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Leda: Book the First of the Maduban Saga

Series: Party of One #1
Author: Yee, Suzi
Release Date: April, 2003
Length:241 sections (plus 5 combat appendices)
Number of Endings:3
User Summary: Leda, an elvish Rogue/Wizard who left home to study magic in the city, finds her past catching up with her and her future likely to get more interesting.
Demian's Thoughts: This is yet another unimpressive amateur effort. Unlike the disappointing Rangers of Taradoin or Lands of Delorian series, this offering at least featured a first volume that I was somehow able to plod my way through, but I very nearly didn't bother. When I first downloaded the book, there was no printable version available, and the number of errors I encountered in just a few minutes of reading made my patience with staring at my screen quickly waver. I complained, and to my delight, the publishers quickly revised the book to include a printable version, fixing a few errors along the way. A noble effort, but not enough to make this product worthwhile. For one thing, although some errors have been fixed, others have not, and there remain many spelling errors (mostly involving the accidental use of homonyms) and awkward sentence constructions. Even if all of these were fixed, though, the book's flowery but awkward writing would make it hard to tolerate at times. The author's inability to introduce characters smoothly into the story is also frequently jarring. Mediocre writing could be forgiven in the face of good gameplay, but there's no gameplay to speak of here. The book is totally linear, with the vast majority of sections ending simply in "go to x" rather than in a choice. There is no attachment to the character since it is pre-created, and the fact that there is no opportunity for strategy in assigning skill points makes what few skill checks there are unsatisfying and unsuspenseful. Combat is handled poorly, with the reader having two options: read a narrative description of the fight (sometimes with a token choice or two) or else run the fight based on giant blocks of d20 stats without any tactical notes. This is a case of two undesirable extremes; just reading about the combat takes away a great chance for exciting gameplay, but being dumped with stat blocks and being forced to figure out what all the sides would do in a fight is just tedious and lacking in direction. Some happy medium should have been reached, but this would have taken more effort than anyone seems to have wanted to invest in this book. By the time I reached the "cliffhanger ending," I was left feeling that nothing had really happened. The story never went anywhere (apart for some shallow character development rendered unimpressive by the unengaging writing style), and there was absolutely no sense of having played a good (or, let's face it, even bad) game of Dungeons & Dragons. It's totally astounding how thoroughly the book fails to live up to even an ounce of its potential. Alas, I once again feel compelled to advise against purchasing a newly-released gamebook, even though I'd love to be able to promote it.

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