The interesting thing about this book is that Salvatore says himself that he was inspired to write having read Lord of the Rings and this book really chronicles the coming together of a fellowship before embarking on their quest just like The Fellowship of the Ring. That though is where the similarities ends.
The thing about Forgotten Realms novels is that they are written, I believe, with a target audience of 14 to 6 year old boys in mind. Reading them now you should not be looking for great literature, all the Drizzt novels are just a damn good read and great fun but they are not deep, meaningful or challenging. If you have read the novels in order then the fact that this was written first is really quite amazing, It really does feel like part of a continuum from the end of Sojourn rather than the first three books being an extended bolt on prequel.
If you are a roleplayer then the thing about these books is the combat, we all like killing things, wading through orcs, goblins, ogres and all the rest of the goblinkind. The combat portrayed in these books is not DnD combat where you are grinding down the hitpoints and D8 of damage at a time. These books are Rolemaster combats where your strike to the back of the knee slashes tendons and muscle and drops your opponent or you slash severs the trolls arm.
Back to the book though, it is a good read, on Amazon amazon there are second hand copies sellig for 70p and it makes you feel like a 14yr old again. It is almost a guilty pleasure. What more reason do you need to give it a go?