(pseudonym used by Blashfield, Jean (F.))
Holloway, James (Jim) (interior)
|User Summary:||You are Chandelle, daughter of a famous jeweler. When monsters carry off your father, it's up to you and a handsome young knight to rescue him.|
I'm glad TSR decided to appeal to girls, but HeartQuest kicks off by including a book with one of my biggest pet peeves of Endless Quest: a protagonist who isn't good at anything useful except moral support. Even The Endless Catacombs ducked that one. Admittedly I'm nowhere near the target audience, but I don't want to go on an adventure as a character who spends the early part of the book constantly bursting into tears.
This was an interesting experiment by TSR, a clear attempt to appeal to female readers by adding a romance aspect to the fantasy and pick a path elements. Although a few of the Endless Quest books have you play female characters, your gender wasn't really an issue. The books probably weren't very successful as they only lasted through number 6.
What is first of note are the window style covers which I've only ever seen on romance novels (I've never actually read one so I have no idea how close these books follow the genre). It's probably hard to get a copy that doesn't have a torn cover as they are very flimsy. The other thing you notice is that "Dungeons and Dragons" appears nowhere on the cover, front or back. I suspect that in the early 80's, D&D was so closely associated with being a "guy" thing, they were afraid no young girls would pick them up. It just reminds me that I an clearly not the target audience for these books.
The Elmore cover is excellent as always. In the book, you play Chantelle, the daughter of a travelling jeweler. Your father gets kidnapped by some supposedly friendly centaurs under the control of a red dragon and you must try to save him. You have with you magical jewels which you use to cast spells, making you more or less a magic-user for this adventure.
It's actually quite a good book. You find help along the way in the form of a young knight, Coren, an older 20-something knight, Torben and a female halfling thief named Jancy. Depending on which paths you take, either knight can wind up as your potential love interest, making the romance part more interesting than if there were just one choice. Most of the choices are similar to a normal Endless Quest, except one, where you can decide to kiss a boy or not. But interestingly, not all party members may make it through the mission.
The book is somewhat cheesy, sometimes stopping for romance when I think the protagonist would be in no mood for it, her father a prisoner and all, but I reckon that's part of the genre. One very cheesy trap, a door you can pass through only if you are in love. Why would the dragon have a door like that in her lair? Whats the point? Interestingly, the older knight and the halfling can wind up as a couple, making me wonder what we would call their offspring.
I really found the scenario intriguing. As the dragon has charmed many, but not all, of the forest creatures, you wind up fighting satyrs, centaurs, lammasu, mermaids, etc. that you'd not normally fight. I think it would make a great D&D campaign module. An adventure where you couldn't kill the forest creatures but still have to find a way to defeat them.
Overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.
Upon first reading/playing, I considered "HeartQuest"'s "Ring of the Ruby Dragon" THE best fantasy-romance hybrid gamebook I'd ever come across - and regardless, Jeannie Black deserves props for what she accomplishes here. And the first playthrough really was neat - playfully written with a fairly good romantic match between Chandelle and Coren (with overall chemistry between the two aiding the quest's merits), and an interesting final showdown against Wyvella/Raedl. Interestingly, the route was the only one which seemed to logistically make any sense as far as the path-choosing went; immersive as it was on this obvious path, there were surprisingly no creatures to fight (ex. the centaur from the beginning) save the aforementioned turning-the-dragon-villainess-into-a-cat ending deep in the cavern. On other paths, though, the flaws are far more blaring; this left me seriously wishing the first route I read was given a more straightforward third-person tone and non-interactive treatment, considering its enjoyability, immersiveness and possibility. The book as a whole, however, ultimately ends too quickly for comfort and manages to feel narratively rushed (and not romance-oriented per se) (on that note, Coren should've been the only love interest), and the unnecessary crying is odd, to say the least. If the whole book was as enjoyable as the first read it would make for an easy, strong recommendation, though the multiple paths of less worth definitely weigh down the book enough that I wouldn't recommend it. If there's one book in the series to check out, though, it's easily this one. ^^
(Mysteriously disappears into the shadows.)
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Fireguard for the plot summary.|
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Lambchop - Great shape, no binds or tears, covers intact. Small price tag on back.
Cyber Reviews - HeartQuest, The [Dead Link]
This page offers lengthy information and reviews relating to the HeartQuest series.
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://cyberreviews.skwc.com/cr_heartquest_gamebooks.html (last verified: 2017-12-07)