HERO'S VILLAINS AND ROGUES
"First Citizen!" came a call from the street. The voice belonged to a warehouseman from the southern section of the city, where the merchant caravans loaded and unloaded. Regis waited for his approach.
"A man, First Citizen," the warehouseman said, bowing apologetically for disturbing so important a person. "Asking about you. He claims to be a representative from the Heroes Society in Luskan, sent to request your presence at their next meeting. He said that he would pay you well."
"He gave none, just this!" The warehouseman opened a small pouch of gold.
It was all that Regis needed to see. He left at once for the rendezvous with the man from Luskan. Once again, sheer luck saved the halfling's life, for he saw the stranger before the stranger saw him. He recognized the man at once, though he hadn't seen him in years, by the emerald-encrusted dagger hilt protruding from the sheath on his hip. Regis had often contemplated stealing that beautiful weapon, but even he had a limit to his foolhardiness. The dagger belonged to Artemis Entreri.
Pasha Pook's prime assassin. - The Crystal Shard
He was born out of the fertile mind of R. A. Salvatore. His appearance was brief, a "stinger" scene near the end of the novel, The Crystal Shard, the first book in the Icewind Dale series, that brought one of the best written foes, into the Forgotten Realms. Artemis Entreri. His entrance is brief and his background is a mystery. We just know that he's hunting one of the companions, Regis, and his reputation is such, that the halfling would rather be on the road, suffering from the lack of creature comforts that his new found fame would give him, than have to deal with the deadly assassin.
Artemis Entreri finally makes himself known to the companions in Streams of Silver, the second book in the Icewind Dale trilogy, where he hounds the characters, as they search for the mythical dwarven city of Mithril Hall. Artemis, who was charged by Pasha Pook to find Regis, located him in the farthest reaches of the known world, a place called Ten-towns. A loose collection of villages beyond the mountain range of the Spine of the World, filled with unending glaciers, giants, dangerous beasts, and a small population of people that have checkered pasts and don't want to be found.
After having been confronted by the deadly assassin at the end of the first book, Regis, who had never been upfront about why he had come to Icewind Dale, decided that it would be best if the Companions of the Hall depart on their adventure as soon as possible. Wary of their little friend, the companions did just that and during their adventure came across one of their greatest foes and, what turned out to be their greatest ally.
Born to a prostitute, abused and sold into slavery at nine years old. Artemis Entreri had to learn to survive for himself or let others take advantage of him. Escaping his masters in one of the major southern cities of the Forgotten Realms, Entreri was able to use his wits and his abilities to survive in a place where the many thieves guilds ruled the land.
It was one of these thieves guilds, run by a man that went by the name of Pasha Basadoni, that took notice of the young Entreri. Impressed by his abilities to carve out a small empire in the shanty towns that was under the protectiong of the Basadoni Thieves Guild, Entreri was given the opportunity to better his life by working for them. Seeing as how he really had no choice. He could continue to defy the thieves guild, but it would catch up to him one day and the consequences would probably be dire. Artemis, sensing that he needed this, joined the guild. Here he learned the tricks of the trade and was able to Quickly move up in the ranks, earning himself quite the repuation as an efficient and deadly assassin.
When he felt that he was ready, Artemis moved, eventually ending up in Pasha Pooks guild and from there, his life would change forever. For the better and for the worse. The great thing about Artemis Entreri, is that he is a character of such strong conviction and belief, that when reading what's he's saying, you really want to scream at the character about how lost and wrong he is in his outlook on life. As if you could grab him and shake him, until he comes to his senses.
This is the mark of an excellent writer, one that is able to pull you into his world, make you care about his characters, good guy or bad guy, because they are so well fleshed out. It feels real.
It was in the book Streams of Silver, that Entreri first encounters his nemeis, Drizzt Do'Urden. A Drow ranger of some renown. The pair was so evenly matched that Entreri, who's ego and dignity was shattered, did the only thing he could. He took Regis hostage and fled, completing his mission for Pasha Pook. Where it was learned that Entreri was hired by Pook to recover his prized ruby pendant, a powerful artifact that could hypnotize people to do their bidding for whoever held the gem.
These events set into motion a heated rivalry between Drizzt and Artemis. One that would rage across the years. Artemis, who thought he could defeat the drow, tried, time and again to get the better of his hated foe. After the Companions of the Hall had rescued Regis and took back Mithril Hall, Entreri returned disguised as Regis to try and sow the seeds of doubt into the close friends. Nearly succeeding until he was found out to be an imposter, Drizzt and Entreri fought on the slopes of the Spine of the World, near the hall, only to be defeated again by the better prepared and, possibly, lucky Drow.
After nearly dying in the fight, Artemis was rescued by the rogue Drow, Jarlaxle. A mercenary from the Drow city of Menzoberranazn and the leader of Bregan D'aerthe, Jarlaxle took an interest in Artemis Entreri, thinking that the assassin would be more at home in the Drow city of the Underdark than anywhere else, and as a test of the man's mettle. This opened Entreri's eyes. Here he was, in a strange city, filled with people that were exactly like him. Highly skilled assassins. All he wanted to
do was leave this ugly place and he had no idea of how to get out.
This was all a part of Jarlaxle's greater plan. Sowing the seeds of chaos within the city, as was Lloth's will, Jarlaxle was able to get Drizzt and his friends to return to Menzoberranzan. Drizzt was captured by Jarlaxle and given over to the ruling Matron Mother of House Baenre. The mercenary Drow always has secondary plans and Jarlaxle, not wanting to see Drizzt destroyed, planted the seeds of escape in Artemis Entreri's mind. With the help of Drizzt and Catti-brie, another companion of the hall, the three of them were able to escape back to the surface, where Artemis, who was, at this point, confused, depressed, and a shell of the man he once was, returned to Calimport, his home.
Entreri became obsessed with defeating the Drow ranger. Always searching for him, trying to find his weaknesses where none could be found. He was also jealous of the Drow, who seemingly had everything he had ever wanted. A Home, friends and family and his optimistic outlook on life. Everything that Entreri wasn't.
The pair would soon meet up again, but Entreri's traveling companion Jarlaxle soon got tired of Entreri's obsession with Drizzt and set up a "final" battle, where Entreri and Drizzt would finally fight to the death. With Entreri defeating his nemesis and being able to move on with his life.
Although Artemis would go on many adventures, especially with the Drow mercenary Jarlaxle. He ended up disappearing for a time, only to return as Barrabus the Grey, a part shade servant to Herzgo Alegni, a Netherese lord who had obtained Artemis' magical sword Charon's Claw and tied the assassin's soul to it, forcing Entreri to serve him. Entreri would break free of Alegni's grasp, after teaming up with his long hated rival, Drizzt Do'Urden. Entreri found that he no longer harbored hatred for Drizzt and that he actually envied the Drow.
Since the ending of the Neverwinter Series, Entreri has teamed up with the Drow and his companions, finally giving in to some of his hard held beliefs that friendship, love, and trust are nothing but weakness.
The reason Artemis Entreri is such a good foil (because villain isn't the right word) in R. A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books, is because he is a tragic "hero". He starts off as a villain, in the characters eyes, but he's just doing a job that he was hired to do. He becomes obsessed with Drizzt Do'Urden, because of feelings long since repressed. Drizzt is everything that Entreri wants, but is afraid to go after. In the end, Entreri accepts his past and is almost ready to move on. Finding friendship with those he thought were enemies and even love.
R. A. Salvatore is able to do this, without compromising the character. Change is inevitable and if people want to grow, they have to change. It's just how it works and that's what makes Artemis Entreri an interesting character. He thinks he's the best, he believes he's the best at what he does. He then finds out that there are others out there like him and possibly better at his craft than he is and when these things happen, he starts to question his reality.
He's also resistant to changing who he is, because he's afraid that that change will lead to his downfall. He will become soft. What Entreri doesn't realize is that accepting friends and love makes him a better person. We get to see his growth in each of the books he is in and in the end, he's a different person, but his character is never fundamentally changed. It's a difficult line to walk when writing characters like this, but R. A. Salvatore seems to have mastered it.
This is just an overview of Artemis Entreri, our first look at a character who on the surface appears to be a villain, but ends up being a sort of hero.