The Sellswords is a trilogy of fantasy novels written by R. A. Salvatore, whose related works include The Legend of Drizzt series and The Hunter's Blades Trilogy. It contains three books, Servant of the Shard (also included as the third book in the Paths of Darkness quartet, which books were later published as the 11th through 14th books of The Legend of Drizzt), Promise of the Witch King, and Road of the Patriarch. It continues the tale of the infamous assassin, Artemis Entreri, previously featured in books as Drizzt Do'Urden's self-proclaimed archenemy, and the cunning drow mercenary, Jarlaxle, previously relevant as the leader of Bregan D'aerthe, an outlaw group of drow based primarily in and around Menzoberranzan, that does business mostly with the drow of Menzoberranzan. Continuing the story of Artemis and Jarlaxle told in the Paths of Darkness series, Artemis and Jarlaxle begin an adventure that tests their skills, their minds, and their souls. While the two characters are antagonists in the Drizzt Do'Urden series, in The Sellswords trilogy they are the main characters of some of the few books in Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels that do not focus on the legendary drow warrior, Drizzt Do'Urden, as the hero of the novel. The Sellswords develops the two characters more deeply than was possible in the other Salvatore books, giving the reader an in depth view of the mind of the cold, calculating Artemis Entreri and the ambitious, opportunistic Jarlaxle.
- Servant of the Shard (2000)
- Promise of the Witch King (2005)
- Road of the Patriarch (2006)
Servant of the Shard
After regaining his confidence and will to live (lost in Paths of Darkness, when Drizzt Do'Urden seemed to have died without being defeated fairly by Artemis, thus apparently taking from him the ability to prove to himself that he was a better fighter), Artemis Entreri finds himself allied with the mercenary Jarlaxle as the drow's tie to the surface world. Caught in the plans of Jarlaxle's band, Bregan D'aerthe, Artemis finds himself back in Calimport, the city in which he became known as one of the greatest assassins in Faerûn. Without many ties to the city after spending his time in captivity to the drow, Entreri must once again make his name known while trying to survive against the guilds of Calimport and Jarlaxle's lieutenants, Berg'inyon Baenre, Raiguy Bondalek, and Kimmuriel Oblodra. At the same time Jarlaxle succumbs to the mental intrusions of the crystal shard, Crenshinibon, as it pushes Jarlaxle to fulfill his unending ambitions. This is also the third novel in the Paths of Darkness series.
Promise of the Witch-King
Leaving behind their past, Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle Baenre become mercenaries in the lands of Damara and Vaasa where fame and glory await any who seek it. They are hired by two dragon sisters, Ilnezhara and Tazmikella, to uncover artifacts left behind by Zhengyi the Witch-King, a powerful lich who ruled the region for many years before falling to the power of King Gareth Dragonsbane and his allies. In search of adventure, glory, and treasure, the pair of unlikely heroes embarks on their mission to destroy, or retrieve, the remaining remnants of Zhengyi's power. In the village of Palishchuk, a half-orc woman, Arrayan Faylin, falls under the spell of the vanquished Zhengyi when she attempts to decipher a tome he left behind. The spell drains her life force to form an exact replica of Castle Perilous, the citadel from which the Witch-King once ruled. Jarlaxle and Entreri join forces with a group of adventurers, including Commander Ellery, legendary hero Mariabronne the Rover, assassins Athrogate and Canthan, the half-elf warrior Calihye, and half-orcs Arrayan and Olgerkhan and set out to investigate the fortress facsimile. After a battle against some monsters, Calihye's close friend, Parissus is killed falling out of a wagon driven by Entreri. Blaming him for the woman's death, Calihye vows to kill him but has different thoughts after Entreri effortlessly disarms her and promises to kill her slowly if she ever threatens him again. As with the original Castle Perilous, the citadel's magic creates an endless supply of gargoyles, who begin to attack the heroes, as well as the poorly defended town of Palishchuk, where Calihye and another injured member of their party are nestled. Jarlaxle and company defeat the gargoyles easily enough and manage to infiltrate the castle, where they split up. Arrayan, having sustained too many wounds compounded with the life-draining burden of the spell, is on her last legs. The wizard Canthan turns on Entreri but proves to be overmatched by the dangerous assassin and is perfunctorily killed. In a rare moment of compassion, Entreri drags the dying body of Arrayan's lover, who is also sharing the burden of the castles dark magic, over to Canthan, and, as the wizard breathes his last breath, places the half-orc's hand upon his dagger to suck Canthan's remaining life force and heal her. An isolated Mariabronne stumbles upon a chamber with demon eggs hanging from the ceiling. The eggs hatch and Mariabronne manages to defeat them, but is stung in the process and injected with deadly venom. Commander Ellery is left alone with Jarlaxle and attempts to assassinate him. A fight promptly ensues, although Jarlaxle seems reluctant to kill her, as they have been lovers for some time and the opportunistic mercenary would always prefer to bed women than slay them, but Entreri shows up and mortally wounds her with his jeweled dagger. When the remnants of the band reunite, Athrogate takes it upon himself to do what Canthan could not and proceeds to duel against Entreri. Despite all his considerable skill, Entreri's parry and thrust style of fighting is no match for Athrogate's deadly morningstars. He would have promptly been killed but for Jarlaxle, who tosses a dimensional hole concealed in his hat at the dwarf. Athrogate becomes imprisoned in a void and agrees to obey Jarlaxle in return for his freedom. The five remaining companions venture into the heart of the castle, where they are met by a powerful dracolich who served as a minion for Zhengyi. Seemingly unstoppable, the dracolich gives the heroes a hellacious fight, but is finally defeated when Entreri's enchanted dragon statue spews dragon flame upon it. Jarlaxle, never one to pass up powerful magic, quickly salvages the soul of the dracolich, contained in a skull pendant, as well as a magical figurine for summoning a nightmare steed off Mariabronne's corpse.
Pat Ferrara of mania.com comments: "The second book of arguably the coolest Forgotten Realms literary spin-off to date, Promise of the Witch-King continues the Sellswords Series without skipping a beat. Tightly knit plotlines, absurd yet memorable and engaging characters, and hellishly fast-paced storytelling culminate in a wild melee of swords and sorcery led by the master himself."
Road of the Patriarch
In the final episode of this series, Jarlaxle and Entreri find themselves having to answer for their actions at Zhengyi's construct. Both the Spysong network and the Citadel of Assassins have lost associates at the castle and search for a hero.
Artemis Entreri finds himself uncharacteristically falling in love with the half-elf Calihye, the result of a magical flute given to him by Jarlaxle which forces the owner into a heightened emotional state. Entreri is betrayed by Calihye who still blames him for the death of Parissus. She attempts to stab him in the heart with a dagger while making love to him but is foiled by a kinetic barrier conjured by Kimmuriel.
Jarlaxle seizes control of Castle Perilous and is summarily attacked by an army led by King Gareth himself. He immediately surrenders and confesses that he made an open bid for power against the king in order to unite the people of Palishchuk under Gareth's banner, willingly playing the part of a common enemy. Despite the queen's insistence that Entreri and Jarlaxle be executed for treason, they are permitted, along with Athrogate, to leave the city with his life with the promise that they will never again enter the kingdom.
The trio head for Memnon, Entreri finally deciding to face his inner demons and confront the city of his birth. Entreri soon discovers that the city is in the iron grip of a corrupt high priest who impoverishes the people through fear demanding they pay indulgences in exchange for the promise that their dead children will go to a pleasant afterlife. Entreri learns that the high priest knew his mother intimately and might even be his biological father. Disgusted by the obscene luxury of the priest's palace and the resulting destitution of the city's non-clerical inhabitants, Entreri kills the high priest and orders the palace's second-in-command, on penalty of a similar fate as his superior, to redistribute the acquired riches among those who need it.
In the end, Jarlaxle admits that he gave Entreri the flute in the hope that, in embracing emotions he'd suppressed since his traumatic childhood, he would rediscover his heart and find a purpose in life other than power. The story ends with Jarlaxle and Entreri parting ways, the latter saying he wants nothing to do with him ever again.
The audio recording of Road of the Patriarch received a favorable review from California Bookwatch, which praised all aspects of the novel, including the plot, the action, and the narration by David Colacci.
- "Brilliance Audio". California Bookwatch. December 1, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2013. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)