cover image The Ancient

The Ancient

R. A. Salvatore, Author . Tor $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-17

This ensemble-driven follow-up to 2004's The Highwayman finds bestseller Salvatore liberally borrowing themes and character types from his earlier novels. As in the Cleric Quintet, a disaffected monk (Cormack) contemplates higher wisdom and draws the love of a restless outsider (the shaman Milkeila), while rough-and-ready dwarf Mcwigik provides brute strength and comic relief in similar measure. As in the Drizzt novels, the nominal hero wanders, deals death and addresses his readers in impassioned italics. Bransen Garibond's dual identity as the swashbuckling Highwayman and stuttering Stork recalls the Crimson Shadow. As in the Icewind Dale books, the setting is a remote wintry landscape, with isolated islands standing in for barbarian villages. The scattered cast takes much too long to converge, and druidic arch-villain Ancient Badden never emerges as an effective antagonist. The result is a Frankenstein's monster–like construct of brisk prose and lively combat scenes: imposing at first glance, but awkwardly assembled and doomed to disappoint. (Mar.)