Glacier's Edge: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
From New York Times best-selling author R. A. Salvatore comes the follow-up to Starlight Enclave and thrilling second novel in his newest trilogy, The Way of the Drow, expanding the Forgotten Realms through the adventures of Drizzt, Catti-brie, Jarlaxle, Artemis Entreri, and Zaknefein…and a society of drow unlike one any elf from Menzoberranzan could possibly imagine.
There’s a lot that Jarlaxle doesn’t know: Is he the lone survivor of the raid on the slaad fortress, can he even find a way to get out, and beyond his immediate predicament, could he possibly escape the ice caverns and get help for his friends?
However, what Jarlaxle does know is that if he plans to come back—if Catti-brie, Entreri, and Zaknafein are to have any hope of surviving—he’s going to have to bring back far more firepower. An army of aevendrow seems unlikely, so he must go home and pull together a team with great skill and unimaginable power.
But how will he get home? Will such a collection of warriors and mages come to his aid? And even if he manages all that, will it be enough? For Jarlaxle has seen the slaadi’s power and their god in a most personal and terrifying way.
Trapped in the ice while the world is on fire, Jarlaxle is in a race against time—and burdened with a magical secret—to save a peaceful city and his companions.
And he’s running out of tricks in his bag of holding…
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|Listening Length||13 hours and 43 minutes|
|Author||R. A. Salvatore|
|Audible.ca Release Date||August 09 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #6,401 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#245 in TV, Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction
#259 in Action & Adventure Fantasy
#455 in Epic Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
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The most amusing part for me were the italian words that RAS has used as aevendrow language words such as biancorso (bianco - orso white bear in italian) and the best of them, the Callidaeian sport called cazzcalcio (made out of cazzo and calcio words)
Calcio is the italian word for soccer and cazzo.... well... it is a coloquial word for the penis.....
expand on the Drow. I really love the characters and the potential new ones. The biggest problem I have is waiting for the third book to see whete this story will end up.
Glacier's Edge however is not without its merits. Overall, the technical writing is better than in Starlight Enclave. The instances of what I've dubbed "Salvatorisms" (Salvatore’s frequent repetitious negative writing quirks) are reduced. Furthermore, there are a number of clever and/or poignant turns of phrase. While there are also some writing decisions that don't quite hit the mark, at the very least those that fall short indicate an effort that was made. Another positive is a few proper and accurate references to the canon lore of the shared world and/or references to situations not written in a Drizzt novel. Examples include the reinforcement that female drow are as a whole larger than male drow and the allusion to Shakti Hunzrin's time double-dealing as a dual priestess of both Lolth and Vhaeraun. Finally, Gromph Baenre also remains true to form, giving the readers some new insight on the extent of his hubris.
Glacier's Edge’s coverage of the civil war brewing in Menzoberranzan for the last two years is lazy. The drow of Menzoberranzan suddenly display a capacity for characteristics other than treachery, which has often been true outside of the Drizzt books, but within them the Lolthite drow have always been pretty one-note. The way that they're portrayed now feels very artificial, as if the author just felt like changing his mind. In some cases, characters deviate from how they’d previously behaved and are no longer who they were, with no explanation. "No explanation" isn't altogether accurate, as WotC's direction regarding a whole city of good drow and the clarification that existing drow are not fundamentally evil played a part. This isn't a bad change, however the way that it's executed in Glacier's Edge requires a crane to be brought in in order to help us suspend that much disbelief. For instance, Dinin, Drizzt’s returned older brother now known as Dininae, feels like an entirely new character. The old Dinin was egocentric, cruel, and ruthlessly opportunistic. He murdered his older brother in cold blood without hesitation or remorse, and killed countless other drow in Menzoberranzan. In short, he was shown to be clearly evil. The Dinin that was brought back from the Abyss and de-driderified is shown as having a proclivity towards caring for others. At one point he literally throws himself between a friend he recently met and a blade. I don't dislike this change for Dinin, but its implementation is very poorly thought out. Dinin spent hundreds of years in the Abyss as a drider, serving Lolth’s whims and, as we’re told in Glacier’s Edge, being tormented by demons. While a traumatic life experience can lead to a personality revamp, RAS repeatedly tells us that life as a drider was a constant state of pain, emotional and physical. We also are told that it stays as bad as it was on the first day as it is on the last, therefore Dinin didn’t learn empathy there. He was in House Baenre for two years with the other Blaspheme between after Relentless and this book, and that’s an unlikely place to teach him this new personality. He's now a great warrior, when in times past he was average at best. Another drow subject to this sudden character change is Saribel Xorlarrin/Baenre/Do'Urden. The youngest and weakest of the female children of Zeerith Xorlarrin made up for her shortcomings with cruelty. She was the perfect match for rash and brazen Tiago, whom she married and managed to hold in check. It wasn’t by sheer luck that Saribel outlived her husband, as she facilitated his demise, yet, in Glacier’s Edge, she shows herself to be kind, even considerate and sociable. Again, I don't inherently object to the change, but it's so radical and unexplained that it stands out like a clown at a black-tie affair. The Menzoberranzanyr drow are all suddenly empathic, and this is taken too far, too quickly. What makes it worse is that even with these changes, they're still presented as inferior to the Callidaen drow. Drizzt finds his ultimate validation at Callidae and Dab'nay is not good enough for Zaknafein despite the two sharing far more chemistry in one interaction than Zak has with Azzudonna in total.
The time spent in Callidae or with its people is shorter than in the last book, however that does not make either more endearing. RAS seems so utterly convinced about the perfection of his newest toys that he’s oblivious to immensely glaring issues that pop up. The Callidaens’ behaviors, beliefs and practices are the same as those of egomanical, xenophobic and borderline narcissistic people, but because it’s Callidae none of those characteristics could possibly be true (wink wink). It's more than that the city apparently has the same plot armor enshrouding Drizzt, as RAS further twists the characters that we’ve known into things that we no longer recognize. Jarlaxle, who has been portrayed as arrogant and incredibly self-confident, apparently has always felt there was something wrong with him. Luckily Callidae is there for him to purify his “drowness”. Entreri would now accept death or eternal torture in the cocoon rather than "betray" Callidae by revealing the secret of its existence. Before, it was just Drizzt who would totally revamp the character of people around him simply by getting them into his supercilious aura of pseudo-sainthood. Now, there's an entire city of forty thousand people that has the same effect. If anything, the influence of Callidae is greater and worse in Glacier’s Edge than in Starlight Enclave, which is sickly impressive given that less than one third of the book takes place in and around Callidae.
In Glacier's Edge the geothermal caverns that are responsible for the city’s survival in the arctic north are under attack. Of course, these caverns were unheard of in the millennia of Callidae's existence, the aevendrow only realizing how their city managed to be warm and habitable amidst a deadly environment when Jarlaxle brought it up in the last book. The crystals that make heat have no precedent in FR history despite the attempt in the previous book to make it seem like they've always been a part of the Underdark. The magical crystals are being eaten by polar worms, so the Callidaens drill holes from above into these caves and send small teams to deal with the polar worm infestation. It's very dangerous work, made worse because all the Callidaens apparently lack darkvision. There are many scenes of these expeditions fraught with peril, and when survivors are pulled up from the searing depths, they do not escape the horror of the situation, as they're surrounded by those others who are gravely injured from their own sojourns below. Yet despite the vast amount of injuries and casualties, to say nothing about the inherent trials of engaging in this kind of wide scale expedition in the arctic north, the Callidaens expend great effort to haul up every polar worm they kill, to show that they're such good and moral people who won’t allow the bodies of their enemies to go to waste. The thing is, while implying that every worm is harvested, RAS conveniently forgets how he painstakingly hammered into us that it's sooo dangerous to go into these "breathless rooms" and what a great risk the Callidaens are taking. What kind of people put in such incredibly impractical amounts of effort to show that they're good and moral, subjecting their supposed friends and kin to even greater risks? While RAS makes the characters' mouths flap out lavish accolades upon Callidae, the clear hypocrisy shows that they are people who care more about facades than the actual well-being of their citizenry.
Further, I can’t believe that none of the characters realize that the mindset, "I would rather let these people I care about a lot die than reveal my home's secret existence", is unfriendly and hostile. A city is a place, and a home is no home without its people. A people who willingly throw away the lives of others, especially those they consider “friends” aren't a people worth protecting. Yet this is the belief that Azzudonna and all the Callidaens hold. On numerous occasions, various Callidaens, including their leader, mourn the loss of their "dear friends”, who aren't dead at all, but they don't bother to ascertain their true fate. It seems very likely that the Callidaens will be forced to change their perspective in the third book, as this trilogy's entire purpose is to introduce this alternate drow origin story and to force them into the rest of the world. While this might be the goal, it doesn't matter if Callidaens treat their guests like royalty, if they do what they do to them upon departure. The whole memory erasure practice is a convenient way to explain how Callidae was unknown all this time, but with a bit of thought it becomes clear how that it is deeply problematic. Erasing memories is akin to erasing a person, or at least a part of that person. It’s accurate to describe the practice that Callideans engage in as "mind rape". This becomes even less palatable when it's revealed that the practice is imprecise, and that despite having done it for centuries, the Callideans can't exactly control which memories are erased; it's not sufficient that they violate you by taking away parts of your mind, they also take away things that have no relation to them at all. This sort of appropriation can’t be represented as positive. After mind raping Jarlaxle, he is released in the arctic northland. His benevolent captors didn’t leave him high and dry, they graciously filled his pack with their delicacy, the inimitable dried persimmons, muskox cheese and ice wine combination. No doubt this is to illustrate how kind and considerate the Callidaens are, but food can trigger recollections, with smell and taste bringing to mind memories that we’d long forgotten, buried, or lost. Even if we fail to remember the details of the memory, a smell can invokes a sense of nostalgia or a taste can make us feel inexplicably comforted, relaxed and can trigger something within us. This is why that scene in the movie Ratatouille, when the ruthless food critic Anton Ego is thrown back into his boyhood when he takes one bite of the dish Remy serves him, is so poignant and relatable. While they are obsessed with their secrecy to an inhumane degree, the Callidaens sure are careless, even missing Jarlaxle carving giant bloody letters into the sole of his foot. With the way that the narrative is, it's difficult to conclude anything other than that the Callidaens are actually quite evil and so un-self-aware that they don’t even notice.
RAS can't claim ignorance about the memory problem either, as one of the plotlines is whether Azzudonna is to be subjected to the mind flayer hivemind to uncover what's missing from Jarlaxle's memories. That violation is so great that even Kimmuriel is reluctant to bring her there, as he knows that forcibly tampering with her memory could wholly destroy her. Kimmuriel reveals that even when he'd willingly submitted himself to the hivemind's treatment that it was an experience so traumatic that it haunts him to this day. Can we really judge which is worse, between going through someone's memories and deleting parts of someone's memories? Especially when the latter situation involves essentially deleting important people in one's life? The Callidaens are ok with sending Jarlaxle away after having removed his memories of what befell three key people in his life: Zak and Entreri, both of whom are big parts of his life, and the wife of his idol. They are content to leave him with these people cut away from him, If you had to forsake the people dearest to you via the erasure of your memories, would it be more likely that those doing the erasure would become your enemies or people that you'd lay down all else to protect? According to Glacier's Edge, the latter is the "correct" answer, which should emphasize all that is ridiculous about Callidae.
I doubt RAS wanted to make Callidae and its people pretty freaking horrible, but he also made several terrible conscious decisions. First is another round of erasures and misrepresentations of FR lore. Although Glacier's Edge is one of the few Drizzt books (3 iirc) that mention Eilistraee by name despite her being an immense part of drow history, gets who she is and what she represents wrong. The deity that the paladin Galathae reveres is none other than the Dark Maiden, but despite being her follower, Galathae doesn't seem to know what her own goddess is about. She seems to believe that Eilistraee is primarily a nature deity who shares a portfolio with Mielikki. In reality, while summarizing Callidae can be done in a paragraph, the same isn’t true of Eilistraee. She is best known for providing comfort and solace to the drow after they'd been cursed to the Underdark. Few Drizzt readers know that, in fact, drow were never inherently evil, and good drow have always existed in established lore. Lolth was once named Araushnee, and was the wife of Corellon, the god of all elves. However, craving power, Araushnee attempted to kill her husband and other members of the elven pantheon. When she failed, Corellon could not kill her because he still loved her, so instead he banished her and her followers. Araushnee became Lolth and the elves who aided her became the drow. Lolth’s daughter Eilistraee was tricked into the scheme by her mother, but chose to take on the curse of the drow even after being forgiven. Despite the millennia of Lolth’s suppression, Eilistraee stood fast for the drow. Her song could be felt by the lowest rogue male to the highest matron mother, but Lolth taught the drow to distrust the warmth and comfort Eilistraee brought them. Regardless, Eilistraee was always there to encourage the drow to seek a different path, reaching out and guiding those who sought to escape the Spider Queen. Eilistraee taught beauty in all things, and though she guided drow back to the surface, she never willed them to change what they were nor disagreed if they wished to stay below. Eilistraee is and has always been so much more natural and beautiful than a contrived secret civilization could ever be.
It would have made more sense had Drizzt been guided by Eilistraee, as she certainly would’ve allowed him to hear her song, and she would've actively worked to help him get to the surface. However, because the existence of Eilistraee and her followers made Drizzt less unique, she only appeared in the Drizzt novels to assert how she and her followers failed and to misrepresent her. In public interviews, RAS claims that the reason for his leaving Eilistraee out is due to his dislike of religion, a rhetoric conveys in Starlight Enclave with befuddled, inconsistent, and hypocritical results. In Glacier's Edge, he continues with this rhetoric. He makes people of religion appear as unthinking and easily manipulated tools in a way that is reminiscent of a small child throwing a tantrum. The child screams about how they're not a certain way (in this case, religious), so as to validate another tenuous clause. In this case, it’s Entreri's “redemption” via the threat of the cocoon of endless torment. RAS is so keen on justifying the cocoon episode that Glacier's Edge subjects Drizzt to quick change by trauma as well. Drizzt's experience is every bit as inappropriate as Entreri's, with problems in both who directs it and how it is conceived. Kane tells Drizzt that the gnolls have abducted a brother from the monastery as well as Brie, going so far as to imitate Brie's cries from deep within the gnolls' lair. This desperate situation is supposed to help Drizzt combine his Hunter mode and his monk training. While it is successful, Kane has to rouse Drizzt from a craze in which he believed he stood over the mangled corpse of his daughter. Apparently RAS didn't get the memo that like the drow, gnolls aren't all inherently evil, and had Drizzt slaughter a bunch of people whom neither had his daughter nor the monk. The justification that Kane gave for the exercise is that Drizzt's friends need him in a short amount of time and that he wouldn't be able to fulfill his duties. However, as things worked out, Drizzt didn't need that ability anyway, even less than Kane needed to sacrifice himself, as Pikel wields powers from 2e and broke all D&D mechanics between then and now to defeat Ygorl. There are several issues with this entire confabulation: first, Kane is the leader of an order that reveres Ilmater, who is literally the incarnation of compassion, existing to help other avoid and endure suffering. One of Ilmater's primary champions should not be inflicting suffering even as a means to an end. Especially when that end is questionable, as traumatic experiences can have unpredictable outcomes, which are rarely, if ever, worthwhile.
A lot of the negative aspects that had briefly improved in the recent books regress to their old states, which we haven't seen for several books. The objectification of female characters is back, made even more disgusting by male characters being put in the same scenarios but treated wholly differently. The handling of some male characters is not any better, as Dinin's worth is measured by only his prowess in battle and bed. The sexualization of sapphic interactions is back, and to make it worse, it's used in a rape scenario. That's not all, the sapphic sex is positioned in such a way that it’s contrasted against a “wholesome” heterosexual sex scene. There's over-the-top NO HOMO posturing about Jarlaxle’s sexuality with profuse explanation when anything vaguely resembling intimacy between him and another male character occurs. At the same time female characters are casually hugging and kissing each other without similarly attached explanations.
It would not be a RAS book without some, “boo hoo, I don’t deserve to be the whipping boy of fantasy”, crying and truly pitifully transparent likening of his critics to the gnolls that Drizzt brutally and indiscriminately massacres. The hinting that Drizzt is as good as Grandmaster Kane followed by the totally unnecessary sacrifice of the old monk puts Drizzt at newer heights of Mary Sueness, but who’s surprised by that anymore? Oh, for you old school D&D players, no you didn't remember incorrectly, Qadeej was not a primordial and was in fact one of the bad guys in The Rod of Seven Parts.
All in all, Glacier's Edge is just sloppy and poorly thought out. The amount of self-inconsistency (apparently udadrow also lack darkvision now) and disrespect of material in its own franchise is enough to sink the book even without taking into account the middle finger it puts up towards outside content. It's very apparent that the overall amount of effort being put into these books is on a steep decline, but I guess that it doesn't matter since there will always be those fanbois who can't tell that "irregardless" isn't a real word and will continue to give them 5 stars. The reality however is that these books retain problematic archaic themes and tropes in a setting that seeks to embrace progressive mindsets. It's not that I want RAS and his books to fail, I want him to do better, to properly reflect the direction the world is moving in today and to give the future generation of readers what they deserve.
Just push through that. Trust me. It gets better. Once we finally get to Drizzt and Jaraxle and the companions of the hall it really picks up.
Man Kane. Grandmaster of flowers. Ygorl. Callidae. Wow. Just wow. Oh, one more thing, Azzuduna is a coward and useless. That's my only critique beside the 30% bs first part of this book.
Bob: please focus on the above ground people. If you want to write an ugly backstabbing Menzoberranzan book keep it separate from the companions of the hall. There's enough negativity and magats in the world, I could care less about magat central- Menzoberranzan.
70% of the book is awesome. Just push through the first 30 percent crap.