I just noticed that one of the authors of this book (and a couple of other Fighting Fantasy gamebooks) is actually a BBC journalist who has also written books on the Global Financial Crisis. Oh wouldn't it be good to be in a position like that where one can write fantasy gamebooks and also write serious topical works. I wonder if any of the Wizards of the Coast authors can actually claim to be able to do that, because all of the big names over the Atlantic seem to end up writing only gaming materials. For instance I have not seen any works from Nigel Findlay about the rise of the corporatocracy, nor anything by Ed Greenwood regarding the culture of Medieval France. Still, what can more can you expect.
Anyway, I sort of wondered about this particular book because at first it seemed to be poorly but together and confusing, until I discovered that I had jumped to the wrong paragraph. When I went through it again, I realised that it was actually much better that I first thought, though I noticed from when I first glanced at it that it had potential. Basically you begin the book with no knowledge of anything, and things are slowly revealed to you as you make your way through, right down to your childhood experiences. It is also an incredibly hard, and deadly, book, though fortunately a solution can be found here:
Basically you are one of two sons of an evil king that had previously been defeated and cast out of the land. However you and your brother were spirited away and hidden on an island. Your brother has since been released, and then you awaken and must first of all find out who you how, and that information comes slowly. Your brother has raised an army and is fighting against the other king, who happens to be a child with no idea of what is going on. However, there is also a catch. You simply cannot kill your brother, because you still have the blood of your father in you, which means that if you defeat him, you lose, because you simply become another evil king.
This book is pretty hard, though it runs like numerous of the other later books where a wrong decision means you jump a large portion of the adventure and miss out on some important things. On the other hand, you might go one way when you should have gone the other, which means you miss out on important items. However, they do say that these books generally cannot be completed the first time round. There is one gripe, as somebody pointed out, and that is that an essential item to win the game requires you to fail a luck test, which is really annoying.
The interesting thing about this particular gamebook is that it jumps straight into the adventure. There is no background (which would defeat the purpose as you are supposed to know nothing) and you do not even roll your stats at the beginning, rather you roll the stats when you get to a specific point (and the rules have changed slightly as well, for instance you only add four to your initial skill as opposed to the usual six). Further, as you go through various encounters you discover that you have magical abilities, and thus learn spells (four in total, and you need all to complete the adventure). Another interesting trick that is used is by giving you objects that have no purpose whatsoever than to simply say you have been somewhere. For instance you pick up a broken arrow after seeing the remains of a defeated army, and when you are asked if you have the broken arrow, you then tell somebody about the defeated army.
There are a lot of interesting new techniques used in this particular game book which actually makes it a cut above many of the others that I have read. Okay, I ended up using the cheat, but that had more to do with me wanting to get through it so I could write this commentary than anything else. Unfortunately, now that I know how to finish it (and there really is only one true way) that has stuck with me. Oh well.