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A typical middle book in a trilogy...or is it? Still not that interesting
on 13 April 2009
The Pirate King, book two in R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms series called "Transitions," suffers greatly from middle-book syndrome, as well as just not being as interesting as the first book, The Orc King. The pacing of the book just seems off, a large part of the book is filled with characters I didn't care much about (and a couple who I had trouble telling apart occasionally), and it just seemed too much like a transitional novel. You might not think that's a bad thing in a series called "Transitions," but this one goes a bit too far in that direction.
The major problem I had with The Pirate King is that too much of the action is removed from the characters who I actually like, Regis and Drizzt. Salvatore cuts back and forth between the two companions and the events in Luskan, and I found myself losing interest in the horrible events going on in that city, especially after the first assault on the Hosttower. The main pirate captain who dreams of becoming the Pirate King, Kensidan, just isn't that interesting a character, despite his Machiavellian machinations to wield political power once Deudermont is removed. The dialogue didn't grab me, the plots and counterplots going back and forth among the captains, Greeth, and Deudermont, all seemed so pedestrian. These events didn't have the oomph of the first book, and the characters weren't interesting enough to cover for that.
Also, Drizzt and Regis seemed too far removed from the action. When they're in Luskan, they get involved, and things become much more immediate. They actually succeeded in making me care about Luskan and what was going on there. My favorite scenes, though, were those when the pair was up north, looking for Wulfgar, trading tales of the past and showing just how much they have changed in the many years since they all became friends.
I did love the action and characterization of the regulars (Drizzt and Regis are the only ones in most of the book). It was nice to see somebody who is almost a match for Drizzt in a fight, as it often doesn't feel like he's in any danger when you're reading about him in a melee. Also, the action doesn't seem quite as forced as it did in The Orc King, though that could just be me getting used to Salvatore's writing style again. Overall, I did enjoy a large part of the book, whenever Drizzt and Regis were "on screen." I also liked how Salvatore has them deal with a couple of moral dilemmas that makes the book seem a bit more "adult" than many Dungeons & Dragons novels.
Overall, I was disappointed in The Pirate King, but I would still recommend it for those who are interested in this type of fantasy novel. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a novel alone, but the series itself seems to be on strong footing and this is just a minor crack to step over in your enjoyment of the whole. Take it for what it's worth.