Streams of Silver was originally written as part 2 of a trilogy, but its predecessor really felt like a standalone book. We’ve got a lot of the same characters from book 1 but most of the plot is all new. With the whole Crystal Tower thing resolved, Bruenor can now focus on reclaiming his ancestral home. Now, I know what you’re thinking. A dwarf and his small band of friends seeking to reclaim a lost underground homeland. You might be tempted to think it feels like a Tolkien ripoff. And you’d be right.
The Tolkien homage notwithstanding, a lot of other stuff does happen in Streams of Silver before the party makes it to the mine. It’s not like Bruenor’s ancestral homeland is right next door. They have to make it through dangerous lands filled with monsters first. Along the way, they’ll make new friends & new enemies and have a chance to grow.
Since this is a sequel, our protagonists are not new characters. With the tedious character introductions out of the way, there’s more time to focus on character development. Which is a godsend considering how everyone was a generic fantasy stereotype in book 1. The new characters all get treated well though.
Now, one thing that bothered me in the last book was how inconsistent the monsters are in terms of strength. There’s a lot of Conservation of Ninjutsu here but after seeing it in the first book, I’m more willing to just roll with it this time. Not to mention the characters get some crazy-powerful magic items, on top of the ones they already had from the last book. Since this is a novel, not a game, those choices make sense. Games have to maintain a sense of balance while other stories can let the heroes hack through armies of mooks to reach the Big Bad.
The other big difference is how Streams of Silver ends. There were still a few loose threads at the end of The Crystal Shard, but the story was more or less over. This time around, the story is left very much incomplete by the end. There’s a lot of stuff that’s still unresolved and the protagonists are a little worse for wear by the end. It’s far from the “the day is saved” ending that The Crystal Shard gave us. Which shows a great deal more comprehensive planning on the author’s part. Or it could just mean Salvatore got renewed for 2 books at once, I don’t know.
Either way, this book was fun and it seems like the next one will be the same way. Especially if you’re a D&D fan. Considering people are still playing D&D today (including me), it’s hard to remember this book is older than I am. Just another 30 or so years of lore to catch up on now, whew.