In what has become a very happy routine of getting to interview R.A. Salvatore before a book release, I was given an advance copy of The Last Threshold, the last book in the Neverwinter Saga that had started off as a trilogy before it was expanded. While the Neverwinter Saga is finished, it looks very much like Drizzt saga is going to be continuing on for at least one more book with The Companions, which kicks off The Sundering, which in turn will eventually lead toward the changes to prepare the Forgotten Realms for what will be D&D Next or Fifth Edition. While the Neverwinter Saga started off very much as a tie-in for the Neverwinter video game that has been delayed and is still in beta testing, more importantly, it developed into a reflection not only on Drizzt, but on the Forgotten Realms, the state it’s in and where the heroes of the old realms really fit in with the new one.
The Last Threshold picks up shortly after the events of Charon’s Claw, with Drizzt Do’Urden trying to figure out a way to keep the haphazard party he assembled together with Dahlia, the elf he took as a lover, Afafrenfere, a monk tasked with killing the drow elf, Abergris, the dwarven cleric who stopped the monk and has charmed Drizzt with her peculiar wit, and a former enemy and assassin, Artemis Entreri. To get Artemis to go along with his plan, Drizzt infers he knows the location of a specific dagger, which after losing Charon’s Claw, highly interests the assassin. Dahlia has developed feelings for Drizzt, who is conflicted about the whole affair, but she wants to come along. So they set out for Port Llast, a seaside town under siege by Sahuagin, who are being pushed by an evil sea god. Drizzt ultimately wants to restore a bit of hope to the region and he and his group go to town cleaning up the fish-man mess a bit, forcing them back and helping to establish another secondary wall to give the townsfolk some more breathing room and space to expand. The Sahuagin mostly come out at night. Mostly.
Realizing they have other issues, like competing with other ports like Luskan, which is now run by pirates, and a serious lack of manpower to defend the wall, Drizzt uses some diplomacy to reach out to former farmers turned bandits he first encountered in the earlier books, and arranges to offer them amnesty and a place to stay in Port Llast for a bit of work to smooth things over. It’s at this point Drizzt realizes he needs to solidify things with Luskan if Llast is to survive for any length of time. While their improvements will keep out the fish-men with guards and catapults, a full on pirate invasion could shatter the work he and his group have managed to accomplish.
There’s more going on behind the scenes however. The wizard Draygo Quick is still very much interested in Drizzt and believes him to be one of the chosen of a god, but he’s not sure if it’s the forest god or the spider queen that is championing him. He sends Dahlia’s disfigured and discarded son, Effron, out to keep an eye on things, telling him to not get involved and merely observe, but like that threat has ever kept anyone with a massive grudge from acting. Draygo has another spy working for him, however; Drizzt’s panther Guenhwyvar, who he’s trapped in a cage to keep her from going back to the astral plane so he can see through her eyes.
Aside from the problems from Draygo, Drizzt has been found out by Tiago Baenre and his post at Guantlgrym, and has decided that he will be the one to bring Drizzt’s head back to Menzoberranzan to basically set himself up there, as much as a male can anyway. Jarlaxle has figured out what’s what and convinces Kimmuriel to use Bregan D’aerthe to help keep Drizzt away from Tiago as it will be mutually beneficial to do so, and so Kimmuriel steers the mercenary group back to Luskan just before Drizzt arrives to set up the meet and get him out of the way.
Things never go quite according to plan, but the whole mess gives Drizzt plenty of time to think about the past and his present and where he really wants to be while all this is going on. The machinations of Jarlaxle and his dwarven companion, as well as Tiago and Draygo, really drive the other two-thirds of the book as Drizzt ends up moving from being pro-active to getting the rug dragged out from under him.
The first section of the book is very much a light-hearted adventure, as Drizzt has set his mind to getting his rag-tag group of friends to work together, and has little time to think on his past, instead focusing on fixing the wrongs of the region and actually doing something good instead of just reacting to the dangers thrust at him. The other two-thirds of the book take a very different shift in tone, as Drizzt turns his gaze more inward and begins to think of the past he never seems to be able to let go. He tries several times to give Dahlia the same advice he’d received from an elf a long while back to try and live his life in shorter segments, letting the past go and moving ahead anew, something he admits he just doesn’t seem capable of doing. While that might work for others, it just won’t work for him.
The book does a decent enough job of tying together many of the loose ends started in Gauntlgrym, some on an event level and others on a far more personal one for Drizzt and his group. There are, of course, things that don’t end nice and neat and could be carried over easily into more novels in the future, but for the most part this ends up feeling like a complete and satisfying tale, albeit with a bit of a Deus Ex Machina for our heroes, not once, but twice. All in all I enjoyed it; the banter is excellent, the fight scenes are superbly written as always, but the sense of melancholy and self-inspection by Drizzt can drag the book a bit in parts. Overall it was worth the read and is a nice ending to the Neverwinter Saga, but the ending may be a bit too ambiguous for some, especially considering the next book in the Drizzt line is due out in August as part of The Sundering event.