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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

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on 31 December 2007
Be very clear right from the start - this is not a sudoku book for the faint hearted! In fact, it is easily the most difficult - and therefore for me, the most satisfying I've tried.

I'd enjoyed (over a long period of time!) Gould's "Fiendish" books published under the Times banner but when I came to the end of that I was at a bit of a loss where to turn next. I tried the Tom Sheldon "Sudoku Genius" book which was difficult but annoyingly this documents and advocates a "trial and error" approach which to my mind is not true sudoku and the puzzles were greatly devalued as a result. I stopped after a dozen or so,

Due to the authors pedigree, the puzzles in here definitely have the right feel - no guessing required, but very very deep thought definitely is. Towards the end of his Times Fiendish Book I was getting great satisfaction in doing the puzzles without any pencil marks, i.e. purely by logic and brain power, but they would take me 30 odd minutes quite often

I have yet to be able to do a puzzle in this book in anything like that time, and certainly have not finished any without writing numbers in.

There is no messing about, it is straight in with the hardest level. The first one took me ages to complete until I got into the swing of it. I should also add that it is extremely worthwhile reading the advanced tutorials at the start, i finally understood the x-wing and swordfish methods which are essential for usage even after just the first few puzzles

If you like extremely difficult sudoku, are a fan of the Times puzzles and their associated logic, and most other books are either too easy or the puzzles aren't well formed, then trust me, you will LOVE this book.
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on 7 February 2008
I agree with the previous reviewer. I have tried and largely completed many other su doku titles, including the Fiendish/Super-Fiendish ones, but this is by far and away the most testing of the lot. So much so that I have already purchased Extreme #2 and #3, although it may be some time before I get to those ones!
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on 30 November 2010
Sudoku is addictive, and, like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Unlike everything else, however, with Su Doku, as you crack one level of difficulty, you need to have a more difficult set of problems to go at. This set of three books is dexcribed as "extreme", and there's no doubt that these are the ultimate Su Doku puzzles in terms of difficulty. I exclude those puzzles where you need to guess something, and then work it round to see if the guess was right or not. I don't really think that they can be counted as proper logic puzzles, because they involve guesswork. If you're into that, then some of the books from the Daily Telegraph series - "Fireside" and "Christmas" Su Doku - might suit you. They are not as logically difficult, but frequently require some guesswork and then checking. I do not enjoy those - guesswork doesn't seem to me to be a good way to solve puzzles (unless you're a computer, in which case it's a very good way indeed, but you need to be very quick!).

Wayne Gould seems to have understood exactly what Su Doku is all about very early on, and worked out a way of controlling the difficulty of his puzzles perfectly. There is NO guesswork (sometimes euphemistically referred to as "Forcing Chains" or "Nishio" - names invented, I suggest, to add plausibility to guessing!). But, make no mistake, these puzzles are hard. X-wings are often in as a matter of course. The second half of the book contains the occasional Swordfish, and these are REALLY difficult to spot - excellent! There is even, occasionally, a hidden quad, which are beautiful when you find them, but not very common.

All in all, if you've reached the point where most Su Doku puzzles in newspapers are fairly easy (even the "Super Fiendish"), and you don't enjoy the "let's try this and see if it works" approach, then this set of books is for you. You won't be racing through these! But be warned, they are addictive!
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VINE VOICEon 26 March 2011
When I reviewed Fiendish Su Doku 3 I wished for a book that contained a few Fiendish, some Super-fiendish and some Extreme. I realise now that the Extreme Su Doku books offer exactly that. I am not aware of much difference in each of the three books in the series. Each book starts with some puzzles which are pretty straightforward when the worst thing you'll encounter is an X-wing. In fact these books are mostly an X-wing-fest. Later in each book you get some hidden triples (rarely open triples) and Swordfish but in these later puzzles there is usually more work to be done. You can't expect to find just one of these to unlock the answer. There will be a few layers that need to be peeled away. These are the most satisfying puzzles.

But I find it a bit strange that each book starts with unchallenging puzzles and finishes with truly fiendish puzzles. If you finish one book then start the next at the beginning it is very noticeable that there is a huge difference in difficulty between the first puzzle and the last. So when you start the next book you know you have an easy ride for a long time. Surely all books like this should be progressive. E.g. if book 1 contained puzzles graded from 8 to 14 in difficulty then book 2 should contain puzzles graded 11 to 17. Some overlap and and some progression. To be fair there seems some evidence of progression in book 3.

In each book the author says that no puzzle includes a Jellyfish. "We will leave those to the enjoyment by computer-solvers." In the time I spent doing all the easy ones I could have been solving a Jellyfish!

Apart from these criticisms the puzzles are well designed, fair, and enjoyable.

I've upped my rating to 5 star as I felt a bit mean. Just don't expect any Jellyfish or XY-wings. Even Swordfish are rare (non productive Swordfish are in abundance).
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on 29 August 2009
Very good, again the title is correct. Gives you a challenge, unlike most books.
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on 4 May 2013
I've completed about half of the puzzles in the book and all bar the odd one or two took me an age to complete. You really get the sense that a lot of thought has been put into them, though, as they're all possible and when you finally work it out there's a real feeling of satisfaction.

In addition to the puzzles there's a brief guide at the start which introduces some advanced techniques. I found this quite useful, although I think it could have been presented more clearly. It's written in a kind of chatty, conversational style which doesn't really help when you just want to quickly get an idea of what the technique involves. This is a minor issue however and I'd highly recommend the puzzles themselves.
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on 28 February 2012
I thought I was good at Sudoku, even the fiendish were easy.....but this book takes you to another level. You won't be disappointed, just make sure you have hours to spare. Brilliant!
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on 30 May 2013
I bought this for my husband - this is the only series that he enjoys as there are some really challenging puzzles as well as some plain difficult ones. There are 3 books in the series but only 2 currently sold on Amazon so search elsewhere and you will find the second one. Having tried several other fiendish books I suggested re-orderiing one of this series as it is impossible to remember individual puzzles. My husband is now happily workiing through this book again.
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on 14 December 2013
I have bought this book at least 5 times because the challenge of completing these puzzles successfully is AMAZING! I'm on a 25% success rate at the moment. I try to understand Wayne Gould's introductions and each time I buy the book I make a little more sense of them - logic never was my strong point. But if you're up for an intense thinkathon, this is a book for you.
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on 9 January 2014
I bought this as a present for a friend who is very into Su Doku. I read the reviews on the books available, some of which I have bought for her in the past. I went for this as it was meant to be a very hard book & I thought it would be more able to stretch her than the easier ones. I don't know how she is getting on but hopefully it will keep her busy.
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