A few days back I mentioned The Crystal Shard by R. A. Salvatore, in a somewhat disparaging way.
I just finished the book, and in the end, I’m glad I did. Salvatore didn’t have a pro’s polish when he wrote this book back in 1988, but he did spin a decent yarn.
My biggest gripes with him have to do with the common stuff that new authors trip up on… characters being omniscient, and items suddenly appearing out of nowhere to help out our hero.
An example of the first: “Gillain could tell by the barbarian’s glazed stare that he’d spent the night in revelry and the throbbing in his head would cause him to move slower than his usual lightning quick reflexes would account for. It was also obvious that the grak eggs he’d eaten for breakfast had been a tad off, and his guts were cramping up, causing him to hunch over and this limiting his reach.” (OK, I exagerate a tad.)
An example of the second would be someone’s cloak catching fire at a campsite, and him dousing it in the nearby river… except that before that moment, the river was never mentioned, even though the party had been at this campsite for several pages now.
You get the idea. So that’s the bad. The good is, as I said, it was a fun story, culminating in an epic battle that was trying to be something like The Battle of Helm’s Deep. Tolkien has nothing to fear from Salvatore (or at least, from the Salvatore of 1988) but if you enjoy your sword and sorcery fiction heavy on the swords and skull-bashing, you’ll probably enjoy The Crystal Shard. I put it aside at one point and I’m glad I came back to it.
Do note, however, that it’s a D&D book and there are places where you can almost here the die being rolled. 🙂