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Homeland – Book Review

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            From the mind of RA Salvatore comes Homeland. Homeland is the very first book in the epic series of the Legend of Drizzt. Following the life of Drizzt, Homeland, of course starts, with the beginning of his life. Around every corner in the depths of the Underdark is another reason to question his life among the Drow, the dark elves; the murderous kin of their high-elven brethren. To live in Menzoberranzan is to live with a knife in your back.

            Drizzt was born during a raid on another ruling house in the city, and has violet eyes, unlike any of his kin. He is about to be sacrificed to the dark elves’ vile deity, Lolth, the Spider-Queen, as is tradition for the third male child of a family. Luckily, during the raid, his eldest brother, Nalfein, is killed by his other brother, Dinin. Vierna, Drizzt’s youngest sister, sensed this through a mental link she made with Dinin. Vierna then stopped the ceremony, saving Drizzt’s life.

            For interrupting a ceremony of Lolth, Matron Malice punishes her daughter by forcing her to raise Drizzt. When he is old enough, his father, Zaknafien, then trains him. Zaknafien is the weapons master for House Do’Urden, and the best swordsman in the Underdark. He trains Drizzt to use dual scimitars, but also in morals. A drow’s perception of justice is twisted and perverted. Justice to a drow can be anything from a simple nod to a knife in the back. They have no perception of right and wrong.

            Zaknafien teaches Drizzt the true meaning of justice, enforcing the difference between right and wrong within the young elf. He teaches Drizzt for several years until Drizzt’s skill with a blade is unrivaled to none other than his father.

            After his training with Zak, Drizzt is sent to the Academy of Menzoberranzan, consisting of three schools: the school of Sorcere for sorcerers; the school of Arach-Tinilith for priests; and Melee-Magthere for the fighters, where Drizzt is to go first. He spends several years in the Academy, four in Melee Magthere, four in Sorcere to learn to fight sorcerers, and three in Arach-Tinilith to learn the ways of Lolth. The whole time in the Academy, the instructors are forcing perverted visions of the world into the drows’ minds. In those seven years, Drizzt’s principles never wavered. In fact, these perverted teachings only strengthened his resolve. He will leave Menzoberranzan.

            In Sorcere, he came across a wizard with an intriguing trinket. When the owner of the trinket calls out “Guenhwyvar,” a large, Black Panther is summoned from the spirit realm. The creature immediately enchants Drizzt, and a bond forms between the two.

            A ten-day after his lessons in the Academy, Drizzt is sent to patrol the borders of the elven kingdom for five years. Luckily for Drizzt, the young wizard with Guenhwyvar is also assigned to his unit. Drizzt and the great cat often would lead the scouting party.

            Soon after his deployment, a surface raid is organized by the drow. The purpose: an all out slaughter of a high-elven village. Drizzt is chosen to lead the party, much to his dismay. When they arrive at the surface, they begin the raid. Innocent elves are being slain all around Drizzt.

             One elven girl runs to Drizzt for help, after seeing her mother slain before her eyes. Drizzt covers her in blood, and commands her to lie and stay down. This is the only elf to survive the raid. Drizzt did not partake in the massacre.

            His failure in the raid sends his family out of the favor of Lolth. To try to regain Lolth’s favor, Malice sacrificed her husband, Zaknafien. When Drizzt returned to Menzoberranzan, he saw his father’s corpse on the floor by Malice’s feet. His sisters and brothers gathered around Drizzt, and attempted to capture him and make him the new weapons master. But Drizzt was faster than them all.

            He pulled out a magical trinket, a ball made of pure light. He threw this and broke it, releasing the light into the room, and blinding the light-sensitive eyes of the drow. But Drizzt was prepared. By the time the others had recovered, Drizzt was already riding out of the vile city.

            As he left the city, he encountered two drow; one, Masoj Hun’ett; the other, Alton DeVir. Masoj held a grudge against Drizzt for having such a close bond to his cat, Guenhwyvar. Alton held also held a grudge, but that against Drizzt’s House for murdering his family.

            Alton began to cast a spell as Masoj summoned Guenhwyvar. Drizzt hid behind a large rock as an explosion rocked the cavern. Drizzt looked out from his cover to see a large scorch mark around where Alton had been. Also there was the statuette of Guenhwyvar. Enraged that the cat may have been hurt, Drizzt charged at Masoj: the mage teleported to the top of a large rock to get away.

            Still Drizzt charged on. He climbed to the top, while Masoj broke Drizzt fingers. Still he advanced. Masoj was the only drow Drizzt had ever killed, and he was not about to kill more.

            Drizzt recovered the statuette, and summoned the great cat. Drizzt was joyed to see the cat unharmed, and the two left the dark elf kingdom, never to return. Though the drow would be alone, he would not have to live a life that destroyed every moral in Drizzt’s mind. He would not be bound to a city of treachery. He would not lead the life his father did.

            The book ends with Guenhwyvar and Drizzt going leagues away from Menzoberranzan to live in the wilderness of the Underdark. Drizzt begins a life of Justice, protecting the weak, and advising the strong. He is a defender of the people, even if most of the people shun him due to his heritage and dark skin.

            I think the book deals a lot with the partial corruption within our own system. Of course, we don’t have to walk around scared of being killed any minute of our lives, but a lot of times, teachers try to impose their views into the minds of the children. Even in high school, the teachers often try to make the students view events in the way the teachers see fit. They don’t try to let the students see for themselves. This is best compared to the Academy of Menzoberranzan, spreading lies about the other civilizations only as a cover for them being naïve.

            I highly recommend this book for those of you who love fantasy novels. If you are interested to know more about Drizzt Do’Urden, the next book in the series is Exile, in which Drizzt and mighty Guenhwyvar battle through the mazes of the Underdark. Fare thee well!

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Homeland – Book Review