The Heart of Fire: DestinyQuest Book 2 Paperback – 11 Jul 2013
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"They blow my fragile little mind...get them now."" "Revolution Science Fictionon the"Destiny Quest"series"
The second book in a series where FIGHTING FANTASY meets WORLD OF WARCRAFT.See all Product description
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Fast-forward 30 years and these books are now seen as a bit of a relic - after all, nobody plays a game today if it's not on a computer or a games console do they? And weren't those 'choos your own adventure' books a bit childish anyway?
Well, here we have the DestinyQuest and games in book form are back with a bang - and a very modern twist!
The author (Michael J Ward) has taken the best elements of the modern computer MMORPG (mass multiplayer online role playing game) such as 'World of Warcraft' and they have seamlessly blended it with the old 80s style gamebook format. To wrap everything up in an appealing little parcel he has also given us a cracking, well-written fantasy story to boot. Yes - it's not just a game, this fella can actually write!
So I ordered the two DestinyQuest titles and off I went down memory lane - only now it had been given a new. exciting and modern refit. Now there was an air of mystery and I was able to choose the path and career in life that my hero decided to take. Would he become a Warrior Gladiator? A Rogue Swordmaster? Or a Mage Pyromancer? Or any one of more than a dozen other choice each of which would have a direct affect on the story and also on the gear and the loot that I could take with me - and the gear and the loot is king is in this book. There are literally hundreds of different items that you can find scattered throughout the story and you can equip these as you wish (your character will have a slot for head gear, gloves, main weapon, boots etc). Each piece of gear will boost your characters strenghhs and skills and will often provide your character with a new skill, ability, power or spell.
This all becomes important when your hero finds themselves in combat. At this point there is a very simple dice rolling mechanic that is used to resolve the combat - so simple that a baby could learn it. However, the simplicity is deceptive because once you start playing your powers and spells in combat and stringing some of your abilities together in various combos (whilst your opponents do the same), the combat becomes deeply tactical particularly as you reach the end of the book.
Add into the mix a map-based quest system (where the quests are colour-coded for difficulty) and a computer game-like 'save' and 'heal' system and you have an amazingly deep gaming experience here. The replay ability is fantastic as well because you will never create the same hero or make the same choices twice (and you can choose two different moral directions to take your hero in as well).
But this is more than just a game. If you like a good fantasy epic, this book certainly delivers as a great story in its own right.
If there was anything that I would say could be taken as a negative, it is that some of the later game fights can become too difficult or tedious if you have not done a very good job of kitting out your hero. But that's a really minor niggle as you can just go back and rebuild slightly differently and then try again.
So all in all, heartily recommended! Five stars.
However I have to make a disclaimer here, due to a new arrival I haven't got a great deal of free time so I didn't actually play through the combats in this latest book even though I did for most of the Legion of Shadow, which was fun but became quite lengthy and difficult towards the end. One of the strengths of combat in DQ is that the author gives many combats a unique twist for example in LoS there was a gigantic Centipede that became more frantic as you destroyed each of its armoured segments.
So what did I think? Without wanting to give too much away about the plot I'll say that it is an Epic tale of revenge and betrayal involving men, ancient dwarven cities and dark forces. Your character has visions and the fate of the world of Valeron will be changed irrevocably by your character's actions. During this tale the protagonist undergoes some unwelcome metamorphoses that also grant him extra powers. I found participating in / uncovering the story to be great fun and the quest for salvation / revenge drew me along. HoF is a genuinely epic tome, and initially a little imposing, and the writing is at times equally epic, with some bone crushing combat encounters with titanic beasts and at other times provides comic relief with some humourous sly references to pop culture, one of which made me laugh out loud when I read it. As the protagonist's quest progresses the tone of the quest becomes correspondingly darker and more desperate. One little problem and one of the reasons that I haven't given this 5 stars as is, is that I noticed was that a few errors slipped through the net which is understandable in such a mammoth work, however in the correct references are listed in the forum on the Destiny Quest site. This isn't major deal but I hope will be corrected in subsequent print runs (if it hasn't already). Overall I would highly recommend Heart of Fire to either older gamebook fans who remember the initial wave, or teens who would enjoy it. DQ was very fun to read, and I'm looking forward to the next tome in the series already!
This is what the old fighting fantasy books should have been. No sudden dead ends, no auto-failures if you miss one particular choice, no searching for hours to find that one entry that will give you victory. The destiny quest books are exciting, well-written, and possessed of a depth I've never seen before in a game book. The story of Heart of Fire is twisted and complex, always keeping you guessing as to what will happen right up until the end, and the end does not disappoint. Each quest is a new adventure...or several new adventures...with unique enemies, puzzles, and treasure.
Grab your blade, ready your spells, and go off adventuring with the Destiny Quest books. You won't regret a moment of it. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the soon-to-be-released third book in this series.
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Each paragraph of the story ends in choices.Read more
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