The Crystal Shard is the first book in the Icewind Dale trilogy of the Dungeons & Dragons based series that takes place in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Geeked out yet? Good, because this was the book that sent Mr. Mond on his path towards that Satanic game. He was curious how it would be perceived by an adult who had already read a lot of that genre, to determine if his own feelings for the book were due to it's merits or his own sentimentality.
Simply because of the heavy branding, I felt a bit hesitant. But when Mr. Mond actually gave me a copy as a present, I dived right in. At first, I found some of the sentences a bit simple and felt a bit overwhelmed by way too much exposition. I was worried the book was aimed at adolescent boys who slaver over every little bit of world detail or background. But the story picks up it's pace and there are a lot of pretty cool characters. Furthermore, the plot is sufficiently complex to keep you interested, but well-structured so you don't get lost. It has lots of pretty well thought out regional strategy and local politics. Once all these elements came together and started moving forward, it made for a very satisfying read. On top of that, there are lots of cool magic and fantasy moments, where Salvatore does a great job of providing cool detail and context. The halfling character, an unwilling politician, has a gem that allows him to influence others. It ends up being both a major plot point and a great tool for revealing the character. There is also a great backstory of the creation of a powerful, magical war hammer that is really cool.
I had a great time with this book and would pass it on to others who are fans of the genre. I would read the next in the series, but I wouldn't rush to get it. It's nice to know that they are out there and if I'm looking for that kind of entertainment, there is a quality source of it. But it is firmly ensconced in its genre and the tropes of medieval fantasy can be emotionally limiting. I also have this sense of leaning over a cliff (or maybe starting to climb up a immensely long ladder) when I think about all the books you could end up reading, all the characters, all the maps, all the locations that would fill your brain. It makes me hesitant to get too much farther into this world.
I'll send it out to one of you. Mr. Mond has made a convert!