Holloway, James (Jim) (interior)
Ney(-Grimm), Jessica (interior)
557 sections plus prologue. |
The second book in the Middle-earth Quest series (not a sequel) takes place shortly after the War of the Ring. You are a student from Minas Tirith, tasked with finding a magic Staff in the ruins under Weathertop (the hill from The Fellowship of the Ring) and returning it to King Elessar (as Strider came to be known after taking up the crown).
This book departs somewhat from the format found in Night of the Nazgûl and Rescue in Mirkwood -- instead of having a long overland map, there is one map of the surface of Weathertop and a second of the ruins beneath. This splits up the action of the book more thoroughly than in the others; the first part involves the exploration of the large hill to find the cave entrance to the ruins, the exploration of which encompasses the second half of the adventure.
As with the other books, there are the map-keyed sections which the player chooses, and then numbered sections which include encounters and other items not covered by the map. The difference in The Legend of Weathertop is the exploration of the cave system leading to the ruins -- there's no map, which requires the player to do a little mapmaking of their own so as to keep track of where they've been. It's easy to get "lost" in these sections as a result, something I believe the author intended.
This adventure doesn't have as much replay value as the other books, primarily because of the division of the maps -- it doesn't feel like you have as much freedom to explore. Time is also not as important a factor, which eases the dramatic tension. There's only one cameo from a well-known character -- King Elessar, who receives the Staff from you if you're successful, and whom you meet only at the very end.
The one weakness of the Middle Earth Quest format becomes evident during a "riddle" challenge in this book ("If you answered 'a newspaper' go to 132, otherwise go to 401.") I think it was bold to include such in a gamebook, and am aware of only one series that got it right (Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series).
All told, this is a decent part of the series. There's no real continuity with the other books to worry about, but gameplay is shorter than the others. The rich description and depth of background somewhat makes up for that, although as stated earlier, replay value is reduced compared to other books of the series.
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