Literature / The Sellswords

The Sellswords is a book trilogy by R.A. Salvatore that focuses on the stoic human assassin Artemis Entreri and the opportunistic dark elf mercanary Jarlaxle. A spin-off of Salvatore's Drizzt novels, these novels are different from Salvatore's usual Forgotten Realms novels in that it stars a duo of Villain Protagonists.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Always Someone Better: Artemis used to be unable to stand the fact he wasn't the strongest swordsman alive. However, his experiences in Menzoberrazan taught him much-needed humility. As a result, he doesn't take it personally when he gauges the fact the Royal Family of Bloodstone could kick his ass every which way from Sunday.
  • Antihero: Jarlaxle and Artemis are brilliant examples thereof.
  • Artifact of Doom: Much of the first book deals with Jarlaxle's attempt to find a magical fortress he can use to build his own kingdom.
  • Break Them by Talking: Used brilliantly by Jarlaxle to get Entreri a royal pardon after Entreri declares himself king of Vaasa and is taken down after his army is utterly destroyed.
  • Broken Aesop: The fact a Paladin King authorizes the genocide of the local humanoids, including buying their ears. Many readers decided he'd crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Chaotic Neutral/Neutral Evil: invoked Jarlaxle's canonical alignment varies between the two. He acts NE during the main Drizzt series (as a mercenary who only gets involved in drow power struggles when he's getting paid), but is closer to CN in The Sellswords.
  • Character Development: Artemis slowly starts to regain a bit of his humanity, including the ability to love and feel affection for other individuals. He's still a bastard but he's no longer a psychopath.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Servant of the Shard is about various criminal organizations trying to gain control of a powerful magical artifact. Naturally, there are backstabbings and betrayals galore.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Artemis Entreri is very skilled at using his surroundings and nearby objects against his foes and doesn't hesitate to use any kind of skullduggery if it will help him win.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jarlaxle! A complete list of all the magical items and weapons he carries around with him would double or triple the length of this entry. Lots of them come in handy during his travels with Entreri.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is a considerably more morally gray book than the main series.
  • Enemy Mine: Cadderly (from The Cleric Quintet) joins forces with Artemis and Jarlaxle to destroy the Crystal Shard.
  • Evil Weapon: Charon's Claw, an evil sentient sword. But Artemis has such a high degree of mental discipline and willpower that he is able to dominate the weapon and force it to serve him.
  • Fantastic Racism: Played with as Bloodstone is such a hellhole a Drow like Jarlaxle doesn't draw much interest. However, they offer bounties for the ears of goblins or other humanoids. Jarlaxle exploits the fact of this to rouse the locals against the Paladin King of the region.
  • Freudian Excuse: We finally find out why Artemis is the way he was. His mother was raped and/or used as a prostitute by a corrupt branch of the Selune clergy, which resulted in his conception. He was thus raised in horrific poverty beside their immense wealth as his mother died in destitution like so many other girls misused by them.
  • Heroic Willpower: Artemis is able to bend Charon's Claw to his will though sheer mental strength. His iron willpower also makes him immune to the lure of the Crystal Shard.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Once the Royal Family of Bloodstone get wind of the pair's plot, it's more or less over as they're Epic Level Heroes who can squash the leads like bugs.
  • Lack of Empathy: Artemis has always possessed this but Jarlaxle, of all people, gradually coaxes him out of it.
  • MacGuffin: The Shard in Servant of the Shard.
  • Mordor: Bloodstone and its surrounding territories are this due to centuries of misrule by Zhengyi the Lich King.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Jarlaxle introduces himself as Drizzt Do'Urden, legendary Defector from Decadence amongst the Drow. Also, in actuality, his often-enemy.
    • Jarlaxle's plan to make Artemis Entreri, King of Vaasa.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Paladin King of Bloodstone and his court are a bunch of epic-level adventurers who carved their land out of something approximating Hell on Earth.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Artemis gets some much-much needed revenge on his father.
  • Villain Protagonist: Artemis and Jarlaxle are pretty horrible people, objectively, though both have mellowed considerably from their earlier appearances in the series.
  • Wham Line: The very end of Servant of the Shard:
    Jarlaxle Baenre, the third son of Matron Baenre, once sacrificed to Lady Lolth by his mother and his siblings, knew better than to trust his own brother.