Publisher: Harper Audio (Audiobook – 28 July 2020)
Series: Generations – Book Three
Length: 15 hours and 9 minutes
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Legendary fantasy author R. A. Salvatore brings his latest trilogy of novels to an epic conclusion with his 2020 release, Relentless, the third and final book in the Generations trilogy.
War has once again come to the Forgotten Realms, as the Drow hordes of Menzoberranzan march to reclaim the soul of one of their own, the previously dead sword master Zaknafein Do’Urden. Centuries ago, Zaknafein sacrificed his life to save his son, Drizzt Do’Urden, allowing him to become the greatest hero the lands had ever seen. Thanks to the help of a mysterious Drow priestess, Zaknafein has been returned to life and finally reunited with his son. However, their reunion has been far from perfect, as Zaknafein has trouble understanding some of his son’s choices, including his unusual companions and his marriage to a human. Worse, Drow fanatics, utterly loyal to the dark god of Chaos, Loth the Spider Queen, have declared war on the surface, determined to capture and kill Zaknafein and Drizzt and everyone who stands with them.
A massive army of demons has invaded the dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym, trapping Zaknafein, the rogue Jarlaxle, Drizzt’s life-long friends and the legendary Companions of the Hall inside, while dark forces attack their allies on the surface. At the same time, the massed armies of the Drow city of Menzoberranzan have been forced to war and now occupy the tunnels surrounding Gauntlgrym, cutting off any chance of escape. However, all of this pales in comparison to the greatest tragedy that has occurred in the lands outside of Gauntlgrym, where a demonic device of great power tracked and disintegrated Drizzt as he tried to destroy the mechanical creature.
While things seem dire, the Companions of the Hall are far from defeated, and every man, dwarf, halfling and rogue dark elf is ready to fight. As Zaknafein, Gauntlgrym’s dwarf king Bruenor and their allies attempt to hold back the hordes besieging them by any means possible, the barbarian warrior Wulfgar works to reclaim the city of Luskan with a small force of warriors. As the battle begins in earnest, heroes will rise, empires will fall, and the world will change forever. However, the fate of everyone involved in this battle may lay in Zaknafein’s secret history, as demons from his past come back to haunt him once again.
R. A. Salvatore has produced another incredible and wonderful fantasy read that takes several of his most iconic characters on a dark and dangerous journey. Salvatore is one of my favourite fantasy authors, having produced an immense and awesome collection of novels over the years. While he has written several series, such the novels set in his Corona universe (including his other 2020 release, Song of the Risen God), his main body of work is set within the shared Forgotten Realms fantasy universe and primarily follows the adventures of the Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden and his heroic companions. Relentless is the third entry in the latest Drizzt Do’Urden trilogy of books, known as the Generations trilogy, which includes the preceding novels Timeless and Boundless. This series continues the adventures of Drizzt and his companions, but features an intriguing new angle in the return of Drizzt’s father, who died in the 1990 novel, Homeland. This has so far proven to be an impressive and exciting trilogy from Salvatore that contains an intriguing new narrative and pays homage to his earlier novels in the overarching series. I have been looking forward to Relentless for some time, especially after the really cool cliffhanger that Salvatore featured at the end of Boundless.
In this latest book, Salvatore tells a complex and action-packed story that makes use of multiple character perspectives to tell an epic and exciting tale, especially after establishing so many excellent plot points in the previous two novels. As he did in the other entries in this series, Salvatore features two distinct timelines throughout this impressive book. Relentless is broken up into four separate parts (not including the prelude), with two of these parts set during in the universe’s modern era, depicting the current day battle for Gauntlgrym and the lives of the author’s beloved protagonist, while the other two parts of the novel are set deep in the past. These two parts of the novel are set hundreds of years before the current events and follow Zaknafein, Jarlaxle and several other Drow characters during their younger days. Both of these distinctive storylines have their own appeals, and I had a fantastic time reading both of them.
I probably enjoyed the prequel storylines the most, as I really enjoyed the deeper look at Zaknafein’s past and its intriguing implications on the events of Salvatore’s earlier books. These prequel storylines are loaded with fantastic depictions of life in the chaotic and evil Drow city of Menzoberranzan, and it was extremely entertaining to see all the backstabbing, politics and brutal battles for supremacy that are a distinguishing feature of day-to-day Drow life. These prequel storylines also contain some of the best action sequences in the book, mainly because they focus on the character of Zaknafein, the greatest sword fighter in the world, and Salvatore always portrays his epic fight sequences in intricate detail, capturing the sheer majesty of the character’s fighting ability. I also quite enjoyed seeing more of the young, up-and-coming version of the Drow mercenary and conman, Jarlaxle, as he manipulates the entirety of the city, and all of his scenes are extremely fun. This earlier storyline in Relentless is a great continuation of the other prequel storylines that appeared in the previous entries in the Generations trilogy, and I really enjoyed how this entire expanded storyline concludes. It was fascinating to see how the events of Zaknafein’s past impacted the main storyline, and I felt that this was an outstanding addition to Relentless’s story.
While I did prefer the prequel storyline, the contemporary story contained within the other two parts of the book is still pretty epic in its own right, as it features a desperate fight for survival against the antagonists of the series. Salvatore goes big for these parts of the book, featuring massive battles for supremacy, major character moments and some universe-changing twists and turns. Like the prequel storyline, this main narrative thread flows on extremely well from the previous Generations books, and the author provides a satisfactory conclusion to the war which was set up in the last two novels. The author more strongly utilises multiple character perspectives in these parts of the book, which I felt helped to tell a richer and more exciting story, especially as you got to see the action unfold from the eyes of many established characters. A lot of the plot points established in the prequel storylines were masterfully exploited throughout these main parts of the book, and I think that the combination of time periods worked extremely well to create a powerful and memorable narrative. The major events that occurred at the end of Relentless were rather interesting, and it looks like Salvatore has some intriguing plans for any future novels set in this universe. Overall, this was an extremely enjoyable tale filled with some great action, well-established characters, and an incredible combination of compelling and varied storylines.
While I usually find all of Salvatore’s books to be extremely accessible to general fantasy fans who are unfamiliar with his prior works, Relentless is book probably best enjoyed by people who have read the rest of the entries in the Generations trilogy and who have some decent knowledge of the other Drizzt Do’Urden novels. This is mainly because Relentless serves as the conclusion to the connected storylines established in Timeless and Boundless, and the story has gotten quite complex at this point, especially with the prequel storyline focusing on the young Zaknafein, which was carefully cultivated in the prior two novels. While new readers can probably still follow and enjoy Relentless, fans of Salvatore’s work are going to be the ones who get the most out of it, especially as this latest book ties into some of the author’s earliest works. For example, the prequel storyline has some extremely strong connections to one of the author’s earliest books, Homeland. The Generations trilogy’s past-based storyline has primarily served as a compelling prequel to Homeland, and this latest book contains several scenes that shed new light on this previous book. Indeed, some of the best scenes in Relentless serve as a direct precursor to key events of Homeland or provide alternate viewpoints to them, allowing for some fascinating new context and information. I personally have always had a lot of love for Homeland, which is one of Salvatore’s best novels, and I really appreciated seeing this new take on the plot. As a result, this is a must-read for fans of Salvatore’s fantastic series and readers are in for a real treat.
Another great part of this book were the excellent characters featured throughout the various time periods. As has been the case with the other books in the Generations trilogy, much of the character development revolves around Zaknafein, as both time periods have a fascinating focus on him. Salvatore continues to explore various parts of Zaknafein’s character throughout Relentless, both in the past and present, and it was great to see how he has evolved throughout the course of the trilogy. I particularly enjoyed seeing Zaknafein’s development in the prequel storyline, especially as you get several extra scenes discussing Zaknafein’s conflicted feelings when Drizzt was born. Salvatore spends a lot of time establishing how Zaknafein became the person who would eventually sacrifice his own life for his son, and it was great to see this whole new side of this iconic and fantastic character.
Several other characters featured throughout Relentless really stood out to me. Foremost of these is of course the rogue Drow criminal and conman, Jarlaxle, who is a prominent character in both timelines. Jarlaxle is so much fun to see in action, whether he is manipulating someone or getting involved in a fight with his fantastic arsenal of insane magical weapons and tools. Drizzt, who is nominally the main character of this trilogy, and indeed most of Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels, was notably absent throughout this book, having been disintegrated at the end of Boundless. Salvatore works his apparent death into the story extremely well, creating some emotionally deep moments as his friends mourn his passing and try to work out how to move on. I think that Salvatore utilised his absence from the story to full effect, especially as it allowed other characters to have their moment to shine. Drizzt’s eventual resurrection, which was so predictable it is not even really a spoiler, was set up beautifully and I really liked how it tied into some of the more mystical events of some previous Salvatore novels. Aside from these Drow characters, the rest of the Companions of the Hall have major moments throughout Relentless, and each of them has a key storyline set around them. Bruenor, Wulfgar, Regis, Catti-brie, Artemis Enteri and more are all utilised throughout the story, and it was great to see all of them in action. Salvatore also focuses on several other side characters who have appeared in prior novels, and there are some notable storylines and character arcs scatter amongst them that will no doubt bear fruit in future Drizzt Do’Urden novels. Overall, Relentless continues Salvatore’s exceptional character work, and it was fantastic to see all these complex personalities come to life.
Rather than grab a physical copy of Relentless I ended up getting this cool fantasy novel on audiobook, which was a fantastic way to enjoy Salvatore’s latest release. The audiobook format of Relentless has a run time of just over 15 hours, which, while fairly substantial for an audiobook, is easy enough to get through once you become engrossed in the excellent narrative and is definitely worth the time investment. I really enjoyed listening to this great book and I found that it was the perfect way to absorb all the unique fantasy elements and Salvatore’s intriguing twists. Part of the reason why I enjoyed this format so much was the excellent voice work from narrator Victor Bevine. Bevine is a veteran audiobook narrator who has provided his vocal talents to a huge number of Salvatore’s previous novels, including the other two entries in the Generations trilogy. It is cool having the continuity of Bevine’s voice after enjoying so many Salvatore audiobooks, and I really enjoy the tone that he uses for this story. Bevine moves Relentless along at a quick pace, and the listener never finds themselves stuck in a slow part of the novel. I also quite enjoyed the excellent voices that Bevine utilised throughout the book. Not only did these voices perfectly fit the characters they were assigned to, helping to bring them to life, but I loved all the fun accents he used for the various races featured within the book, such as the Scottish brogue that each dwarven character had. All of this really enhanced my enjoyment of Relentless and this is a fantastic novel to check out on audiobook.
Relentless is another exceptional and epic read from the master of fantasy fiction, R. A. Salvatore, as he wraps up another amazing trilogy with a remarkable and memorable bang. Salvatore remains at the top of his game for Relentless, providing the reader with a complex, multifaceted storyline, studded with intense action, fantastic characters and some really clever story elements. I had an outstanding time reading this awesome book and I cannot wait to see what magic and mayhem Salvatore comes up with in his next captivating read. Highly recommended.