I was lucky, being nine years old at exactly the right time to catch this one print run of choose-your-own-adventures. These were great fun, intelligent and witty, without forgetting their target age. The art didn't 'talk down' either, realistic dark fantasy stuff, with heads on spikes, skulls - real menace, all in a good old English setting (even if it was actually a confusion of old Britons, Saxons, Celts and Normans).
Where else were you recruited by Merlin? Where else were you given a talking, reluctant, cut-sized Excalibur rip-off? Where else did you have to write bad poetry rather than roll dice to deter the vampiric Poetic Fiend?
If more people had read these over the Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy then I might have found someone else willing to start a role-playing group later as a teenager and even now I'd probably be headbanging to Rammstein, wearing a lot of black t-shirts, embarrassingly tatooed, with perhaps a couple of rusty piercings - I've had a narrow escape.
on 21 September 2012
Absolutely loved this book. You play as Pip, recruited by Merlin to sort out the evil wizard Ansalom. Unlike many other fantasy adventures of its time, the writing style is light-hearted and at times hilarious.
Some slight problems in the route that you need to take - for example there is one bit where I swear the only way to proceed is to fall down a pit trap, otherwise you just go around in circles.
The fighting system is a bit heavy on the arithmetic - you need to add up and subtract whole bunch of things each time but you soon find shortcuts. Some wonderful innovations and ideas though - You carry a talking sword called Excalibur Junior (EJ); to regain life points you can sleep but then you risk going to the dangerous world of dreamtime; some of the characters, most notable Merlin, are fully aware that you are playing a gamebook and will talk about life points and rolling dice etc.
Bit too easy since you start armed to the teeth with EJ, dragonskin armour and a load of magic spells. But for the first gamebook I suppose that makes sense (The sequels get gradually more difficult)