Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Dark Elf Trilogy: Homeland life of a Dark Elf is a ‘do or die’ life indeed. They follow the beliefs of a spider goddess named Lolth. She has a thirst for chaos and quite literally is chaos incarnate. Thus dark elves are commanded to follow her ways, and her ways only. Family members kill each other to gain higher ranks within the family. This is actually the same for each individual house. In order to go higher up the ladder, the families annihilate other families. Not so unlike our own hierarchy in the work place or government- without the ‘consistent’ murder however.

There is also a difference in the roles of each male and female. The female dark elves are considered priestess, higher than males and are literally stronger than the male elves. They are also very cruel, using the males as simply for reproducing. Once they tire of them or no longer need them, they simply dispose of them, and enjoy doing so. Males are just as cruel; though it’s obvious they are dominated by the way they often cringe at the slightest mistake before a female drow or Matron. This known lifestyle is referted to as a Matriarch. In a way, it can also be referenced to the Black Widow spider. The Black widow spider and the male, mate when it’s time to breed. If that male spider isn’t quick enough to get away once he’s done, he’s doomed. She will eat him and continue on with life. Fitting for a spider goddess right?

So, the male dark elves are considered fodder, basically used as servants of the females. This lifestyle is no different for Drizzt Do’Urden and for many years of his life, he learns his place as a slave to the female dark elves. To keep their men in place, beatings were common. Even if they simply voiced an opinion or asked a question, or if they even asked a simple question, they were beaten with a snake whip. I cringed at the way Salvatore explained that detail. The teeth of the snake rip through the skin and the poison literally burns and freezes the victim. Wow, that sounds horribly painful. He explains Drizzt experiencing the same unfortunate punishment, and yet, the dark elf learned to put aside the pain in order to make it through his life.

16 y/o Drizzt by J. L. Brown

Drizzt continues through his life, learning the ways of his family and the spider goddess, Lolth. Yet, he expresses that he felt she was not the goddess for him. That while he was a drow elf, the way of his people, was not for him. His father, Zaknafein, too expressed this similar thought process early on in the book. He takes Drizzt under his wing, once he is 16, and teaches him not to fight without passion. Not to kill in cold blood as his brother and sisters often did. He taught him to fight, and well, since Zaknafien was an expert fighter.

The story goes on about Drizzt leaving to the Academy at 19 to train and become a cold blooded killer. Zaknafien is distressed that his son, who he didn’t want to follow the drow way, will return just as that. Unable to kill his child, he simply remains away while Drizzt leaves.

He returns a man, with Zak thinking the Academy’s ways have changed him to a cold blooded killer. He is especially sure this has happened, since having heard that Drizzt possibly killed a surface elf child. Drizzt is upset that his father abandoned him and literally left him alone for so long. Outraged, the two spar off, angrily in the gym room. Then, truth is revealed about Drizzt, never having killed the elf child. Zak is overjoyed, and embraces his son, glad that the horrors of the Academy could not break his passionate spirit.

Drizzt "The Early Days" by Keelerleah
Keelerleah on DA

The head of the house, Matron Malice, is not pleased as she learns Drizzt’s compassion as cost their family good ties with the Spider Queen. When Drizzt leaves one morning, in the midst of a possible war against the Do’Urden family, Malice and her three daughters, confront Zaknafein, telling him they are aware of Drizzt’s traitorous ways and want him dead. His death will appease Lolth and put their family back in good favor with her. Zak refuses to kill his son, and to appease Malice, he offers himself as a sacrifice. That’s the tear jerker there! The parent giving himself up to save the child; it’s a very true evocation of love. Even today, while parents don’t always ‘die’ to sacrifice themselves, if they truly love their child, they give up and sacrifice much to keep them happy or safe. I know it all too well.

Upon returning, Drizzt is already suspicious, asking for his father. His mother and sisters only sneer behind kind smiles, and eventually the truth is revealed when Malice tells him he is the new Weapon Master. Drizzt becomes enrage, stating he will not do it! One of his sisters’ reach for her whip to beat him, but the very angry look in his eyes literally freezes her and she actually backs down! An argument ensues and Drizzt, using one of Zak’s tactics, creates a bright light and flees. Before the light is calmed, since Drow’s can’t see in the light, he is already long gone. With a magical companion, Guenhwyvar, whom he befriended long ago, at his side; the two leave into the caves forever exiled from Menzoberranzan.

- Nida

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Prelude: Personal review and opinions by Nida Sea

The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A.Salvatore.
Drow… where do I begin? A society based on chaos; chaos against other races and chaos against each other. The drow or, dark elves, are considered a cruel race to all other races in the Realms. Their cruel and almost sadistic way of life is ingeniously explained in detail by R. A. Salvatore. His ability to convey a sense of confliction and misguidance within each drow character is amazing. The description of the brutality of the dark lives of these creatures actually makes me cringe.

I thought it almost sad that a society, while imaginary, lived this way. Then, I realized some real societies possibly similar if not completely, truly exist in our world. But, when the character Drizzt Do’Urden is introduced into the story, my heart is truly stolen! While the ways of his siblings and other kin are literally beaten into the poor leading character, it was astonishing and tearful to see that he kept to his true beliefs. This is something that almost aligns many people in their way of life today. 

He mentions his fighting spirit and skill with his twin scimitar blades to be instilled by the Weapons Master, also father, Zaknafein. This review is broken into 5 parts: One of a prelude, three of each individual book of the trilogy, and then a final conclusion of my own personal accord. I find new respect for this book and author, R. A. Salvatore, whom I’ve never read work from before until now, and only wished I, had read it sooner. Thank you.

-  Nida

Monday, March 1, 2010

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Review

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

A novel by Vonda N. McIntyre

Based on the Screen play; “The Wrath of Khan” paramount pictures film

Book                              DVD 
Images courtesy of

This book was amazing and as captivating as the movie. I feel some things, not mentioned in the movie but mentioned in the book, explained several if not all the characters better.

The first character I found that had more background story than the others was Lieutenant Saavik. McIntyre tells us about her past, how she was literally ‘thrown’ away to the wilds on a planet named Hellguard and left to fend for herself. She apparently grew up as a savage, killing for food and killing to survive. Apparently, neither of her parents laid claim to her and if they had, she would have killed the Romulan for abandoning her. Then, she would have begged the Vulcan to forgive her for being born. That’s a sad life and as the story implies, Romulan’s and Vulcan’s don’t breed at all. It’s considered a shame to the Vulcan’s however the Romulan’s desire Vulcan’s more often than their own kind.

Saavik is taken in by Spock, who is at Hellguard fighting for the rights of these abandoned children, and brings her to Starfleet. He becomes her mentor and teacher, helping her to control her aggressive Romulan tendencies and embrace the calm, spiritual nature of the Vulcan life. The author makes many references to the two interacting often, to see how much Lieutenant Saavik actually looks up to Spock. There is a scene where Spock is eating lunch in the cafeteria and Saavik sits with him, curious to know more about her emotions for a friend she meets. I found this scene to be very moving; there is a part where Spock is explaining her emotions to her and telling her that she must learn to, ‘find her own way and make her own choices’, in regards to her emotions and feelings for others- humans in particular. At this response, Saavik gets upset and nearly towering over Spock screams that she is not to give into such impudent emotions! But, as calm as ever, Spock simply asks her to sit down and to heed that what he says is not an insult, but a query of one’s own well being. Having the respect she does for him, she backs off and does what he asks. I really liked that! As the book goes on, we see how the two have actually learned from one another and the common pains they both share. 

The next person it elaborates on is Peter Preston, Scotty’s 14 year old nephew who is working in engineering with him. He is an eager young boy with incredible knowledge and talent. However, he becomes upset when his uncle tells Admiral Kirk that he is his nephew! Peter didn’t want anyone to know that because he was sure they would think he only got on board because he knew someone- he didn’t do it himself. Wanting to get his uncle back, he makes an offhanded joke to Kirk, basically telling him his blind. Scotty plays it off for now, but later they confront each other before Peter heads off to math lessons with Lieutenant Saavik. In any case, an argument ensues between he and his uncle. Scotty starts lecturing him about embarrassing him in front of Kirk. Then Peter shoots back with Scotty embarrassing him in front of his co-workers! Scotty finally threatens that he will make the next few days hell for him, and that he needs to back off his, ‘girlfriend’, lieutenant Saavik! Peter spits something crude to Scotty then shoots off and out of the engineering room before his uncle can grab him! This is the friend that Saavik later asks Spock about, wondering why Peter was very red and somewhat embarrassed when speaking to her later about what he and his uncle had argued about. He purposely leaves out the fact that he has a crush on her, and it’s not till that moment when Saavik talks to Spock about it, does she realize how the young boy now felt.

Our next character would be Admiral Kirk. My impression that I got from him in the movie, was that he was cold, hard and somewhat aloof. Not so in the book. Throughout the entire novel Kirk’s character is actually very compassionate and ‘playful’ if you will. To express his companionship with his comrades, there is a scene in the engine room where he, Scotty and Dr. McCoy are laughing about the joke/insult that Peter pulled on Kirk! He is floored but then starts laughing, telling Scotty that he ‘likes this kid!’ A compassionate scene that lays particularly firm in my mind, was the part where Peter dies trying to save the engine room, suffering radiation poisoning. Kirk, although remaining composed, later breaks down and feels guilty for having let the young man die this way. Later again when Chekov is injured from the worm that slips out of his ear, Jim remains by his side, worried for him hoping he will make it. A very different take on the Kirk I remember from the movie. He seemed, condescending and short.

My final character is, can you guess? Khan Sighn. I must say I was more taken by the book version of Khan his movie counterpart. Khan, in the novel, is way more menacing and cruel than the movie. There is a scene where Khan boards Regulus I and becomes infuriated that the scientists deleted the Genesis data then left a video game running to mock his intelligence. He kills two of the supporting staff, a cook and a housekeeper, and then tortures the three remaining scientists horribly! It was gruesome and cruel, but I was highly shocked at how well the author captured Khan’s true evil nature. She expressed him as, sanely insane and driven by hate. That’s probably the best way to put it actually.

I give the, “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan” novel, a highly recommended read! Surely you’ve seen the movie, but the book explains so much more and in detail. There are other characters that are mentioned in the book that weren’t in the movie. Though they may not have been in the movie, they support the leading characters and give the book more life and passion. You wouldn’t be disappointed to read it at all! Until next time...

Keep Reading! - Nida Sea