I’m not sure I really would have picked this one out myself, but I was given the Highwayman, by R.A. Salvatore as a gift. Having read some of his other novels (The Icewind Dale Trilogy, the Dark Elf Trilogy, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones), I have to say that I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some of his books were rather enjoyable including the books with his notable star character Drizzt Do’Urden. His novelization of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, on the other hand, was a bit weak, especially towards the end where I continue to believe (for his sake) that he was running out of time.
The Highwayman is the first book in the Saga of the First King. It sets up the story of the title character Bransen, the son of a monk and a martial artist. Bran, monk of Blessed Abelle, is sent on a mission where he falls in love with and marries Sen Wi, a martial artist. Their marriage, however, is not sanctioned by the Church, and both of them end up being tragic heroes, dying not long after the birth of their son, Bransen. Bransen, having injuries sustained while in the womb, has difficulties with the local populace as well as with the monks who are forced against their will to raise and protect him. Bransen, however, has some of the knowledge of his mother’s martial arts skills, and, as things progress, becomes a formidable fighter.
Personally, I found very little originality in this story. If I had to compare it to anything, I would describe it as a cross between Robin Hood and Spiderman. I’m not sure if he really meant it to be a retelling of the Robin Hood story, but that is what he created. And I’m not sure that he did anything to improve upon the original.
Even worse, with the exception of a brief bit of excitement in the prologue, the majority of the novel seemed to just be setting up the rest of the series. The title character doesn’t even really join the story until around chapter 14, halfway through the novel. I appreciate the fact that Salvatore wants to set things up in a way that provides a believable back story and doesn’t seem too rushed, but I think half a novel is asking a bit much of any reader. I found the plodding pace akin to that of Eragon and Eldest, but without the mystery and plot twists that make it worth struggling through the more tedious parts.
All in all, I’d have to say that you can skip the Highwayman. If you really want to see R.A. Salvatore at his best, I’d recommend reading any of his Forgotten Realms series’ instead, especially those which include Drizzt Do’Urden.