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Attention all Drizzt freaks: our favorite dark-elf hero is not, repeat not, in Spine of the World. Neither is Bruenor nor Cattie-brie nor Regis et al. But don't think that means the latest installment in R.A. Salvatore's sweeping Drizzt-and-pals series isn't worth picking up: Spine sets things straight for the Forgotten Realms' newest, meanest drunk, the burly barbarian who single-handedly made warhammers cool again despite their measly 1d4+1 damage. Yep, Wulfgar is back, after ditching his buddies in The Silent Blade to become a bottle-swilling bouncer in the mangy port town of Luskan.The towering tough guy hasn't strayed from his job at the Cutlass, hasn't sobered up, and hasn't forgotten his six years of horrific torture under the nasty balor Errtu.But it's time for another book, so all that's about to change: kicked out of the Cutlass, robbed of Aegis-fang (yikes!), and framed for the attempted murder of his old friend Captain Deudermont (remember him from pirate-hunting on the Sea Sprite?), Wulfgar goes on the run with the rogue Morik, who's become a true friend despite the mission Jarlaxle and his dark-elf cohort gave him to watch the barbarian. Sure, Drizzt is missing (although he does make appearances in the form of ruminating journal entries), so Spine isn't a nonstop scimitar-fest. But R.A. still spins a good yarn--as always. With plenty of combat and intrigue, not to mention the ever-familiar monsters and spells, Spine of the World is surely the best show in town for the Forgotten Realms crowd. --Paul Hughes
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