As far as adventure gamebooks go this one has some fantastically written sections/paragraphs and a great storyline. But as an adventure gamebook it is an utter disaster.
Unusually for gamebooks (and ‘Sagas of the Demonspawn’ is perhaps the only gamebook series to do this as far as I’m aware) it is written in a third person perspective. It is certainly a different approach to the norm but it really doesn’t work. The whole point of adventure gamebooks is so that the reader can play the main protagonist and become utterly absorbed and involved in the adventure and the world in which it is set. The immersive nature is completely ruined when at the end of a paragraph/section the reader is presented with something along the lines of “Fire*Wolf has found himself in a difficult situation. What do you think he should do?” rather than the more usual “do you want to do X or Y”. It deliberately reminds the adventurer that they’re reading, thus ruining the atmosphere and breaking dramatic tension.
The instructions also leave a lot to be desired. I found myself checking to see whether I was missing pages. There is basically no mention of how to restore life points or how you carry or use equipment or gold. The system of weapons and armour lacks any worthwhile explanation. Armour doesn’t really come into the adventure anyway and you aren’t told what weapon most of your opponents are using. The author has gone to a lot of trouble to devise an elaborate magic system but failed to explain under what circumstances you are able to use it. The reader is left with no idea whether spells can only be used during combat or not, whether spells must be cast at the start of combat, whether only one spell can be used per combat, whether casting a spell is in addition or not to using your sword during a combat round, etc. The same problems arise when you face the Regent. There is a lot of detail about all the spells he can cast but as to when or how many times he can cast them or how he selects which to cast is anybody’s guess.
The combat system is terribly flawed and over-convoluted. As the author condescendingly keeps reminding the reader, you do understand and get used to it pretty quickly but then it is only all the more apparent that it’s not very good. Combat is a long laborious and unfulfilling task for the reader involving lots of dice rolls, annoying calculations and a lack of interactive feel. The author has tried to make it depend upon many factors and completely missed out factoring in fighting/combat skill/ability. Luck with the dice and your actual LUCK score play a big role. Statistics of enemy opponents are also located at the back of the book rather than in the section you are currently on. I can see no reason for this and it is just annoying. Furthermore there are no rules for combat against more than one opponent.
But by far the biggest problems with this book comes from some absolutely appalling editing and proof reading. Reading this book as a child when it was first published I could never complete it and considered it one of the most difficult gamebooks. I now realise that this book is actually impossible to complete as it is due to it being riddled with errors that make it unplayable. Whatever you do, wherever you go, whichever options you select will always take you to section 122, which, although a congratulatory section, fails to re-direct you anywhere else. It merely tells you to check out the selection of spells you now have at your disposal at the back of the book. I believe the only possibility is that it should re-direct you to section 124. I can’t see how else this adventure can be completed.
Here are a few more pointers that might help you out if you are trying to complete this adventure:
1) Paragraph 170 should re-direct you to paragraph 180 if you are successful in testing your ATTRACTION (it only re-directs you if you fail).
2) Paragraph 131 should at least give you one SKILL point.
3) Paragraph 160 should probably give you the option of going to 178.
4) Numerous paragraphs tell you to return to your key failing to tell you that’s at 146.
The adventure sheet appears to have been designed by someone who hasn’t read the book and is extremely minimalistic. There is nowhere to list equipment, weapons or gold and two of the most vital of your statistics, POWER and SKILL, have been missed off.
It’s extremely irritating that a storyline with much potential to be a great adventure gamebook has been ruined by a lack of care and attention. It completely doesn’t function as a gamebook.
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Distribution Services (27 September 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006169511
- ISBN-13: 978-0006169512
- Package Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.8 x 2.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 159 g
- Customer Reviews: 1 customer rating