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on 1 October 2007
Like all of its kind, this Fighting Fantasy gamebook is part story part game, with the reader playing the role of a first-person character in the story and having to solve puzzles, fight enemies and make dice rolls to succeed. The setting is high-fantasy with a Chinese inflection, but a lot of the interaction is with humans and humanoids, and the monsters and magic included are very atypical of the series.

Be warned - this is possibly the darkest, most disturbing gamebook in the series. Powers of mutation which fuse living people into a living, heaving mass, maddened convicts set adrift in monstrous inflated bladders, people frozen in place into a mass of mud and parents entombing their child alive are just a few of the things a player will encounter, not to mention similarly disturbing illustrations, and the fact that the player character is unaware of his identity for most of the book. The majority of characters encountered are either tragic, treacherous or insane. If the aim was to create a psychoscape of confusion and misery, the authors have succeeded magnificently.

The book has considerably more of a story than most gamebooks - the player character wakes up in a tomb with no idea of who he is, and fumbles towards recovering knowledge and ability as the story progresses. The story even incorporates a "flashback" like sequence where the character is taken back in time to make choices which will affect the future outcome. Unusually for a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, the story is not simply a series of miniquests and encounters, but involves existential choices and "character development" issues of a kind more familiar from novels.

As a gamebook however, it is very frustrating. The correct path is narrow and extremely linear, and the book is quite cruel to the reader - wrong choices, missed items and failed rolls lead to sudden death with alarming regularity, and there is little predictability or discernable structure. Basically the reader is left trying to guess (not figure out) the correct path and quickly dying if s/he fails to guess correctly. Very often for instance, the player is faced with a choice between using five different magic abilities; usually, one of them is successful, and all the others are fatal. Given the sparsity of alternative routes in most of the book's structure, and the resultant length of the correct path, this becomes frustrating well before the eventual resolution is reached. There's a ridiculously long list of items, skills and allies the reader has to accumulate to succeed. Amazingly, the reader even has to fail one dice roll to successfully complete the gamebook.

In addition, the setting is geographically dubious - flat agricultural plains fuse into dense tropical rainforest, temperate woodlands and rocky areas without any apparent regularity. And the Chinese names for magic spells add more confusion than atmosphere.
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on 18 September 2005
Black Vein Prophecy, is very similar to Creature of Havok, where by you beging the adventure not knowing, who you are. And awkening within a tomb.
With the storyline set within the Isles of Dawn and very little background infomation, this puts the reader in to quite unfamiliar territory and with the strange names for the diffrent spells, this book at times is one of the harder, adventures within the fighting fantasy world.
All in all, the storyline is quite good, even if the book does seem very similar to Creature of Havok which is the better out of the two books
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on 20 November 2012
There are few adventure gamebooks that have a storyline as well developed and thought out as `Black Vein Prophecy'. The intricacies of the plot, however, make this an awesomely complicated book to complete. That is certainly not a bad thing with this book. There is weeks' worth of gameplay providing great value for money. And although you should expect plenty of frustration there is also much satisfaction to be gained by persevering on to unlock the next part of this fascinating story.

The adventure begins in a highly unusual and original fashion (although similarities can be drawn with `Creature of Havoc'). You appear to awake from death in your sarcophagus with no idea who or where you are. You will not even discover your stats until several paragraphs into the adventure. It's a great twist to the standard format and the authors have gone to great efforts to create a disorientating atmosphere. It is certainly one of the most intriguing starts to any gamebook adventure.

It is hard to say much more about this adventure without spoiling the plot. But your journey of self-discovery becomes something that affects the course of a whole country which only you can save if you learn the right information and abilities.
`Black Vein Prophecy' has some great writing and believable characters. The fabulous detail and sense of confusion creates an engrossing atmosphere, somewhat oriental in nature, feeling almost like feudal China. Your main opponents are interesting characters and many creatures encountered come with an oriental mythological influence.

Unfortunately though, there is what can only be considered as a major flaw in this adventure. You will only be able to complete it if you are unlucky on the first test of your luck. So near the start of the adventure you are unlikely to fail this roll even if you do begin with a low luck score. I object quite strongly to an FF book that can only be completed if you fail a roll. You shouldn't be penalised if you are `lucky', especially when the effect is so important. This flaw means that this is only one of three FF books I have had to cheat on to complete. Unfortunately there is little choice but to cheat in this circumstance. Perhaps, if this book is ever re-released, like many have been, this could be corrected. Even so, this fails to mar such a fabulous adventure.

If you want an intricate, difficult but enjoyable gamebook experience requiring patience and intelligence to complete then this adventure is ideal. Just be prepared to be frustrated en route.
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on 16 March 2014
The story behind this book is really uncommon and will definitely appeal who loved The Creature of Havoc.
The solution to this book is slightly simpler to find compared to Creature of Havoc, but the plot behind it, that will unravel bit by bit (if you take the right options, of course...) is really thrilling!
You wake up in a sarcophagus and it will take a lot to understand who your are, REALLY. You will meet people that will tell you are this or that and then, ultimately, like in real life, you will have to decide who you want to be, independently from what other people, including your own father, wants you to be!

This book isn't for an inexperienced gamebook adventurer (as it is hard and it can be confusing), but every hardcore gamebooks fan will enjoy it throughout, paragraph by paragraph!
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on 31 July 2011
Most fighting fantasy novels open up with the good hero knowing what threat they are up against (usually a giant monster of some kind from th outside) and vanquishing it in physical combat. Black Vein prophecy is different: when you start you have no idea who you are (having woken in your own grave), the evil is not from the outside (without giving the game away)and if you kill the enemy, you become as bad as he is.
The other stuff mentioned is true: spells mutating people into a living mass, most allies tuning on you at some point, parents burying children alive and maddened criminals.
I was always more of a flicker through the FF books so got more into the story and ideas (as a kid I always remembered BVP being eerie and tricky) than completing them. I do get the feeling that this is one of the tricky ones with some grisly ways to go (mutated beyond all recognition, eaten by killer grubs, betrayed by allies and becoming the evil oppressor to name but a few).
The way to get the good ending is more tricky and clever than most FF, suffice to say it works in a sort of Mobius strip/Terminator 2 way.
I was always a fan of the more offbeat FF where physical combat didn't always bring victory(this, Creature of Havoc and the Hammer Horror themed Moonrunner) but yeah, eerie...
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on 28 May 2016
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on 8 January 2015
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