Good things come in trilogies and, in most cases, the second of the series is the best…Streams of Silver is perhaps the zenith of the Icewind Dale trilogy. There are plenty of exciting adventures, desperate battles, horrifying monsters, devious sorcerers, dark dungeons, but most importantly, there is an element of the unknown. In the first novel, we all know the identity of the villain and what his nefarious plans are. Here, the companions, and the readers, have no idea what to expect, what horrible discovery they will make once they reach their destination. However, this book is more than just swashbuckling and dungeon exploring. We gain an insight into the mind of Drizzt, the mental conflicts and emotional sacrifices he must endure to uphold his principles. Even though there isn’t a neatly wrapped conclusion by the end, this book is proof that sometimes the journey is better than the destination!
The series continues with Bruenor, Wulfgar, Drizzt and Regis embarking on a quest to discover the doom that befell Bruenor’s ancestral home, Mithral Hall. Many difficulties face the companions, not the least of which is the dwarf’s inability to recollect even the approximate location of this underground kingdom, where precious mithril is so abundant that it flows in streams along the walls. Regis, on the other hand, is pursued by a deadly bounty-hunter intent on collecting his gem, and his head. The companions also attract the attention of a devious wizard of the Hosttower of the Arcane Brotherhood for their previous involvement with the crystal Crenshinibon. Along the way, the companions must deal with hordes of monsters, including trolls, ghostly unicorn, giant worm, bog monsters, even a banshee, but yet the assassin and his cohorts are ever their greatest threat. Once they rediscover Mithral Hall, they must be prepared to face its terrifying secret.
Of course, the essence and the main attraction of Dungeons & Dragons are the dungeons themselves, where rich treasures await discovery and monsters may lurk around every corner. For me, the most exciting part of the Lord of the Rings, indeed of any fantasy, is Moria. There is much of Moria here. There is the central plot that the dwarves had delved too deep and unwittingly released a dormant horror. Then there is the companions’ effort to solve a puzzle to open a hidden door and gain the entrance to the underground passage, and the climactic confrontation at a bridge over a chasm which leads to the exit from the mines. This is perhaps RA Salvatore’s nod to his inspiration (he admitted that reading Tolkien had led to his interest in the genre). Nevertheless, there are much that are original here, and the plot is seldom predictable.
Of interest is the exploration of Drizzt’s emotional depths. That he has refuted the ways of his people is clear, but here we also get to appreciate the emotional cost of his decision. There would come a time when the pain of his rejection by the surface world because of his dark elf heritage becomes unbearable. As Drizzt struggles to reconcile with his decision, he will need to draw on the support of his friends and on an unlikely source. Bruenor’s conflict is also highlighted. All his life he has longed to return to the home of his childhood, of which he is the rightful king, yet he may need to realize that his true home belongs with the friends he has made.
Overall, this is an exciting buddy road adventure with strong character development that makes it much more well-rounded than it otherwise would be.
Originally posted March 14, 2003 on Amazon.com