Lone Wolf (1984-1998)
The Plague Lords of Ruel (reissue) (Collection)
Contagio mortale (Italian)
Les Druides de Cener (French)
Prokletí z Ruelu (Czech)
Jones, Peter Andrew (British cover)
Dorman, Dave (American cover)
December, 1990 (original)
February 1, 2003 (Project Aon release)
|Gartax's Thoughts:||I'm not a huge fan of Lone Wolf, but this book's a lot of fun to play through, with a new recurring nemesis introduced and an interesting setting.|
Now that the darklords have been destroyed forever, never again to corrupt the peaceful lives of Sommerlunders, one might think that you would be able to relax for a while; and, in fact, you have, taking the next five years to rebuild your land and unify the people to an extent that had been impossible when the threat of the darklords still hung over everyone's heads.
The peace is not a perfect one, however. When you hear that the Cener druids of Ruel are preparing to unleash a devastating plague of their own nefarious design on all of Sommerlund, you must step into your role as hero once again and stop their deadly plot from coming to fruition. Of help to you in your quest is the new knowledge you've gained that the Magnakai disciplines you have already earned, previously thought to represent the pinnacle of humanoid accomplishment, can actually be improved upon via your own creation of the Kai Grand Master disciplines, superior forms of the old skills which allow you an even greater range of attack and defense options. You start off in The Plague Lords of Ruel by picking four of the twelve available Grand Master disciplines, and I'd urge you to consider this choice very carefully. Think back on the Magnakai disciplines that the decisions in the past books called for most often, and by all means choose the correlating Grand Master disciplines as your first four. You can pick up the rest of them in future adventures. The decisions you make here, before the book even begins, could determine whether or not you make it to the end.
The horrible creatures you come up against in The Plague Lords of Ruel have taken another quantum leap forward from the previous book in terms of Endurance and Combat Skill. Seriously, I'm not sure how they expect you to win some of these fights, battling against monsters with Endurance in the neighborhood of eighty (eighty!!!) points and Combat Skill of fifty or higher, dwarfing whatever your own levels in either category might be. It's hard to accept that after so many years of intense training you are still less skilled in combat than a pack of wild dogs, but it is what it is, and Lone Wolf always finds a way to overcome enemies that on the surface appear stronger than he. I would definitely recommend, though, that you choose the "evade combat" option whenever possible in these hopeless situations, as it will be challenging enough to make it in and out of Ruel without nearly being killed in a fight every few pages or so.
Of particular concern for veteran Lone Wolf adventurers will be the fact that most (if not all) American editions of this book are abridged. According to what I've heard, substantial portions of text are missing from these abridged editions, which no doubt will be a letdown for those who love the captivating, image-rich writing of author Joe Dever. I think it's safe to say that we're missing out on something by reading the abridged American editions, but it's no easy task to get one's hands on a real British edition, so these versions will have to do for most of us. Still, the journey is suspenseful and thrilling, and the writing is classic Joe Dever style and should provide a few chills up the spine, as all of the Lone Wolf books seem to do.
So, my enthusiasm for abridged Lone Wolf is slightly subdued, but I'm positive I would have loved the unabridged original. This first adventure of the new "Grand Master" sub-series offers up everything that's awesome about the world of Lone Wolf, and gives us yet another chance to step into the shoes of perhaps the greatest gamebook hero ever conceived and fight to establish peace and drive away greed and evil in our world. I recommend The Plague Lords of Ruel as a virtually indispensable read for anyone who has taken the time to complete the first twelve books in the series.
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