The Crystal Shard

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The Crystal Shard
The Crystal Shard (first edition).jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorR. A. Salvatore
Cover artistLarry Elmore
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Icewind Dale Trilogy
Set inForgotten Realms
PublisherTSR, Inc.
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages336 (first edition)
ISBN978-0880385350 (first edition)
LC ClassPS3569.A4625 C78
Followed byStreams of Silver 

The Crystal Shard is a fantasy novel by American writer R. A. Salvatore. The first book in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, it was his first published novel.

Plot summary[edit]

Even in the remote far northern region of Icewind Dale, the renegade dark elf ranger Drizzt Do'Urden was not fully accepted, except by the dwarves whom he had eventually befriended, he roamed the tundra, hunting down yeti and giants that threatened the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. When the barbarians that were the native people of the Dale banded together to slaughter the people of Ten Towns, whom they viewed as invaders, Drizzt, with his drow stealth and ranger's knowledge of the terrain, was able to discern their plans and relay the information to his friends, the halfling Regis and the dwarf Bruenor. Regis, on the council of Ten Towns, used persuasion and a magical hypnotic ruby pendant to convince the stubborn leaders of the towns to work together to thwart the barbarian attack.

Because of the warning and their unified efforts, Ten-Towns and the dwarves successfully repelled the barbarian attackers, decimating the proud warriors. Drizzt fought in the battle, personally meeting the barbarian king, Heafstaag, in combat. Drizzt wounded Heafstaag many times, including a stab to the stomach that should have been fatal, but Drizzt himself was wounded, and Heafstaag escaped and survived. During this same battle, Bruenor met a young barbarian standard bearer, who broke the shaft of his banner over the dwarf's head. Bruenor, unfazed, slammed the youth with his shield, rendering him unconscious. After the battle, Bruenor saved this same youth from being killed in cold blood by the townspeople, taking the young man, Wulfgar, son of (the late) Beornegar into his care. Bruenor also defended the wounded and unconscious Drizzt, slamming Kemp to the ground and breaking the nose of his lieutenant when he found them kicking the injured drow. Bruenor told the people of Ten Towns, quite truthfully, that if not for Drizzt Do'Urden, they would now be dead. After this, Drizzt found more acceptance in Icewind Dale, even respect.

Five years passed, with Wulfgar indentured to the dwarves. Bruenor taught him to smith and mine, and came to love him like a son. Though Wulfgar originally resented the dwarves and his indenture, he came to respect and even love Bruenor, like the father that had died years past.

During this same time, the failed wizard Akar Kessel, left to die in the Spine of the World, found Crenshinibon, the Crystal Shard, a magical, sentient crystal with the ability to lend power to its wielder, make tower sanctuaries in the likeness of itself, and insinuate itself into the minds of others, including that of its wielder. Crenshinibon, obsessed with gaining power, twisted Akar Kessel's mind to get him to do its will. Kessel, with no idea that he was being controlled, decided to conquer Icewind Dale for his own, he enslaved the goblins and orcs of the nearby mountains, building them into his own army, their wills completely destroyed by Crenshinibon. He even managed to gain control of Heafstaag, and through him the tribes of barbarians, he also acquired the services of a balor demon named Errtu to be his general, though it was far more interested in sticking around long enough to get his hands on Crenshinibon than anything else.

Near the end of Wulfgar's indenture, Bruenor forged Aegis-fang, the magical warhammer, for his adopted son, he then took Wulfgar to be trained in the ways of battle, choosing Drizzt as the young man's instructor. Wulfgar was ambivalent when he saw that his teacher was a drow, but quickly came to respect and admire the dark elf. Drizzt turned the young man into a formidable warrior; the two of them took out an entire lair of verbeeg (the least of the giant species, around a height of ten feet), led by a frost giant named Biggrin with only the help of Drizzt's magical black panther companion Guenhwyvar. Wulfgar then left to hunt down a white dragon, Ingeloakastimizilian, more commonly known as Icingdeath. Drizzt tracked him, and the two of them killed the dragon. Drizzt found a scimitar in the treasure hoard, and took it for his own, eventually naming it after the dragon.

As Akar Kessel moved in on Ten-Towns, his armies sweeping aside the disorganized defense with little trouble, Wulfgar took the horns of Icingdeath and challenged Heafstaag for kingship, he won the challenge, killing the old king. Drizzt, sensing the demon Errtu, and recognizing the balor from his days living in the deep underground drow city of Menzoberranzan, called the demon and faced it alone with Guenhwyvar. After a battle, and the aid of the fire-banishing properties of the scimitar Icingdeath, he managed to defeat the demon, banishing it to the abyss for one hundred years.

After defeating the demon, Drizzt used his stealth and Guenhwyvar's unnatural eyes to find his way into the Crystal Tower, Cryshal-Tirith, where he fought his way past Akar Kessel's orcs and trolls to face the wizard himself; the wizard, sure of victory, imprisoned the drow in a cage of magical light, and taunted him with images of the barbarians joining the battle for Ten Towns, thinking that Heafstaag still led them. However, Wulfgar led his people not against Ten Towns, but against Kessel. With the help of Regis, a halfling prisoner in the tower, Drizzt escaped his cage, and followed Kessel through a portal to the top of a mountain. There, after a short battle, the magical heat of Crenshinibon destabilized the snow cap, and an avalanche killed Kessel and took Drizzt back down the mountain. Crenshinibon, buried under the avalanche and blocked from the light of the sun (its power source) and weakened by Regis' destruction of Cryshal-Tirth lost its control over the orcs and goblins, who lost cohesion and were slaughtered. Bruenor, faking mortal injury, tricked Drizzt into agreeing to search for Mithral Hall, Bruenor's boyhood home.


In 1987 R.A. Salvatore sent Mary Kirchoff, then managing editor of TSR's book department, a manuscript for what would become his 1990 novel Echoes of the Fourth Magic, she liked it, but asked if he could rewrite it to take place in the Forgotten Realms. She sent him Darkwalker on Moonshae by Douglas Niles, the only novel at the time set in the Forgotten Realms. Salvatore sent her a proposal for a sequel to Darkwalker, but Kirchoff sent back a large map of the Forgotten Realms and told him she wanted a new story set in a different part of the Realms. After two weeks of phone calls, Salvatore found a spot on the map that was not already designated for another project, and he located Icewind Dale there.[1] According to Salvatore, the book was "set on the Moonshae Isles, because at the time I thought that was the Realms; when I found out how big the Realms were, I moved the story a thousand miles to the north."[2]

Salvatore had sent an early version of The Crystal Shard (what would become his first published novel) to TSR, and one day Kirchoff called him, she was on her way to a marketing meeting concerning the book, and informed him that they could not use one of the characters. He asked for time to think, but she was already late for the meeting. Off the top of his head, Salvatore said he had a Dark Elf. Kirchoff was skeptical, but Salvatore convinced her it would be fine because he was just a sidekick, she asked his name, and he replied Drizzt Do'Urden. She asked if he could spell it, and he said "not a chance".[1][3]


Banophernalia gave 3 stars for The Crystal Shard.[4]


  1. ^ a b Weinlein, Sue (December 1992). "Novel Ideas". Dragon Magazine. TSR (188): 79, 80, 84.
  2. ^ Varney, Allen (October 1998). "ProFiles: R.A. Salvatore". Dragon. Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast (#252): 120.
  3. ^ Huddleston, Kathie. "Novelist R.A. Salvatore crosses over into his newest magical realm and brings along his favorite character". Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
  4. ^ "R.A. Salvatore". Banophernalia. Retrieved 2008-03-03.