Along with being the 8th Drizzt book, Starless Night is book #2 in the Legacy of the Drow storyline. We saw in the last book that the drow are very interested in Mithral Hall. And Drizzt, being the edgy protagonist that he is, feels like it’s all his fault. If they weren’t after him, they wouldn’t have come here, and his friends wouldn’t have died. Unfortunately, Drizzt is playing up the wrong trope with this particular logic thread. So, he goes off, alone, to deal with a problem that is tens of thousands of foes strong. And of course, his friends must chase after him to prevent this foolishness.
I make it sound all dramatic and sappy because it is. While this series has gotten generally less trope-y as it progresses, the tropes are strong here. I don’t think I’ve been this unsurprised with how events play out since The Crystal Shard. The writing is better, you can see how Salvatore improves over time, but the story is fairly bland. Granted, we readers know from the start that Drizzt’s assumptions are wrong thanks to the epilogue at the end of the last book. And a character with flaws is always better than a Mary Sue.
Now, despite the fact that the Legacy of the Drow is 4 books, the first three read like a trilogy. Even though this is book 2 of 4, it feels like a middle book. At the same time, it’s still a fairly self-contained adventure. Yes, it follows up the last book, but you could skip over book #7 and still understand this one well enough. And while plot threads are left hanging by the end of this one, it’s not really a full-fledged cliffhanger. Which is nice; I like being able to pick a book up without feeling like I need to re-read the last one.
But on the whole, this is kind of a low-point in the Drizzt series. This book is more about Drizzt himself than a greater story. Which we’ve already done in his backstory trilogy. I get that these series can’t be big plot all the time, but the character development felt weak. It’s like if you took an episode of a 30-minute show and stretched it out into a 90-minute special. Like, it works, but, it could have just been 30 minutes without anything lost.
Nonetheless, the quality of the series overall is enough to convince me Starless Night is just a pothole. I’m fairly confident the next book will get back to the big battles and other good stuff.