Sep 10, 2010

Homeland – Do or Die

Mr. X loves fantasy and I love science fiction. Is it a match made in Heaven or are we doomed to never see eye to eye on fictional choices? The one advantage is that science fiction and fantasy are most commonly shelved together. Mr. X and I are able to stand together in front of the shelves and mock each other's book selections.

 

It took me years and years to realize I LIKED science fiction. People are always trying to convince me that it is just a matter of time before I embrace fantasy the same way. To test this I decided to ask Mr. X for his favorite fantasy book of all time. He replied with Homeland  almost immediately. So the pressure was on. One of my biggest problems with fantasy is the language used. The made up cities and characters and races can be hard to muddle through. I decided my best chance at enjoying Homeland was via audiobook.

 

There is a secret you need to know about Mr. X, he is a bit of a nerd nugget. The world of Homeland is the city of the Dark Elves, also known as the Drow. Drizzt’s homeland, the cite of his birth, is called Menzobarrenzan. The interesting thing about this city is that it is not a pure creation for this book, but was originally created to be part of the Dungeons and Dragons game. D&D was part of Mr. X’s interest in the Forgotten Realms series.

 

Forgotten Realms is the novelizations of the worlds involved in the game Dungeons and Dragons. While you would expect that these books, being an off shoot of another franchise, would not be very good, But many of them are and Homeland in particular has an amazing amount of depth.

 

R. A. Salvatore has been writing books for the Forgotten Realms series for a long time. His first novel, The Crystal Shard, was published in 1988. It was the second book in the Forgotten Realms series. (The series is written by various authors.) It was the first novel to feature Drizzt.

 

“That's the thing about fictional characters: they have a way of becoming real-- and not just real to the people reading about them, but surprisingly multidimensional to the author as well. I come to love, hate, admire, or despise the characters I create in my books. For that to happen, each must act consistently within the framework of his or her experiences, whether those events appear in the books or not.“ 
– R. A. Salvatore on writing more about Drizzt

 

I felt an immense obligation to not only finish, but enjoy this book.  I was in the midst of a budding relationship. What if when push came to shove Mr. X loved Mr. Salvatore more than he loved me? What if my unenjoyment of the book equated me to uncultured swine in his book?

 

Well, I needed not worry. It was not very far into the book that I started to feel connected and engrossed by it. The story had such depth. There characters had such interesting motivations.  But it is the horrible violent city of Menzobarrenzan that really captured me. It appealed to my dystopian longings. And then Drizzt, fighting against this dystopia, to seemingly no effect. It was great.

 

I also found that audiobooks are a great way to deal with my fantasy block. I don’t have to struggle over all the strange worlds and I can close my eyes and become a part of this world. I am not completely sold on all fantasy, but books like Homeland I definitely want to read more! Does anyone have any recommendations of similar type books? I am planning on reading more books in this series. In fact, I was actually waiting until this review was finished to get started on that. But this book has left me craving even MORE. So please leave me some recommendations in the comments.

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