Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Death of a Hero

I've been meaning to post this for some time, but have been too riddled with grief and confusion to put it down in words. After a few months of healing, I've finally gotten it out.

It was a slow death. One that's finally here and, while sad, somewhat a welcome relief. After years of a persistent illness, I regret to inform you that R. A. "Bob" Salvatore is no longer my favorite author. I weep with sadness at our departing, but know that we will both continue on in our lives and do great things.

I was introduced to Bob back in the mid 1980s. As a young boy, my aunt would take me to the bookstore in Williamsburg to buy me books or comics. On that particular day I chose a G. I. Joe comic. As I was reading it that night, again, I noticed I was continually entranced by the ad on the back cover. There was something haunting and compelling about it. Something that made me want to buy the book.

So I did. And with introductions to Drizzt, Wulfgar, Regis, Bruenor, and Catti-brie, my relationship with Bob grew. Other introductions were made over the years from Gary Leger to Elbryan and from Luthien to Nom Anor. All great people to meet, read about, and ride next to on their adventures.

But every adventure must come to an end, every McGuffin must be found. And to that end, when the story The Ancient began, I realized that our relationship had died. There was no longer a spark there. Bob's words no longer held any magic.

Over the years I've followed Bob across the country, through his life and mine. I cut my "fantasy" and "sci-fi" teeth on his books. I started following message boards back in the mid 1990s in the first incarnation of his website. I met great fans along the way and made great friends. I followed Bob to book signings. Traded emails. Even shared a drink once.

But each friendship evolves over time.

And to that end Bob, I'm sorry to say you have officially been replaced as my favorite author. Who has replaced you? Who now holds the coveted spot in my heart and in my mind? I don't know.

My favoritism is now adrift. I may have grown up reading Hardy Boy books, but I'm now looking for the new kid on the block. Man or woman, young or old, established or rookie. Nothing matters but my favoritism. There are some front runners with Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Anton Strout, and others.

But who will finally arrive at the much desired spot of the trump-all author? Who will spur me on to read more of their work? Who can manage to turn my life so upside down I'm willing to spend more money just to get it spinning faster? Is it you Pat? Joe? Karen? Anton? Who can measure up in the end?

And that is where I will leave my faithful, yet small, group of readers. Salvatore is dead to me. His work doesn't measure up. I'll continue to follow his stories but only from afar. I can only hope someone will live up to the challenge.


Anton Strout said...

If I give you a dollar, can I buy your vote?

TK42ONE said...

A dollar? Why you cut me to the core. To think I'd be someone willing to take a bribe.

You'd be right. Damn right.

Save the dollar. Send a galley of book two. Or not. I'm a cheap date.

You should be proud that not only are you on the short list, but you (urban fantasy) are also outside of the usual genre I read (regular fantasy).

And you should be proud about who you're in the mix with. Pat and Joe are some heavy hitters.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, another parallel between our lives as twins separated at birth.It was 1988 when, in high school algebra, the kid on front of me turned around and held before me Ed Greenwood's "Spellfire" and asked casually if I wanted or else he'll throw it away. He had just finished it and thought I might like it.

At the time I hated to read, only because the selection of books I read was the literature crap they force down your throats in middle and high school. I took it and figured I probably will put in on a shell to rot for years.

I got home and happen to open it, and never let go. I immediately went to the book store and searched for more of these "Forgotten Realms" books, even though I was real leary on picking up another book because I was afraid I might not like it and had wasted my money. Enter Bob's book, Homeland, and you suddenly found a stark, raving mad fan who, from that point on, collected every Realms book published including the hardcovers, softcovers, and reprints.

Bob's impact to me is exponential in meaning, and it was with heavy heart that, sometime after Sea of Swords, that things started to change. I no longer identified with the Drow ranger like I had and soon I found another character more in line with my changed - evolved - self, Erevis Cale. I still read Bob's work, I still collect it as I did even though I've only read the first three Demon books only. He is still a mentor to me, but for now, Paul Kemp is my favorite with Patrick Rothfuss right behind.

I've got all of Bob's books (except for one particular anthology) and there are several I still need to read but they noticably have fallen to the end of the reading pile. I still read a Drizzt book upon release, but as for the others, well, I'll get around to them.

Like you, I cut my teeth on fantasy because of Bob, even joined his little fan club in the early nineties, but sad to say my tastes have changed but not my respect. He is still a god in modern fantasy and if it wasn't for him I sure the fantasy world would not be what it is today.