that kept me reading.

For the sake of fairness, I should note that fantasy, in print form, is a very hit and miss genre for me. More times than not, it is a miss, as fantasy fails to hold my interest. Between my difficulty with suspension of disbelief, a brain that doesn’t like to struggle with how character names are pronounced, and pages upon pages of describing details that I would prefer to fill in with my own colors — details that my brain thinks does nothing to move the story forward — I did struggle to continue reading beyond the first few chapters of The Last Threshold.

However, the struggle I experienced with The Last Threshold was not because I was not enjoying R.A. Salvatore‘s writing style. The opposite is true. He doesn’t spent too much time describing things I think are best left to one’s imagination. In this case, the issue was that it takes the first five chapters of the book before Drizzt and his companions leave their starting point, and embark on their journey.

These first five chapters are not a waste. They are spent reacquainting the readers who have been following Drizzt on his journey for decades, while introducing the new reader to this epic tale. Also, they are not without action. Drizzt and Dahlia go on a bit of a side quest, which, in a recent conversation with Salvatore, Salvatore stated will tie-in to a later comic.

However, my personal preference is that these tie-ins to previous books get woven into various parts of the story, as it progresses. This is completely a personal preference, and not the fault of the author.

Because, here is the thing.

While I was hoping that the action would began and this band of characters would move out of their starting point, Salvatore began to introduce me to a very complex and intriguing set of characters. I wanted to learn more about them. And, as much as I find this notion of a morally-good drow to be very compelling and intriguing, I found Dahlia to be an interesting mix of aloof, pitiable, complex, broken, and yet strong. I found myself to be almost hypnotized by her, wanting to find out more about this troubled soul, while still looking at her sideways because she is an enigma.

Dahlia has good reason to be an enigma, appearing to be extremely self-involved. When the reality of her childhood is revealed, and that past is now coming back for revenge, I was compelled to continue reading. If I didn’t enjoy anything else from this story, I needed to get to this resolution, and see how this situation would further stress the triangular relationship between Drizzt, Dahlia, and Artemis Entreri.

I was rewarded for my perseverance. I was introduced to an aspect of Drizzt that I wish I had come to know earlier. I would have read many more of his tales.

I’ve only read one other book in the Neverwinter SagaNeverwinter — and The Crystal Shard from the Icewind Dale Trilogy. Now, after many years roaming the Forgotten Realms, after losing friends and loved ones, he’s reached a most interesting point in his journey, both physically and mentally. And while Salvatore gives readers all the information they need to understand how Drizzt arrived at this point, I want to go back and follow his journey from the beginning. It may take some time, as I cannot read an entire fantasy book in one sitting the same way I devour science-fiction, but I want to take this journey.

The rest of Drizzt’s companions are also very compelling, and unique. Afafenfere has quite the story. Not only because he is a homosexual warrior monk. Like the rest of his companions, he is a little broken and wounded. But, man, can he fight. Ambergris is a riot. Her humor is much needed. Finally, Artemis Entreri. I am still undecided about what I think of him. His character does add a very nice added dimension to this group, and a nice source of tension.

Aside from compelling characters, there is so much intrigue, betrayal, deception, and some pretty interesting plots as the paths of Drizzt and his gang draw closer to the final end. Of course, there are plenty of the epic fight scenes for which Salvatore is well-known.

While Salvatore can paint a mighty fine action scene, my heart did not race during those scenes. Instead, I found myself holding my breath when Draygo Quick and Effron, and Tiago Baenre would take the scene.

When all was said and done, when the book was over, I was satisfied with the journey I had just finished. I was thankful to meet the characters that I met, to become better acquainted with others, and I was surprised to find myself caring for these characters in a way that seldom happens after only one book.

If you are a long-time reader of the The Legend of Drizzt novels, you will be very happy with this final installment in the Neverwinter Saga. The Last Threshold will take you on an epic journey of self-discovery, filled with great action, suspense, drama, and heart-pounding intrigue. While new readers can pick up this book and get enjoyment from it, I do recommend that you go back and start with the Transitions series. If you do not want to go back that far, then begin with Gauntlgrym, the first book in the Neverwinter Saga. If you decide not to, then, in the end, there is a good chance you will want to return to the beginnings anyway.

You can purchase The Last Threshold: Neverwinter Saga, Book IV on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

Last week, I sat down with R.A. Salvatore to discuss The Last Threshold, and more, for my Geeky Pleasures Radio Show. It will air on Friday, March 8, 2013, at 7 PM PST/ 10 PM EST on The Look 24/7. It will be available for download on Monday, March 11, 2013, on iTunes and Geeky Pleasures.

A copy of this book was provided for the purposes of this review.

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