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Mudworm Swamp

Series: Adventures of Goldhawk #3
Author: Livingstone, Ian
Illustrators: Dewey, Simon (cover)
Nicholson, Russ (interior)
Release Date: 1995
Length:94 sections
Number of Endings:11
dArtagnan's Thoughts: This is probably the weakest book in the series (although oddly I remembered it as the strongest). Whilst playing chess with Marris, Darkmoon's ghost sends a bat-like creature to poison the poor wizard and the only cure needs to be extracted from a man-eating plant that lurks in the depths of the eponymous swamp. So once again its the task of the King of Karazan and his pals to save the day by journeying to the swamp to get the cure. Surely a king has more important things to deal with like working out a comprehensive taxation system or something? Oh well.

The problem with this book is it's so unforgiving. Finding the correct path will take a while. And even if you find it, you must fight a Skill 9 enemy to the death when your Skill will only be 7 at best, roll 4-6 on a die to find an essential item, then roll 3-6 on a die to avoid death and then roll 30 or higher on ten dice at the end. There's also more instant deaths than before (with one encounter basically serving as an instant death because the item you need to escape can only be obtained on a route that does not allow you to get to that encounter anyway). Furthermore, like The Demon Spider, there's one instance where you really have to suspend your disbelief: A character asks you where you're headed and you say the first word that pops into your mind and that so happens to be the name of the only settlement in the swamp. Furthermore there's a rather obvious inconsistency at the start. It is revealed Karazan has no horses, yet a glance at the illustration of the battle at the end of The Demon Spider will reveal soldiers riding horses. The book also differs from the other three in that it has no puzzles whatsoever. The whole design of the book just smacks of laziness. It's not completely without merits though. There are a few good encounters, such as the Rain Dancer and a shifty salesman and the book is reasonably well written and illustrated. It will also take you a lot longer than the others to beat which could be seen as a good thing I suppose. Mudworm Swamp isn't terrible, but it is just not as good as a lot of other gamebooks.

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