The Halfling’s Gem picks up right where Streams of Silver left off. Bruenor lost, Regis and Guenhwyvar kidnapped, and the remaining companions at a loss. Bruenor may be gone, but Regis and Guenhywvar can still be saved as the companions continue forward. Now, nothing in this book is too surprising. It’s still your standard fantasy fare. That being said, now that the group is out of not-Moria, the plot does start to get more original.
Like the rest of the Icewind Dale trilogy, there are no real surprises here. It’s fairly easy for readers to guess what will happen next, but the characterization and storytelling still make this book worthwhile. Regis’ old boss, Pasha Pook, serves as the key villain here but not really the main one. Entreri is still around and technically working for Pook, but very much has his own agenda. He leads the companions on a merry chase throughout the Forgotten Realms, dangling Regis as bait to lure Drizzt into the rematch he craves.
Despite this series later being coined “The Legend of Drizzt”, things are pretty even among the whole cast here. As I mentioned in my review of The Crystal Shard, Salvatore originally intended Wulfgar to be the main character. People just liked Drizzt better because he’s dark and mysterious but still a good person. The focus does start to lean a bit more towards Drizzt in this book, but the spotlight isn’t on him just yet.
That being said, everyone gets character development here. Regis (sorta) learns to be a better person, Wulfgar continues to learn about civilized lands, and love starts to blossom being Catti-brie and Drizzt. Kudos to Catti-brie for still being a warrior woman badass and not just a love interest. Entreri also takes a more central role as Drizzt’s rival and is sure to be a recurring villain in this series.
R.A. Salvatore’s writing continues to be incredibly detailed. The action sequences are fast-paced but every important little detail is still there. Instead of just saying “this person swings his sword”, Salvatore describes how they swing their sword, why, and what their opponent does in response. It gives a better sense of the immense skill each character possesses with their weapons.
Despite all that, The Halfling’s Gem still feels like a very early story. I wouldn’t go as far as to claim it has Early Installment Weirdness, it’s just…shallow. A standard fantasy adventure in a standard fantasy setting. But considering this series started in 1988 and is still going as of 2020, I assume things pick up a bit later.