Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Meetings

If ever there was a fall day, it's this one. The sun is shining and it's a little warm, but there's a stiff breeze blowing that holds the first whispers of winter. Every couple of minutes I hear it whistle outside my window, accompanied by the skittering of leaves as they're strewn haphazardly across the world.

It was on a day like this when I first met Drizzt Do'Urden.

Those of you who read fantasy are no doubt familiar with the dark elf who turned his back on a life of evil and instead dedicated himself to the light. R.A. Salvatore created him back in the late 80s, I believe, and gave us one of fantasy's most popular heroes.

I discovered Drizzt during my freshman year of college. Over the summer Devan had introduced me to epic fantasy in the form of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. Coupled with Tolkien's masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it was enough to spark my interest in a world of reading that I hadn't really explored.

I remember buying my first Drizzt book, The Legacy of the Drow at Waldenbooks in Tanglewood Mall. It was an omnibus edition that held four books and it seemed like a bargain at $20. The illustration on the cover was badly done, but I looked past that long enough to try it out. Salvatore's world was unlike anything I'd ever read before and a bit confusing at first, but I found myself hooked inside of a dozen pages.

I don't usually find a great deal of depth in Salvatore's novels. They tend to deliver hard hitting, rollicking fantasy adventures laced with heavier themes that may or may not be picked up at the reader's leisure. His characters are vibrant and fun, particularly his dwarves. And let me tell you that no one writes dwarves like Salvatore.

His dwarves are hard drinking, hard living, hard fighting heroes that are comic just because they're so over the top. These guys are the friends you want to have because there is no doubting where you stand with them. They are what they are and they revel in it.

Bethany and I had our first date after Christmas that year. There was a movie out that I wanted to see, The Last Samurai and it was playing only in one theater in Roanoke. We made it over there in time to take a detour by the mall to stop at Waldenbooks to pick up The Cleric Quintet, another omnibus of five books set in Drizzt's world. I had a little money saved, enough to take her out to the movies and to purchase a new book. I'm willing to bet that Bethany doesn't remember buying that book, but I do. (And before you chime in about the lack of romance inherent in taking a date to the bookstore, I can also tell you what she wore, what theater we were in and where we sat. So there.)

Salvatore has been a heavy part of my fall reading since that year. It seems almost a tradition now that he publishes a new novel, somehow related to Drizzt, ever October. It was the next year that The Hunter's Blades trilogy came out and I found myself once more traveling down an autumn road with Drizzt with the wind at our backs, scimitar in hand, daring any enemy that had the nerve to challenge us.

It was great to see that Salvatore published another Drizzt tale again this fall. It was even better to realize that my forays into The Wheel of Time, and A Song Of Ice and Fire had caused me to miss a Drizzt novel. So now I have to play a little catch up and see if I can make it to the newest novel before October ends.

And a day like today is perfect for reading.

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