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Search for the Palantír

(pre-release mockup)
(pre-release mockup)
Series: Middle-earth Quest #8
Translated Into: Alla ricerca del Palantir (Italian)
La búsqueda del Palantir (Spanish)
Em busca do Palantir (Portuguese)
Author: Creighton, Milt
Illustrators: Carroll, Dan (interior)
Savoy, Carolyn (cartography)
Release Date: 1989
ISBN: 0425114694 / 9780425114698
Length:422 sections plus prologue.
User Summary: The events in this book take place shortly before the War of the Ring. The magical Palantir stones of Annuminas and Amon Sul have been recovered by a tribe in the Forodwaith, and Gandalf and Aragorn have sent you on a quest to put them where no one will be able to use them. Along the way you'll have to face rival clans of elves, the minions of Sauron and a creature which is an incarnation of primal evil. And will you be able to overcome your own greed for the stones?
Guillermo's Thoughts: (review based on the Spanish translation)

It's hard to decide whether this book is good or not. It certainly shows good intention: in addition to using your own character, you are offered five pre-created characters to choose from, each with a detailed background and personality. The way encounters and situations are resolved frequently depends on which character you choose, and no matter which one you pick, it's possible to run into several of the others during the adventure, which makes for a good read. The book is also interesting from a literary point of view, as it tries to fill a hole in the Tolkien canon by relating the tale of the fate of two magical artifacts, and skillfully introduces the recurring Tolkien theme of power struggles between different races and factions, while managing to convey a message at the end. Also of note is the fact that the player character gets to interact with the Forochel tribe during an important ceremony, facing some decisions and challenges that would probably be worthy of a modern-day anthropologist.

However, the book (which is mostly a linear wilderness adventure with two main paths through it) feels rather bland and uninvolving as an adventure story. None of its parts are really very exciting, and the writing is awkward enough to cause boredom at several times. The challenge level is also rather low, expecially along one of the main routes. Ultimately, the author seems to have tried too much of everything while only succeeding at a few things. Although the idea of including so many characters to choose from is nice, most encounters are rather uncreatively designed, so there aren't really that many interesting situations to actually warrant playing the book through with each one of them. The conclusion is rather disappointing as well, as it feels like a linear path where you are led along by the hand rather than a challenge to get through.

Overall, I found this to be a passable read, but it's probably not worthwhile as a game or as an adventure story, so I wouldn't rate it as essential for gamebook readers. However, since it only saw the light of day in Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, it might be worth something to Tolkien fans as a collector's item.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary and Jesse McGatha for permission to repost his scans from rpggeek.com.
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