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Grail Quest: Gateway of Doom Bk. 3 (A Solo fantasy gamesbook) Paperback – Illustrated, 15 Nov 1984
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This book is one long dungeon crawl; and it often feels very like a crawl. There are several maps that lay out the particular levels of the Ghastly Kingdom. Each of these have multiple rooms/destinations that are represented by a number that corresponds to the reference you are required to turn to. Between each room are gridded squares which you must traverse whilst encountering ‘wandering monsters’. Such an approach is closer to the various D and D/wargames that inspired adventure gamebooks. It doesn’t really work to have an adventure gamebook structured in such a manner as it results in the reader being his own dungeon/games master. It would probably work better and be more enjoyable with multiple players.
The main problem though is that there are multiple random teleports that send you back to much earlier areas. Likewise, if you die you return to the start of the dungeon. In both cases all you’ve done or encountered remains done. This results in traipsing back through vast areas with nothing to do but clash with ‘wandering monsters’. You can easily spend an hour at a time doing this only immediately to be teleported again. This becomes extremely monotonous very quickly and ruins any atmosphere. There is an item that will defend you against these teleports but that can only be found relatively late in the adventure and has limited use.
This format often means the book lacks story, especially as the plot is very basic anyway. The only real pay-off occurs if you have read the previous books as the Black Knight finally appears. However, there is no decent explanation for why. It feels like a bit of an anticlimactic clash.
The lack of story is, supposedly, to be covered by the humour. Although I enjoyed the humour of the first two books I found it to be fairly puerile in this one. Some of the encounters, for instance, involve a ‘little old lady’, seven dwarves, a vampire carrot and a maths teacher.
‘The Den of Dragons’ was a firm improvement on the first Grail Quest adventure. This one, however, is a bit of a chore to get through.