Well, with the popularity that Drizzt gained from the Icewind Dale trilogy it seems that we were always going to be given a look into his life before he became a hero in that sense, and this book takes us right back to the beginning of his life when he was growing up as a young male drow in the underground city of Menzoberranzan. Once again, while some might suggest that this book could be picked apart by some guy doing a master's thesis (and it probably has already been done) I feel that the fact that in the end this book really only serves to broaden the scope and understanding of the nature of a fantasy race in a fantasy world that is simply only a product of a fantasy game is going to end up pushing it back onto the shelves of the airport novel.
I believe I may have considered writing about the Drow as a race of pure evil, but then again why are the Drow so much different form us as human beings? Maybe it is because some of the evil things of which we humans are capable are so shocking, that the only way we can face them is to create a fantasy race and bestow all of those traits into this race as a way of freeing ourselves from this guilt.
In a way there is a lot that I can write about the nature of the drow and how this particular, well developed mind you, Dungeons and Dragons race is really a reflection of everything that we hate within ourselves. I remember that from early on in my Dungeons and Dragons life, and in fact in the life of the game itself, the drow have feature prominently as the epitome of the evil race. For instance one of the really early adventures, the adventures that morphed into the supermodule known as Queen of the Spiders, was based around the drow and their spider queen Lolth. As the game developed, so did the drow, with sourcebooks being released specifically for them (and I remember that a sourcebook on the drow was actually released before one on orcs, and even then the orcs were simply squeezed into a book that dealt with all humanoids).
Fortunately I have three books in which I can continue this theme, so I think I might finish this particular commentary off on discussing the differences between the orcs and the drow. I suspect that what the orcs (at least the Dungeons and Dragons version of them, not the Tolkeinesque versions) is that they symbolise everything that is base and barbaric within us humans. I use orcs as a catch-all for all humanoids, from goblins to bugbears and gnolls. In many cases the only difference between these races is their strength, so in a way they are all what we consider barbaric in ourselves, and by forcing that aspect into another race, and then slaughtering them like cattle, it is almost a psychological desire to destroy that within us which is barbaric.
I will not go onto any further with Orc culture since here we are talking
about Drow. Now, for those who are unfamiliar with the setting, Drow are basically elves that have succumbed to evil and have been cursed with an aversion to light. As the orc represents barbarity, the elves represent all that is beautiful and cultured in us, and in a way it is a goal or a desire that we wish to reach. This is why Elves are allowed as player characters in the Dungeons and Dragons world, and probably why they are so popular. We are repulsed by the orc, but attracted by the elf. This is also a reflection of the Tolkeinesque elf, which is supposed to be humanity in its unfallen state.
However, the drow is a corruption of that ideal, in not that they are not beautiful - they are incredibly beautiful - but rather that this perfection reaches a point where hubris takes hold and that perfection is corrupted. The power that this brings, and the desire to ascend even further from perfection in turn corrupts us and sends us plummeting back deep into the earth, which is why the drow fear the sunlight, and which is why they live in the depths of the Earth with ebony dark skin. It is that corrupting aspect of our desire to reach perfection that brings out the drow that lurks in all of us.