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Night Dragon (Fighting Fantasy) Paperback – 25 Mar 1993

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Paperback, 25 Mar 1993
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books (25 Mar. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140364072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140364071
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.7 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 529,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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In common with all the Fighting Fantasy (FF) series, this is a part-novel, part-RPG gamebook in which the player takes on the role of the hero and attempts to battle, path-choose and problem-solve a route through to success. Combat, tests of luck and skill, and various other events are managed through dice-rolls against statistics held by the player and various adversaries.

Night Dragon highlights some of the strengths of the gamebook genre, but also some of its weaknesses. The story is fantasy on an unusually epic scale even for FF - a long-dormant dragon is awakening from its sleep, threatening doom to the world, and forces of good and evil are uniting to stop it. The reader takes on the role of the hero chosen to slay this monster before it can arise. In fact the Night Dragon has the highest statistics of any opponent in a FF gamebook - though fortunately it is vulnerable to certain magical weapons. The story - reminiscent of the Dragonlance storylines - is one of the strengths of the book, which plays to FF's strengths, creating the feeling of a viable fantasy world and a quest of sufficient import and urgency for any reader to become engaged. The villain of the piece is built up to truly monstrous proportions which gives the final battle a sense of importance. As a story, Night Dragon is unusually nuanced, complex and developed for a FF book. As a game, too, it is unusual. The gamebook adopts an unusual, strongly segmentary structure with various distinct areas the player can visit. These can be visited in a number of different sequences, with different outcomes and levels of difficulty depending on the order in which they are attempted. It is difficult, but not (with good initial stats) impossible; in fact it's fairly easy to rectify errors on later attempts.
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`Night Dragon' by Keith Martin is one Fighting Fantasy gamebook I was looking forward to for some time, and may be the darkest adventure. You face an evil from the dawn of time itself, a Dragon so immensely powerful it can weave its ancient magic in the world of dreams, capable of fabricating copies of itself to strengthen its resurrection in the real world. Safe to say, it is the hardest opponent to defeat.

`Night Dragon' is challenging, though I say that as an understatement. Even deciding which order you should collect the Magic Artefacts is tricky enough, but defeating the sturdy, terribly unfair, highly-skilled enemies in your path is horrendously difficult if you have poorly determined stats. Also, you will have to cheat, depending on your choices, because of editorial mistakes that mean your calculated numbers to solve puzzles don't match up to the references it says to turn to (similar to an infamous error in Martin's later `Revenge of the Vampire' where it is impossible to take the best path without resorting to cheating).

Tony Hough's illustrations do an excellent job at enriching the portentous atmosphere created from Keith Martin's descriptions, as you head further into the encroaching threat of formidable darkness. They breathe new life into a paper-thin threat. Sadly, the interior illustration of the eponymous Night Dragon isn't nearly as impressive as the eye-catching cover, that exudes a menacing and enticing aura.

`Night Dragon' has great re-playable value. The sequences set in the Dreamtime are interesting, and the Mirror Demon is a signature threat, both hideous and strangely wondrous to look at. The Bone Stalker Mage has a name that just rolls off your tongue, and is a truly evil being, in its fierce stats and abilities, and hellish appearance. A brilliant read.
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Like `Vault of the Vampire' by the same author, this book takes a very basic fantasy premise (ie. dragon slaying in this case) and does it perfectly. `Night Dragon' has a far less complicated storyline than most of Keith Martin's Fighting Fantasy books. In essence your mission is basically to assassinate the evil villain that threatens the land. However, this is one of the best gamebook examples of this very common idea and, as usual with Keith Martin events become more complicated.

This whole adventure is about gearing up the reader with weapons, items and magic to face the ultimate opponent, the eponymous Night Dragon. To beat such an opponent the reader will require the bulk of what is on offer, especially the sacred sword, armour and shield. The longer you spend looking for such things though the more powerful the Night Dragon becomes.

This exploration takes you on a varied journey through Allansia. Port Blacksand, which first appeared in `City of Thieves', acts as the starting point for a journey that involves mountain ranges, towns, temples, crypts and underground caverns. The quality of detail from the author makes all these environments utterly atmospheric and engaging. The adventure is also incredibly well structured in allowing the reader to pursue their explorations in the order they wish to. In makes it seem that there is a lot more freedom of choice than in most adventure gamebooks where the path is usually more linear. Of course each area is somewhat different depending on your actions in other areas. This also allows for some extra scope for replays.

What makes this book difficult though is the sheer power of your opponents' statistics. This book probably has the hardest combat element of any FF adventure.
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