|User Summary:||Your father wants you to give up your tomboyish dreams of destroying the evil wizard who ruined your family, but after you find a strange map, you have other plans....|
As perhaps indicated by the title, Isle of Illusion has a lot in common with the later Knight of Illusion in that most of the choices revolve around who or what to trust/believe. Like in Knight of Illusion and Quest for the Elf King, I found this approach annoying as it made me feel less like I was actually doing anything. Also like Knight of Illusion, the book has the weird practice of refering to the protagonist's father by his name rather than as "your father," which kept halting the experience for me. It's not so pronounced in this book, though, Hildric having much less of a presence than Aleron.
In Isle of Illusion, there are not one but two guys competing for your attention, and although this had been done in Ring of the Ruby Dragon, neither of them is obviously the "right" one. I thought this would've increased the book's appeal to its target audience, but (SPOILER? there is a "right" one) and after you finish the book once you'll have foreknowledge of who to trust that ruins the experience.
I couldn't get into this book, even moreso than the others. Fortunately, the next HeartQuest book turned out not to be so bad.
My fourth and final Heartquest, the second written by Morris Simon (as Madeleine), and probably the weakest of the series so far. You play Licia, a warrior daughter of a Viking chief, the first martial character after all the previous Heartquest females have been mages of some sort.
You live on a farm with your mother and blinded father, who lost his sight to an evil wizard. Your older brother disappeared on a quest to find the evil illusionist, and you take up his quest. Armed with lots of magical armour and weapons you set out. Along the way, you are joined by a thief called Tym and a scholar named Max.
This book tries something the first book did: have two possible love interests. However, where they felt natural in Ruby Dragon, in this book it feels clear that it is being set up for you to make a choice between the two. And there is a "right" guy for you. The adventure feels much lighter in this book and the story less memorable than the last three books. Lots of illusions and so forth.
I did like that one of the characters is a scholar, rather than a mage. He can't do anything particularly useful, but he makes a nice contrast to the fighting female protagonist. The evil wizard, Treg, feels particularly bland.
Like the other books, the cover art and interior art are quite different. The Elmore cover has a fully mature "Elmore" girl, while the interior art shows a girl who looks to be barely past puberty, a common difference in all of the Heartquest books.
Definitely the weakest of the HeartQuest series for several reasons. First of all, both of the romantic choices are repugnant. I never really thought anything of the way Tym spanks your character on the behind with his sword, until my husband peered at the illustration and said, "Is he trying to humiliate her?" and I realized yes, yes he is indeed. Yes, he grows and changes as the story goes on, but it's too abrupt and artificial of a change to convince me. In previous HeartQuests, I find myself "awwwing" at things the romantic interests say and do (okay, so I'm a sucker for romance). But Tym just sucks.
And then there is Max. Where do I begin with this guy? Okay, first of all, he looks NOTHING like his description, which goes on ad nauseaum about how he has the most perfect features and is the most handsome man that ever lived. The two illustrations of him are HORRIBLE. Again, my husband offered some insight, "Is she getting it on with JESUS?!" And that's being nice, I would say. Max looks old, creepy, gross, and just NO in his pictures. Ick. I had pictured a James Marsden looking fellow, and then I turn a few pages and I'm presented with a face that belongs on a Most Wanted poster. Ew.
So onto other problems with the story... as Fireguard has mentioned, this book has the terrible "Stay home and be a good girl" choice right from the start. And they offer it to you a second time just in case you missed it. Same exact ending (with an extra page or two of dialogue about being a good girl that is different between the two, but still). And yes, staying home results in a quick ending. If I were the author, I would make the "stay at home" option just lead to a different adventure. Like, "you're at home two weeks later when a mysterious man staggers up with a cryptic note..." and you end up embarking on something totally different. Just having it end "you stayed at home wondering what might have happened" is not satisfactory at all.
Also, many of the choices lead to the same outcomes. The book has a pattern: if there are two choices, typically one leads to a horrible "what were you thinking, stupid?" endings, and one continues the story. Or both end up at the same page after some different dialogue that doesn't affect the story whatsoever. If there are three choices, one goes down path A, one goes down path B, and the other dies horribly. Then path A and B meet up a little later. Doesn't make for an interesting reread. It's really just like the author wrote a basic one path story first, and then made it a gamebook by tacking on a bunch of deaths and optional ways to get to the same static place in the story.
Definitely wouldn't give someone this book as their first intro to gamebooks.
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Fireguard for the plot summary.|
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Lambchop - Very tight binding. Covers intact and in great shape.
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