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Item - Mine of Torments

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Series: The Legends of Skyfall — no. 3
Translated Into: La mina de los tormentos (Spanish)
Il mistero della miniera (Italian)
Author: Tant, David
Illustrators: Maroto, Esteban (cover)
Dunn, Richard (interior)
Angus, David (cartography)
Date: 1985
Length: 400 sections
User Summary: A new Mithral mine has been found in the mountain range of eastern Delta. However, before the metal can be exploited, three problems have to be dealt with: dwarven ghosts are haunting the mine; elemental beings block outside access to it, and mysterious forest beings are attacking those who try to build a bridge that would connect the mine to civilization. You are called to look into these matters, on a quest that will take more brain than brawn to complete.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

(review based on the Spanish translation)

This is probably the best book in the series. Thankfully, there is very little pointless wandering this time around. There are three sub-quests to complete, and since they are geographically distant, they do require the character to travel through the mountain range. The wilderness is detailed in a more interesting way than in the earlier books, and though filled with dangerous creatures, it doesn’t take up too much of the adventure, and exploring is actually useful in order to complete the book successfully.

The wilderness part is only a preamble for the regions where you'll get to do investigation work and solve the three mysteries of the adventure. You can choose to investigate them in any order you want, although they need to be solved in a specific order. Solving each one is indeed quite challenging and – this is the best part – they involve almost no combat or skill checks. Negotiation and making intelligent choices is the key to success here, plus there is an interesting plot that reveals itself the more you progress though the adventure. This is one of the more "role-playing"-oriented gamebooks I've had the pleasure of reading. I also liked that this story gives insight into the economic life of the Kingdom of Delta, thus making it feel more like a "living" setting with an identity of its own, and not just another Tolkienesque fantasy clone.

There is a short dungeon section to explore, and like The Black Pyramid, much of it is pointless. However, even this is solved by the author – you won't need to do much exploration work if you make some correct choices before entering the mine.

The only real gripe I have with the adventure is that the design is counter-intuitive. The items which you'll need in order to complete it are scattered all over the mountain range, and it may take more than one try to figure out the optimal path through the book. This doesn't make it too frustrating, though.

All in all, a great gamebook and one of the high points of the series. You can skip book 2 without regret and head straight to it with my recommendation.

More reviews by Guillermo

Shadeheart's Thoughts:

[Rating: 1/10]
[Recommended? NO]

Of the many surprises that await within the pages of "The Legends of Skyfall" series, what resonates the most with readers of "Mine of Torments" is just how sorely lacking of substance the series really is. Starting off with an almost self-praising introduction which denounces uncommitted readers from the get-go, the story begins as densely-packed as the world and structure introductions are. There's unironically little joy to be had in slogging through the worldbuilding infodumps, let alone the world itself that David Tant drags readers through; with a tone that is better suited to non-fiction, I found it strange to see how uninspired the characters, scenarios and overall reading experience were. While the book praises logic, the spirit of the narrative is sorely lacking; you get none of the grandiose feel that the cover art evocatively calls to the imagination (in fact, some of the interior art is quite atrocious). Even the innovative (from which Tant smugly praises himself again a little too much) coin-flipping system doesn't sit well; as the primary story-determining tool, not only does the arbitrary nature of tossing a coin as the book dictates come across as unnatural, it never catches on and really exposes - at least for me - just how insubstantial and unenjoyable the story is in most respects. This title in particular, despite the fear-inducing title (as previous titles were a clue to the contents), is not as tormenting as it sounds, except when one discovers the low replay value from the book's sole correct path, causing re-reads to be mostly redundant.

While these overlooked gamebooks may be deserving of a second look by some interactive fiction lovers, I generally believe these books - receiving mixed-to-negative reviews upon release - are the kind which could be easily passed over by a majority of readers without regret. After all, no matter how intricately a gamebook's worldbuilding may be extraneously developed, if the writing itself fails to offer even the slightest bit of enjoyment, then the immersion is all for nothing - and I tell you, there is ultimately nothing to be found here which readers cannot find better done elsewhere. ^^

(Mysteriously disappears into the shadows.)

More reviews by Shadeheart

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary.
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Robert Mammone

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