Home > Literature > Review of the first few pages of The Crystal Shard and Harlequin

Review of the first few pages of The Crystal Shard and Harlequin

Much as I expected, R A Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard was more like The Crystal Shit. It’s the kind of writing that gives fantasy a bad name – full of clichés, paper-thin characters and utterly uninspiring writing. It comes across as fanfic – heavily indebted to AD&D and lacking the imagination or ambition to create something new (although, to be fair, I don’t know whether the RPG settings of Icewind Dale and Forgotten Realms predate this book or not).

As an example of the level of thought and care that’s gone into the writing of this book, Icewind Dale is described as a thousand square miles of wilderness. Quite apart from the fact that using square miles to describe a landscape is a little too modern-sounding, a thousand square miles is a square 32 miles on a side, or a rectangle of 10 by 100 miles. Not a vast wilderness.

After talking about what fantasy books we like with my friend’s housemate, he gave three Salvatore books, and I thought I’d better read one of them for the sake of politeness, if nothing else. Usually, if I start a book, I will finish it, but this novel was so obviously bad right from the beginning, that in this case I have to agree with Stephen Donaldson’s oft mentioned axim – life’s too short to read bad books.

In addition to Reaper’s Gale, I brought Lord Valentine’s Castle and Harlequin with me from Britain. Of those two, I brought only Harlequin with me on my tour of eastern Canada. So, sitting in Ottawa’s Museum of Civilization (I don’t think it’s dedicated to the games) cafeteria, I’ve just read the prologue of that book. And, never mind lightyears, it was universes ahead of The Crystal Turd in terms of literary merit. So much so, that I’m kind of disappointed in myself that I’m only now reading something by Bernard Cornwell. He’s written a fair few books, so, if this volume continues to impress, it looks like I have further reading pleasure to look forward to.

Categories: Literature
  1. Drew
    15 October 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Have you read Lord Valentine’s Castle yet? I remember reading it in my early teens and enjoying it a lot. I can’t remember much about it to be honest, it’s probably at least 15 years since I read it, but I remember it being quite fun and light-hearted and rather fantastical.

    Hmm. Maybe I should read it again. Although you never can tell whether re-reading a book you enjoyed in your youth is a good idea. It might not be as good as I remember.

  2. 16 October 2007 at 6:54 pm

    I haven’t read Lord Valentine’s Castle yet, no. It’s currently in a drawer in Pete’s house. I bought a couple of books in Ottawa – Hellstrom’s Hive – which I’m reading now – and A Spell for Chameleon. Depending on how quickly I can read those two, I’ll probably make a start on LVC next week – maybe on the flight back to blighty.

    According to Wikipedia, Robert Silverberg – called Silverbob by George R R Martin – has written a million books. Approximately. The only one I’ve read is Nightfall (co-written with Isaac Asimov) and it was very good (although something about the setting didn’t make sense).

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: