I have known R.A. Salvatore for more than a decade.
He is a great friend, one of my best in the field. He is also one of the best damn writers working today. The man is responsible for one of the most beloved characters in all of fantasy, Drizzt Do’Urden, and he’s put his dark elf through more fights, battles, and mischief than most characters ever get a chance to—that readers ever get a chance to read!
This week, The Companions published. It is the new Drizzt novel, but one very different from those that have come before it—a perfect place for new readers to try this fantastic character for the first time!
Here is a bit more about it first:
“THE COMPANIONS is the best novel [R.A.] Salvatore has ever written. It’s insanely courageous, profoundly powerful, masterfully constructed, and easily Salvatore’s most ambitious work to date.” — Paul Goat Allen, BarnesandNoble.com
“After a quarter of a century, R.A. Salvatore just keeps getting better and better, and THE COMPANIONS is another masterful leap forward for one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time.” — Philip Athans, best-selling author of Annihilation and The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff
This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore’s beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore’s signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt’s fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life–the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.
I decided to interview R.A. Salvatore about this new book. The Q&A is below!
Unbound Worlds: The Companions is your new Drizzt novel. Tell us a bit about it and how it fits within the current Forgotten Realms?
R.A. Salvatore: The Companions kicks off the Sundering, which pretty much is the new Forgotten Realms. The Sundering is a world-wide event, and six authors are doing books to explain how that event is changing their corners of the world, and how it is affecting their characters. What we’re really going for is that clean and fresh feeling of the old gray boxed set, a reset that is also a logical continuation of the story lines which preceded the event. So far, judging from the comments I’m seeing, we’re on track!
UW: Drizzt has been with you for a very long time, a companion in his own right. How do you feel about your long-time friend now after these many years?
RAS: Like he’s a long-time friend. I don’t know how else to explain it. Drizzt has been with me since 1987, and with many of my readers since 1988. I know him so well that there’s no way I could write him out of characters, and my readers know him so well that if he was acting out of character in a book, they would recognize that there was something wrong, something going on behind the scenes that they haven’t quite discerned yet. It’s pretty amazing to see a character, or a group of characters, get to this point with an author and his readers.
One other note, many of the early reviews of The Companions are rolling in from people who haven’t ever read a Drizzt book before. That’s a good thing, because it fits right in with what we’re trying to do with the Realms and the Sundering. It will also give me a good gauge on how accessible this series remains. I’ve always tried to write the Drizzt books more like Sherlock Holmes or James Bond than Wheel of Time or some of the other more “epic” fantasy series. You should be able to pick up any Drizzt book and enjoy the adventure.
UW: How do you know where to take Drizzt next when you finish writing a book?
RAS: There’s so much going on in the Realms right now, and with these characters of mine that I feel almost as I did back in the earliest days of the world. So many areas are in conflict that needs resolution, and so many other areas will need grand redefinition going forward. The playground is open again, with all new toys!
UW: You are doing a Kickstarter right now that is pretty bad ass. Tell Unbound Worlds readers about it!
RAS: DemonWars. DemonWars is my Middle Earth, my Shannara, my Forgotten Realms. I’ve done 11 books there and really want to do some more. Now my son and I have created a tabletop pen&paper role-playing game for that world, with its gemstone magic and elf-trained rangers, bloody-capped powries, and Abellican monks. The system works beautifully – my gaming group has been playing since January and has no intention of looking back – and adds a new dimension to the standard RPGs, one that I believe makes group combat more engaging and always has you paying attention, even when someone else has stepped up to smack a powrie, or to get smacked by a giant. The concept of a “round” has been opened up, simply and elegantly, by allowing players to take actions throughout the combat sequence – it almost sems like playing a real-time game embedded with the “turn” system.
The kickstarter (find it HERE) is funding pretty strongly right now – I expect we’ll make the goal and then some. If that’s the case, DemonWars comes roaring back as a living, breathing world, and I anticipate many more game products – modules, new classes to represent the heroic archetypes in DemonWars – and novels set in that world. It’s a challenge, though, because many of my Drizzt readers have never looked at DemoNWars before, but the ones who have are very excited by this and are pulling the others over.
UW: What are you currently working on and when can we expect it?
RAS: Right now I’m working on the kickstarter (it’s a ton of work – lining up artists and such, updating those participating). Projects like this are very interactive by design – that’s why I’m having so much fun with it!
I’m also writing, of course. My next Forgotten Realms book, my sequel to The Companions, comes out in March, 2014. It’s called The Night of the Hunter and it’s almost through the editing process. So I’m blasting through next summer’s Forgotten Realms sequel – I’ve got a war to fight!
The Companions by R.A. Salvatore is in fine bookstores now!
Let the Sundering begin!