The Bad Points: The characters do at times seem a bit superheroish. Some of the dialogue can be corny at times. Also, some things are a bit TOO farfetched, even for fantasy.(bringing to mind the Harkles' palace and the fact that a severed troll limb will grow another troll!) And yes, Mithril Hall is a clear replica of Moria, with some of The Hobbit thrown in as well. These things as a whole are the reason for my four stars.
The Good Points: Salvatore does know how to write those action sequences, and he's realistic in describing the battles, and death, since he doesn't try to "sanitize" either one. Characterization is not superb, but it's certainly not poor either. These things make the book enjoyable and entertaining- I was not bored while reading this book. And probably the best thing about this book is the introduction of Artemis Entreri. The plot is complex and the story has a good ending that sets up things nicely for the third book.
All in all, this book is good. His writing has inproved noticeably from the first book. For those of you who are about ready to write him off because of those bad points I listed, I say give him a chance. This is only his second book. I've already read the Dark Elf Trilogy, which he wrote after this series, and I can say for sure that it is MUCH better. It's definately more mature, and I wouldn't call it "light" fantasy, nor would I call this book light either. And I certainly wouldn't call any of his books "popcorn fantasy." If you're looking for good fiction, don't let the Forgotten Realms logo fool you- Salvatore does not write games, except for maybe a few elements in his first few books. I know for sure that the Dark Elf Trilogy has no RPG elements. So if you're looking for some good fantasy, try R. A. Salvatore. The truth is, he can entertain many readers who are non-AD&D - readers like myself.