The Crystal Shard is the first book in the Icewind Dale trilogy and the fourth book in the Drizzt Do’Urden series (after his original trilogy, Legend of Drizzt). It is a 344 page fantasy novel set in the Forgotten Realms, a popular Dungeons and Dragons campaign verse. Although this trilogy was actually written before Drizzt’s origin trilogy, it is in fact chronologically AFTER the Legend of Drizzt trilogy by R.A. Salvatore.
This novel follows Drizzt Do’Urden, a dark elf who forsook his evil brethren in their dark home of Menzoberranzan for the cold lands of Ten-Towns, Bruenor Battlehammer, a stalwart dwarf and one of Drizzt’s only true friends, Regis the halfling, a cunning thief who owns a mysterious pendant that helps other see his point of view, and Wulfgar the barbarian, who is rescued by Bruenor after the battle of Ten-Towns.
The main plot of The Crystal Shard focuses on a wizard, Akar Kessel, and his discovery of none other than… the Crystal Shard! It is a malicious, magical Shard that gives its rightful wielder immense power. Kessel intends to use the Shard to unite all the goblins, orcs, giants, and beasties in the Icewind Dale in order to take over Ten-Towns–home of many citizens and our heroes.
Another threat to the towns are the barbarians that have been putting aside their differences in order to attack the towns and steal their wealth. While these threats are obvious to our heroes, the people of Ten-Towns will never admit something is wrong — so it is up to Regis, the cunning halfling, to try to gather the towns’ forces in order to save the people. There are, of course, character developments and fun training sessions from Drizzt, the ultimate fighter, but the majority of the novel deals with the impending battles and then the battles themselves.
What I really love about Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels is that they are so straightforward that they make for incredibly fast reads. The story is not slow paced or fast paced–it just is. The fighting is done well, it doesn’t take too long and isn’t too brief. The characterization is deep throughout the novels but not overdone. These are just solid fantasy novels about pretty typical RPG characters–a cunning and precise drow, an easy to anger and Mithral-loving dwarf, and a brutally strong and single-minded warrior. It is enjoyable and excellent at getting to the point.
If you haven’t read the Legend of Drizzt trilogy, don’t fret. This book catches you up on all the plot points and characters you missed. Although I enjoyed that series a lot, as I really loved Drizzt’s character development and homeworld, it is not necessary to read before reading The Crystal Shard. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fantasy or role playing worlds.