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Greg Tito | 1 Feb 2012 09:00
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Salvatore has written in the fantasy genre almost exclusively for the last few decades, and has enjoyed the mainstream acceptance of tropes that used to be shrugged off as literature that was unimportant or for children only. He has a theory as to why fantasy has become wildly popular as of late. "There are elements of fantasy that are very appealing to people. One is the magic - what percentage of people, in the country, in the world are at least agnostic if not atheistic? The number's a lot higher than any poll will tell you and one of the reasons is because of science. It's hard to find the marriage between science and faith," he said. "In fantasy, science can't explain magic so there's an element of spirituality to that, there's an element of comfort to that that I think resonates with people. I think the idea of having something that science can't explain or doesn't explain in a fantasy world is comforting.

"The idea that you can pick up a sword and go kill the dragon that's been attacking the town and save the world is very comforting."

"The other thing about fantasy is that in a fantasy world, one person can make a difference. Luke Skywalker can blow up the Death Star, Eowyn can kill the leader of the Nazgul. In our world with credit default swaps and Greece about to default and the stock market can fall five hundred points in an hour and the politicians and talk radio, all they do is fight and you don't even know who owns your mortgage anymore because it's been sold seven times. In a world like that, how does one person make a difference?" he asked.

"The idea that you can pick up a sword and go kill the dragon that's been attacking the town and save the world, essentially, is again very comforting."

With George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and its subsequent adaptation on HBO and even Christopher Nolan's Batman films, you could say that there is a trend towards grittier depictions of fantasy - more sex and gore than swords and sorcery. But Salvatore disagrees. "I don't think there is a trend," he said. "George Martin wrote some fantastic books, so what I really believe is that fantasy is big enough now that there's room for all of it." He tends to shy away from "descriptions of vomit" that he's read in some dystopian fantasy, but Salvatore realizes that stuff has an audience. "Would I change it? Absolutely not! People are reading it because they love it."

Neverwinter is the second book in Salvatore's current series, taking place after the traumatic events of Gauntlgrym. Wizards of the Coast have used Salvatore's characters to launch a massive push centered around the city of Neverwinter. In the last six months, Wizards has released the Neverwinter Campaign Setting with material for running a D&D campaign dovetailing with Drizzt's adventures, a Facebook game called Heroes of Neverwinter and a board game where you can take part in some of the events of Salvatore's books playing as Drizzt and his companions. Salvatore doesn't design any of those games, but he uses his expertise as a D&D Dungeon Master to keep his characters fresh for both his readers and himself. "The worst thing you can do is lead your players by the nose down the path that you preordained for them. That's a lousy Dungeon Master," he said. "When I'm writing books, I'm in complete control but again the story takes over so I try not to pre-plan too deeply because that fun of being surprised keeps me writing."

Greg Tito respects anyone who cosplays Drizzt.

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