Drizzt Do'Urden is a Dark Elf from the drow city of Menzoberranzan. Unlike his people, Drizzt swore off evil in favor of being a hero—of sorts. He prefers friendships and adventuring over the murder and violence his people thrive upon. First appearing in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, and later in the prequel, Homeland, Drizzt has come to be one of the most popular and enduring characters of the Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter Tales series of books. Now, he appears in a new original graphic novel, The Legend of Drizzt, from IDW and Wizards of the Coast.
It's difficult to imagine Dungeons & Dragons without The Forgotten Realms, a campaign/expansion setting created by Ed Greenwood in 1967, and brought into the D&D canon fully in 1987. The setting has proven a fruitful one for players and authors alike. At least 24 books have included R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf hero, Drizzt. Few authors have contributed as much to the Dungeons & Dragons canon as Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore. I actually had the opportunity to chat with Salvatore for the SFSignal.com podcast, and we talked extensively about his Neverwinter Saga and Drizzt himself. The history and worldbuilding in that series is carried over and expanded in the comics that make up the new graphic novel.
In The Legend of Drizzt, the Dark Elf and his new companion, Dahlia, are on the hunt for a pack of Goblins who have been causing trouble for the city of Neverwinter. But when they find the Goblin's camp, the enemy has already been slaughtered. Dahlia suspects a vampire, but Drizzt is unconvinced. To his eye, the damage done to the Goblins looks like the work of a Battlerager. Together, they track a powerful undead force, but who they find isn't what either of them expected, and the trail leads them on a path that could take them into the Underdark.
Despite the buildup I've just given this book, you don't need to know or have read the Neverwinter books to get right into this story. The world and the story are set up in the very first pages, and from there, the tension mounts and Drizzt searches for answers to a new mystery: Who killed the Goblins? The answer to that leads him into a bigger mystery and adventure that feels epic in scale.
The art in this book is done by Agustin Padilla (Marvel's The Avengers, Transformers Prime), and, although detailed, isn't in that overly done style that can really turn me off. If you're a fan of the huge-muscled style you see most often in mainstream comics, you'll be disappointed here. Geno Salvatore shares a writing credit with his dad, R.A. I don't know of many father/son writing teams, but whatever they're doing, it works here. The story flows well. I'm looking forward to future installments in this series.
As a bonus, the graphic novel contains a Legend of Drizzt Dungeons & Dragons Game Adventure for 4 to 6 characters, complete with maps, and there is also a gallery of cover images from the original comics.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and Hugo-nominated Podcast producer/host and editor (2013) who lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012 and a 2013 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.