Goodreads lists Night of the Hunter as the 25th book of the Legend of Drizzt, and it draws heavily on events of past books. This makes it a challenging book to read if you’re not familiar with the series. A reader entering the series with the 24th book, The Companions, had a good introduction to the characters, with a very accessible book, as I mentioned in my review. Proceeding onto Night of the Hunter is a shock.
Although I read the first seven or eight Drizzt books a long time ago, I returned to the series with The Companions and I’ve missed out on a lot. Although the plot of this book is somewhat intelligible, much of the action is less clear than I would have liked. It is not helped by the multiplicity of viewpoints, and it’s obvious I also need to relearn how to read what appeared to be quite chaotic battle scenes. The narrative is split between three groups: the progress of Drizzt with his reunited companions, the challenges faced by the one-time assassin Artemis Entreri and his companions, and the plans and feuding of the drow of Menzoberranzan.
For the most part, the adventures of Drizzt and his companions in this book are the least interesting part. Unlike the immediate challenges their reborn selves faced in The Companions, they spend a lot of trime travelling without
really having a strong threat to work against. Artemis Entreri has a much more interesting plotline, but there are so many breaks in it to look at other characters, the immediacy is lost. I’m not actually that fond of books that spend a lot of time looking at what the villains – in this case, the drow – are doing, but at least they’re actually doing something. The early part of the book is concerned with them trying to reform the power structure in Menzoberranzan, and the latter stages of the book sees them kidnap Artemis and his companions and finally coming into conflict with Drizzt.
Once all the plotlines in the book converge in the final chapters, with Drizzt coming to the aid of Artemis and fighting against the drow, the storyline clears significantly and there’s real drive to a book that felt it was meandering for much of its length.
My biggest problem with the book is, as mentioned, the number of viewpoints used. I’ve got a feeling that Night of the Hunter is trying to advance the stories of at least twelve separate characters, not all of whom get that much time. At 352 pages in the mass-market paperback, that’s not a lot of space in which to do so. The book is more successful at some of the big moments, some of which are quite disturbing (not least the fate that befalls Dahlia), but I found it very difficult to become engaged in the story. I didn’t feel the urge to complete the book as quickly as I could, which has a lot to do with how scattered the plot threads are as it starts.
So, I’d rate this as a middling book. It advances the story of Drizzt and his friends, but rarely lives up to its potential.