Posted on December 26, 2008 by teampreston
The Promise of the Witch King is the second novel of the Sellswords series by R.A. Salvatore. The hardcover edition was released in the US on October 25, 2005.
“The book was hidden well.
Its pages promised the power of the Witch-King himself.
And now that it’s been found, even the fact that it kills anyone foolish enough to crack its cover won’t stop people from fighting over it.
Welcome to the Bloodstone Lands!
Human assassin Artemis Entreri and his dark elf companion Jarlaxle have come to the demon-haunted wastelands of the frozen north at the request of their dragon patron. It doesn’t take long for them to find themselves caught in the middle of a struggle between powerful forces that would like nothing more than to see them both dead . . . or worse.
But Entreri and Jarlaxle aren’t just any wandering sellswords, and the ancient evils and bitter blood-feuds of the wild Bloodstone Lands may have finally met their match.
The Sellswords Series has my attention. Largely because while it’s not Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Cattie-Brie and Wulfgar…but it’s set parallel to those stories.
Artemis Enterei is an interesting character because of the internal struggle that is growing within him. Yes, he’s a badass. He’s also getting older (about 40 at this point). He’s also now learning to grow beyond that hard shell he built around himself…seeing his own life as shallow and meaningless. Part of this is due to a magical …more The Sellswords Series has my attention; largely because while it’s not Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Cattie-Brie and Wulfgar…but it’s set parallel to those stories.
Artemis Entreri is an interesting character because of the internal struggle that is growing within him. Yes, he’s a badass. He’s also getting older (about 40 at this point). He’s also now learning to grow beyond that hard shell he built around himself…seeing his own life so far as shallow and meaningless. Part of this is due to a magical flute he’s been gifted. This is partly due to the interaction with the Drow Jarlaxle.
Jarlaxle himself is mildly interesting. More later…
Here’s what I wish to see from R.A. Salvatore:
I’d like to see his protagonists actually get in over their head sometimes. I’d like to see Jarlaxle not have a magical item for very occasion for a change.
Promise of the Witch King almost provided a couple of those, which was amusing. Salvatore does certainly describe violence well. Coming from a martial background I can follow most of it pretty well. I think part of what I enjoy is that the scene has shifted from the Sword Coast to Vaasa/ Damara and described a part of Faerun that isn’t fully fleshed out yet. The book makes me interested in using the region as a setting for MY games in Faerun…which I guess is the point of game fiction from the perspective of the publisher WotC.
I do enjoy the tension between Jarlaxle and Entreri as well. While I do enjoy seeing Entreri change and develop, I know that in order to remain “interesting” there needs to be some sort of conflict, and retaining a bit of distrust and ambiguity between the protagonists is great. Granted, there are times when I can feel the urge to reach through the pages and throttle Jarlaxle. He is a cocky, arrogant little bastard to be certain: but then…he’s supposed to be. In my mind, that is the result of the writer doing his job well…eliciting an emotion response from the reader.
Salvatore has done a good job in keeping Jarlaxle…alien. He’s a very ancient being, full of centuries of knowledge and perspectives that we as humans (the readers and as seeing in to the perspectives of Entreri and others) cannot fathom. Jarlaxle’s reasons for things change with the wind direction, almost at whim…or do they? I think what his writing does is to force the reader to second-guess himself as far as Jarlaxle goes, which is appropriate.
Overall, I enjoyed Promise of the Witch King. The last half of the book was a whirlwind of an all-nighter read! It has flaws of course, but balancing that are some pretty interesting bits that make the book quite enjoyable.
Review by Jeff Preston