Thursday, August 4, 2011

Artemis Entreri

This name probably doesn't sound familiar to most of you, but today I have a rant about a fictional character from one of my favorite book series, The Legend of Drizzt. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, you can skip this post since laying out the background information behind the ranting's specifics would take too much time.

When Artemis first debuted as a character I loved his story.
Artemis - A cold-hearted assassin who has devoted  sacrificed his entire life to become the best swordsman alive meets Drizzt on the battlefield.
Drizzt - A dark elf whose skill with the blade matches Entreri's perfectly.
However, there remains one crucial difference between their two lives. Drizzt has friends, companions, people who care about him and fight alongside him. This difference cuts Artemis deeper than any blade ever has. If Drizzt surpasses him, or even equals him, in swordsmanship then his entire life has been wasted. This fuels Artemis' obsession with defeating Drizzt in combat.

Furthermore, Entreri must deal with his limited human lifespan and the knowledge that Drizzt will live many times longer than he. Indeed, Entreri, about 40 years of age upon introduction, has already reached his physical peak. He knows that even if he proves a better fighter than the dark elf now, his edge will fade in but a few years time, whereas Drizzt will remain in top form for centuries to come.

All of these psychological issues that Entreri must face made him the compelling character he was. I completely sympathized (sadly I could not empathize) with his frustration.

In time, after Drizzt bests him on several occasions, Entreri comes to terms with his life and his mortality. At this point everything turned towards a great conclusion. He could have a few more stories with him as the protagonist, doin' his thang. But then the author, R.A. Salvatore, made an extremely poor plot decision in my opinion.

Artemis carries a jeweled dagger that allows him to drain the life-force out of people, yeah? Well, in one of his later books, ol' Arty drains the life-force out of an otherworldly being and some of that being's essence fuses with his own. Some of the effects: He regains the vitality of a man about half his age and his aging slows down considerably. How considerably? Well, he'll probably live about as long as Drizzt would now. Oh frabjous day! Callooh callay! Right? WRONG. This is cheap. You just robbed Artemis of one of the things that defined his identity. He had to deal with his (comparatively) imminent mortality and move on, but now? You should have just made him an elf or something to start with. All those pages of character development and you just threw it away Salvatore. But hey, now you can keep writing stories for him for years to come because he has plenty of life left in him now, eh? God dammit.