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But the master is at work, as always, and even if it's not my farovite of Salvatore's work, it's worth a read.
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I say this because I agree with what some other reviewers have said, in that completing all those other stories before reading this one really enriches the experience.
As a standalone story, it still holds up pretty well, but there are a lot of gears working and webs upon webs that have been built upon since those earlier books. References and minor callbacks abound aplenty and if you have been keeping up it all culminates into one amazing experience. I enjoy this new iteration of companions, and they edge out Drizzt's most recent companions just a bit in terms of team cohesion and the sense that they belong together. Though I must say, Entreri is one of my favorite characters and his growing bond with Drizzt in the recent novels has me excited.
Let's cut to the chase though: this is just another novel of R. A. Salvatore's brand of story telling. If you have tried his other works and not enjoyed his style of storytelling, than you probably won't like this one either. But the characterization is strong, the dialogue, and interaction is believable and enjoyable as well. The fighting scenes are as they have always been, as some have said here they're not ever too exciting as they maintain the form that he has always used (i.e Drizzt unsheaths his scimitars faster than you could blink, oh my he's twirling them in circles, his deadly dance using both hands as if they were controlled separately, rolling under his foe's spear on one side, parrying on the other.) That's not to say there isn't some interesting battles. Though he uses some of his lines a lot, like his use of the word almost. This leads to another, albeit not that big of a deal, criticism. He really does use a lot of the same descriptions over and over especially when describing how cruel the drow are, how strong someone is, how amazing Drizzt is; while it does get tired if you notice it, it doesn't really impede the story too much as a whole. Though mentioning Regis' desire to __________ a gajillion (hyperbole) times wasn't that great.
The best part, in my opinion, is how he manages to weave a story of intrigue and deception, and how he manages to tie together many plot lines and have them come to fruition all at once. Some may not enjoy the constant switching of perspectives, but I at least never felt lost and I feel it allows Salvatore to keep his multifaceted plot trucking.
In conclusion: this novel feels as if it's still a part of the build up toward a bigger event, but it still entertains as the pieces on the board fall into place. 5 stars if you've kept up with the story; probably 3.5 stars if you're reading this as a standalone.
First, my greater concern: last Salvatore novels, I've felt that combat becomes a filler of sorts. While reading "Night of the Hunter", several times I found myself wanting to skip the fights and continue with the juicy story and character development plots. It all began with the second Neverwinter novel, and I think what made "The Companions" such a great novel is, precisely, the lack of combat narrative and focus on character. It happened the same with "The Spine of the World", one of Salvatore's must underestimated works.
As for "Night of the Hunter" itself, it continues where "The Companions" left of. In the world of The Sundering, the reunited Companions of the Hall have a new quest, and while they are at it, they get to know each other, again. Because they are the same people, but they have changed. And this character evolution is one of the best parts of what began with "The Companions".
The story carries a few narrative arcs at the same time, and we get to know what happened to Drizzt's temporal party, whom left him to his death in the frozen cliffs of Icewind Dale. In Menzoberranzan, Gromph Baenre gets back to action, something we were waiting for since "The War of the Spider Queen", and what he does sets the foundation for the return of a formidable enemy. The drow from Gauntlgrym are still around, stronger than ever and still obsessed with Drizzt, which will deliver doom for anyone barely related with Mielikki's favoured ranger. And yes, good old One-Eyed Jax is back!
Dungeons & Dragons players will recognize the reason why drow are so prominent in this book. If you played the "Rise of the Underdark" D&D Encounters event, "Night of the Hunter" takes us to the backstage of the Darkening. While we are all aware that Salvatore is unaware of the way his characters are depicted in the official D&D products -because he just stomped all over the "Neverwinter Campaign Setting"-, it will be interesting to see the way he ties the Companions Codex saga with the power struggle amongst the goddesses.
This one gripped me from the very beginning and had several very interesting twists through out it including the very end. It also has a healthy dose of one of my favorite races, the Drow.
Although it mainly references the more recent Drizzt tales in the 'Neverwinter series', this one felt more like the Drizzt of old, and I think that's just what this series needed.
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