Luthien's Gamble

R.A. Salvatore

Warner Aspect. $18.95
(paper $5.99)

At the end of The Sword of Bedwyr, Luthien accidentally started a riot which ended in the evil duke's death, thus freeing the city of Montfort, now called Caer MacDonald. Now Luthien and his friends must protect that freedom by defeating the army evil King Greensparrow sends to recapture Caer MacDonald. And, in a desperate gamble, they do. From there it seems an easy step to freeing all the land of Eriador.

Luthien's Gamble is the second installment of the Crimson Shadow series, and is no better than its predecessor. R.A. Salvatore's concept is a common one in fantasy fiction: an oppressed land struggling against an evil ruler. The story has been done successfully time and time again. Luthien's Gamble is not one of them.

One problem is Salvatore's poor handling of his plot. His approach is basically to assemble his story around a showcase of play-by-play sword fights and other embattlements. The book strongly reflects the formulaic writing style common to the TSR and D & D authors. Even without the gaming influence, however, Salvatore's writing is still bad, with repeated cliched images like "shining white stallion" and "The beautiful half-elf gave a resigned sigh as she brushed the long wheat-colored tresses from her face."

Salvatore's one small success is the irrepressible highway-halfling Oliver deBurrows and, to a lesser extent, Oliver's bantering rapport with Luthien. But this single flamboyantly fun character -- as much as he might like to -- is not sufficient to support the book alone.


The Crimson Shadow:

The Sword of Bedwyr. Warner, 1995
Luthien's Gamble. Warner, 1996
The Dragon King. Warner, 1996


This review copyright 1996 by Wendy Morris
Information last updated March 22, 1998

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