Friday, August 29, 2014

The Legend of Drizzt: "Dark Mirror," read by Dan Harmon

My journey into audiobooks continues with the second tale of The Legend of Drizzt, "Dark Mirror," as read by Dan Harmon.

After he was absent from the first story, this second tale of the collection focuses on R.A. Salvatore's famed dark elf.

Drizzt is out of Mithral Hall on a journey to visit the lady of Silverymoon when he comes across the tracks of a band of ogres hauling human prisoners.

Drizzt begins to track the monsters only to encounter the men from a local village, ill-prepared to face their foes, but determined to get their families back. Among those men, though, is a brash leader by the name of Rico, who talks of teaching the ogres a lesson even as Drizzt urges the men to let him steal their prisoners away without a fight.

As Drizzt puts his plan in action to quietly get the families back, he hears the men break out into argument and Rico order a charge, leading to the all-out battle that Drizzt wishes to avoid. During the fight, one of the prisoners, a goblin, escapes. Rico demands the goblin be returned, claiming him to be a criminal awaiting execution.

Drizzt retrieves the goblin and returns to the village with him, only to find out that it's not quite as cut and dried. The goblin, Nojheim, is in fact, quite a bit more than he seems.

"Dark Mirror" features both Drizzt's reflective side and the breathless action scenes that Salvatore is known for. While I loved the kind of long, brooding passages that opened the story during my reading of those early tales of Drizzt, they don't seem to hold up well to the audiobook treatment. They seem a bit flowery, and I'm really ready to get on with the story. This being one of the tales from this collection that I remember, I know that I didn't feel that way when I read it.

Harmon takes a bit more sedate approach than the first narrator, Felicia Day. It's a bit tedious in the early going, probably lending to the problem with those early descriptive passages. But as the story goes on, Harmon seems to warm to it. He really seems to fall into the character of Nojheim, and the goblin's conversation with Drizzt is the high point of the reading.

"Dark Mirror," I believe, remains one of the most poignant and moving tales that Salvatore wrote about his drow hero, and I think by the end of this reading, that gravity really comes through. It starts a little weak, but finishes strong. Though I haven't reached the readers that I'm most looking forward to yet, I have found two winners.

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