Introduction By Ed Greenwood
Ah, the drow. Slender fingers closing around a fine crystal goblet,
enclosing glowing wine in digits as inky as the darkness all
around...cruel lips and deadly swift minds, not to be trifled with...
Longtime gamers remember well the little surprise at the end of the
Giants modules, the link that made them only the first part of what was
to become the first epic adventure published for the ADVANCED DUNGEONS &
DRAGONS game. These adventures brought intrepid adventurers face to face
(and blade to blade) for the first time with the sinister, deadly drow.
The obsidian-skinned, lithe, beautiful, and ruthless dark elves were
among Gary Gygax's most fascinating creations. Almost
every player or Dungeon Master who played in or pored over the "D"
modules wanted more: more about the strange world of
the Underdark, with its fungi and weird radiations and pack lizard
caravans. Everywhere were the drow, darts from the hand
crossbows winging before them, javelins from their atlatals following in
short order, and whip-wielding, cruel priestesses hissing
out orders in the velvet darkness.
The Vault of the Drow was our first subterranean city, and gamers
were frankly fascinated by its warring merchant clans and
drow Houses. We knew true and deadly villains when we faced them--and
behind them all, the sinister Spider Goddess, Lolth
(or, if you prefer, Lloth), with her web-like domain and its gates to
other planes or worlds, her yochlol. Deadly and yet
One who answered their soft, sinister call was Bob Salvatore. More
than any other writer, he brought the drow to life on the
printed page, giving us the heroism of Zaknafein Do'Urden and his famous
son Drizzt. If one sets aside the spider goddesses,
Drizzt is clearly the best-known and most influential dark elf not only
among surface-dwelling folk in the FORGOTTEN
REALMS world--but in all of fantasy gaming. Just as the adventures that
introduced the drow were classics, Drizzt is a classic
character, noble and deadly, tortured and yet triumphant--who may well
outlive us all.
It has been my proud task to bring gamers rules and descriptions of
the dark elves on more than one occasion--but it is Bob
who gave us Menzoberranzan with all its decadence, savage intrigues, and
dark splendor in his great novel Homeland. It is
Bob who showed us one dark elf rising up from that grim city to greater,
brighter things. From such sagas readers find bright
inspiration, and it is my pleasure to introduce the classic works
between these covers once more. As I sit back, the shade of
Elminster nodding approvingly in the shadows behind my shoulder, I envy
those who will meet Drizzt for the first time here: the
excitements lie ahead for such fortunate folk. For my part, I am right
glad that Bob brought Drizzt into my world, into the
Realms we all now share, and I say again, as one old friend to another:
Talespinner, I salute you!
They wanted Drizzt.
The readers of the Icewind Dale Trilogy wanted Drizzt; the folks at
TSR wanted Drizzt; and--well, let's be honest about it--I wanted him
too. I wanted to find out where he came from and why he acted in such a
manner during the three Icewind Dale stories: half-crazy, mostly
lighthearted, but with a dark side to him. I know that sounds strange;
we're talking about a fictional character here, and one whom I created,
so wouldn't his background be of minimal importance, perhaps completely
irrelevant? Couldn't I make him whatever I desired?
In a word, no.
That's the thing about fictional characters: they have a way of
becoming real-- and not just real to the people reading about them, but
suprisingly multidimensional to the author as well. I come to love,
hate, admire, or despise the characters I create in my books. For that
to happen, each must act consistently within the framework of his or her
experiences, whether those events appear in the books or not.
So when my editor at TSR called me in late 1989 or early 1990, a
short time before the publication of The Halfling's Gem, and proposed
that I do another trilogy, this one detailing the background of Drizzt
Do'Urden, I was hardly surprised. The Icewind Dale books had been quite
successful. I knew from the many letters I had received from the many
people with whom I spoke with at books signings that Drizzt, for some
reason, stood above the other characters.
At that time I averaged about ten letters from readers a week, and
at least eight of the ten remarked that Drizzt was their favorite.
Repeatedly they asked how he got to where he was and became who he was.
The folks at TSR, of course, had been hearing the same questions.
So they asked for a prequel trilogy, and because I have three kids
to support, and because I was planning to quit my day job that same year
(which I did in June 1990), and most of all because I, too, truly wanted
to unravel the mystery behind this character, I gladly agreed.
I knew where Drizzt was conceived, of course: in my office, at my
day job. And I knew when he came into being: July 1987, right after my
proposal to write The Crystal Shard had been accepted, and right before
I actually started writing the book.
It was one of the strangest episodes of my writing career. At the
time I began writing the asked-for proposal, the FORGOTTEN REALMS
setting was nothing more than a prototype and a single novel, the
excellent Darkwalker on Moonshae by Doug Niles. When TSR asked me to
write a Realms book they sent me all that they had, which amounted
to...Darkwalker on Moonshae. Thus I came to believe that the Moonshae
Isles were the FORGOTTEN REALMS setting.
Well, the Moonshaes aren't that large a place. Any epic story taking
place in that region at that time would have to at least mention the
storyline and characters of Doug's fine book. I was thrilled at the
prospect of working with Doug Niles, but I didn't want to steal his
characters. I cam up with a compromise that involved Daryth from Doug's
book to introduce the hero of my book: Wulfgar, son of Beornegar, of the
barbarian tribes of Icewind Dale.
When I later discovered the actual size and scope of the Realms and
was told that TSR did not want to share characters (as they did with the
DRAGONLANCE saga), I was truly relieved, and that was the end of it--for
Then the proposal got accepted, and when Mary Kirchoff, then senior
editor in TSR's book department, told me I'd be writing the second
FORGOTTEN REALMS novel, she reminded me that now we had to set the book
thousands of miles from Doug's stomping ground, I needed a new sidekick
for Wulfgar. I assured her that I'd get right on it and come up with
something the following week.
"No, Bob," she responded, words I seem to hear too often from
editors. "You don't understand. I'm going into a meeting right not to
sell this proposal. I need a sidekick."
"Now?" I, in my never-before-in-the-world-of-publishing naivete,
"Right now," she answered, rather smugly.
And then it happened. I don't know how. I don't know why. I merely
said, "A drow."
There came a pause, followed by, in a slightly hesitant tone, "A
"Yeah," I said, growing more confident as the character began to
take more definite shape in my mind. "A drow ranger."
The pause was longer this time. Then, in barely a whisper, the
tremor of having to go tell this one to the mucky-mucks evident in her
tone, she said, "What's his name?"
"Drizzt Do'Urden, of D'aermon N'achezbaeron, Ninth House of
"Oh." Another pause. "Can you spell that?"
"Not a chance."
"A drow ranger?"
"Drizzit?" she asked.
"Drizzt," I corrected, for the first of 7.3 million times.
"Okay," the beleaguered editor agreed, probably thinking she could
change my mind later.
But she didn't, of course. This is a testament to Mary Kirchoff: she
let the creative person she hired do the creative thing and waited to
see the result before taking out the hatchet (which never appeared).
Thus was Drizzt born. Did I ever run him in a game? Nope. Is there
anyone I based him on? Nope. He just happened, unexpectedly and with
very little forethought. He was suppose to be a sidekick, after all; a
curiosity piece with a slightly different twist. You know: like Robin to
Batman, or Kato to the Green Hornet.
It didn't work out that way. In the first chapter of The Crystal
Shard Drizzt ran across the tundra and got ambushed by a yeti. By page
three, I knew.
Drizzt was the star of it all.
So now I was ready to sit down and write the prequel, to tell the
story of this drow ranger, of how he came to be the character we met in
the Icewind Dale Trilogy. I wanted to do something different, something
more intense and more personal. Since I love describing action,
particularly battle scenes, I didn't want to write the books from a
first-person perspective. I came up with the essays that Drizzt writes
to preview every section of the books, and I think I've received more
mail on those essays than on everything else I've ever written,
As Drizzt's prequel began to take shape a few inconsistencies
appeared. This was to be expected. How he acquired the panther, even his
age, as described in the Icewind Dale Trilogy, didn't seen appropriate
to his previous existence. I decided the Dark Elf Trilogy should not be
hemmed in by that which came before, so if you look closely, you'll see
that some minor details have changed in subsequent printings of The
I suppose that's appropriate since this story--soon to be eleven
books, four short stories, and still counting--seems to have a life of
its own. It's a growing and shifting thing and doesn't move in
directions I ever anticipated. I thought it was dead, and lo and behold,
it's breathing again, as strong as ever. I'll nip and tuck, because in
the end, I want the whole work to be consistent and believable within
the context of the fantasy genre.
The simple truth is that I wrote this story for one reason: I wanted
to tell it. I wanted people to enjoy it.
I hope you do.