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Item - The Storms of Chai (collector's edition)

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Series: Lone Wolf, Collector's Edition (2007-) — no. 29
Contents: The Storms of Chai (Gamebook)
The Tides of Gorgoron (Mini-Adventure)
Translated Into: Die Horden der Finsternis (German)
L'Œil d'Agarash (French)
Illustrator: Camuncoli, Giuseppe
Date: April 18, 2016
Fireguard's Thoughts:

Well, it finally happened, Joe Dever got around to writing the books to provide an actual ending to his iconic series of fantasy gamebooks that launched over thirty years ago. I loved this series and its gimmick of you playing through the career of a single adventurer and thus being able to level up and keep all your magic stuff from book to book. It led to a pretty strong cohesive world and internal mythology all seen through the same character's eyes. I do have to admit that the books became weaker over time, though, and this book isn't exactly a return to glory as far as quality goes.

For one thing, the big MacGuffin of the book is a weapon that's a magic scepter empowered by a cursed gem. Just like from book 15 (Not the exact same one, but the same idea). There's also some hit-and-miss proofreading ("stunk by a bee"?), and Joe still hasn't really figured out a good way to make the useless-seeming skills he introduced into the final wave of the series actually useful, like bardsmanship and astrology. You're still way better off picking the versions of skills you've been using since the original books. The writing gets the job done, but the quest itself wasn't exceptionally memorable.

While the above indicates I wasn't blown out of my seat by the book by any means, I'm actually still excited by what the book represents, which is the start of an arc. There's been a time jump of years between this book and the one previous, seemingly to reflect how long it's been since a new book was published. A lot's happened and the bad guys have gotten a lot bolder, implying that the rest of the books in the series will be a mini-arc trying to drive them back.

This works to fix a problem I think had been afflicting the Lone Wolf series since about book 13, which was when the series took on almost the feeling of an 80's-90's adventure cartoon where the bad guys could never get organized enough that their plans couldn't be all neatly resolved by the end of one installment. I understand wanting to let the player feel victorious, but it led to the villains seeming kind of lame after all was said and done, which wasn't really a good thing for an ongoing series. For the first time since the Darklords went down there's an actual looming threat and I'm eager to see what happens next, even if the book itself was largely average.

The bonus adventure packed in was a nice little addition since you get to play as a Vakeros, basically a warrior who also fights with magic spells, which I was always disappointed wasn't a playable class in the Lone Wolf tabletop RPG. There's also a segment requiring a little battle strategy with how you deploy different types of troops to contain a horde of monsters, which was surprising and interesting. Beyond that it also explains some things from the main adventure and shows what one of the other Kai Lords was up to, helping with the feeling that something really big is going on and it's going to take every good guy to deal with it. At the same time though it gives the player's character arguably the more important contribution to victory, since there'd be nobody to save if not for you.

Overall the book and mechanics aren't that spectacular for the book, but narratively I found it very invigorating and I'm looking forward to Dead in the Deep, even if as I suspect it turns out to be another "resurrect Vashna" book. At least I might finally get a shot at him.

More reviews by Fireguard

Special Thanks:Thanks to Mateusz Motyka for the cover image.
Users Who Own This Item: aden (Signed by author), Alatar001 ((To Ben from Joe Dever)), BarefootJimmy, Belgarath (signed), dArtagnan, Eamonn McCusker, edwebb, Fireguard (Signed 1st ed), gnomeza (JRD Stamp), Ian2405, Malthus Dire, marksmith, mir1812 (signed First Edition), mlvoss, nerelax, Sir Olli (signed), sireeyore (Signed), SojourningScribbler, ThePaperCrow, Twoflower
Users Who Want This Item: Darth Rabbitt, Jgmeyer1980, juski, lek, Lepley (Have some original s to trade.), Oberonbombadil, odo_ital, plutonick, Sheridan77

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