Review: The Crystal Shard

The Crystal ShardThe Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read the first trilogy before this so I got the story sequentially. This book is well written but drags too much. Like Tolkien. Bless him, but reading Tolkien is a slog through deep, thick sludge. I love Tolkien’s ideas and grand scenes, but an exciting book he did not write.

I feel similarly toward The Crystal Shard, and it seems to me that Salvatore was going for a Tolkienesque result in his first novel. Not a bad idea, by any means! A good bar to aspire to. But just as Tolkien bores me to tears, this novel dragged on and on and on… and on… and on… and on. And, I started thinking, for crying out loud, just end it already!

Every scene is twice as long as it needs to be. Maybe this is what other reviewers refer to when they describe poor writing. No, I disagree, his writing is good, but his pacing is way too slow. That’s absolutely forgivable in a first novel. But compared to the first trilogy, beginning with Homeland, it’s an almost unbearable slog, especially toward the end.

Back in 1988, this might have been okay for a Forgotten Realms novel. The character development is quite good. It’s just that, things move along at such a slow pace that the heroes are never pressured into reaction, they always have plenty of time to plan every step.

The villain was not very interesting, though his portrayal was realistic. Is that expected in an egotistic, narcissistic, megalomaniac? I think so. But was there ever any question whether he would win or not? The heroes engaged in many battles, even against a white dragon, but each encounter just made them stronger.

It’s an okay novel, but it just dragged and dragged too much, a solid 3 stars.

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