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Item - Return of the White Witch

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(Proof copy (cover only))
(1st printing)

Combined Summary

Series: Narnia Solo Games — no. 5
Author: Bell, Rob
Illustrators: McDermott, Michael (cover)
Martin(-Schobe), Ellisa (1st printing - interior)
Date: 1988 (1st printing)
ISBN: 0425112764 / 9780425112762
Length: 308 sections (numbered 100 to 407) plus a prologue with choices (1st printing)
Special Thanks: Proof copy (cover only):
Thanks to Luke Sheridan for the scan.
andrewschultz's Thoughts:

I'd have loved a book like Return of the White Witch when I was younger. I probably wouldn't have noticed its faults. Years later, after discovering it in storage, well, I don't mind its faults.

The plot is pretty much a mashup of the first two books (in order of writing), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. You're a pretty generic kid who just found Narnia. You learn the White Witch is back, and the Pevensies have returned to England, and Tumnus is in charge, but he's having trouble. The Dwarves and talking animals have different ideas on how to fix things.

The book has stats and dice rolls and so forth, but very little of that matters. There's no real way to die, and the only stat that really matters is inner strength. You gain it by behaving well and lose it by behaving badly. I suspect any reasonably mature teenager will know what to do, but all the same, it's fun to follow the wrong passages through, just because. And you'll probably want to, since the book is also relatively on rails. You will be able to explore Narnia a bit, and there are several bad guys you run into (fans of the series will figure things out quickly), but whether or not you escape capture, you go into battle with the White Witch. With everything funneled to a "yay, you're back" ending, there's no real way to lose badly, although if you make particularly silly choices, Aslan may tell you you should have done better, or powerful allies may hint they see through your obvious games (e.g. lying, bragging).

The book tries to present moral dilemmas, but they're not exactly hefty. I suppose the target audience is kids, so it doesn't want to present horrible deaths or make the reader feel silly. But it also doesn't take any real creative risks. It doesn't exactly plagiarize anything, but I was constantly matching up a narrative passage or moral lesson in the gamebook with something I remembered from the original, which was better.

I can't blame the book's author for that. I figured I'd need to manage expectations. And I was glad I read it, glad enough to want to check out the other books. But it never really soars.

More reviews by andrewschultz

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guy Fullerton for the cover scan.
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Known Editions

Proof copy (cover only)
1st printing

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