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Madame Guillotine: The French Revolution

(British cover)
(American cover)
Series: Real Life Gamebooks #1
Alternate Title: The Bloody Rebellion (American edition)
Translated Into: Madama Ghigliottina (Italian)
Madame Giljotin (Swedish)
Madame Guillotine : den franske revolution (Danish)
L'Ombre de la guillotine (French)
Authors: Farrell, Simon
Sutherland, Jon(athan)
Illustrators: Wood, Cathy (British cover)
Dodge, Bill (American cover)
Williams, Brian (interior)
Release Dates: 1986 (British edition)
1988 (American edition)
Length:300 sections
Number of Endings:32
Malthus Dire's Thoughts: The first in Jon Sutherland's Real Life series has you assuming the role of a minor French aristocrat at the start of the French Revolution. From the outset you are required to choose which side you will join and, as events unfold, this determines whether you will be the enemy of the fleeing aristocracy or of the revolutionaries themselves and the plot is based around this very binary goodies/baddies situation as you negotiate your way through several key events of the Revolution. Essentially, most fail paths involve either being guillotined (if you are with the aristos) or shot (if you are a revolutionary) with victories involving escape to England (aristo side) or remaining in the emancipated French Republic (revolutionary side), so the final outcomes of your choices are very-much pre-destined, but what this book does brilliantly is the way it handles the "who is good and who is bad?" dichotomy. As the book plays out, each scenario can be played from either angle, e.g. as you flee Paris in a carriage (aristo path) you will meet a group of pro-Revolution guards at the gates who will try to kill you; however, playing as a revolutionary means you are one of the guards who is trying to prevent the carriage from escaping. Another neat example of this is when, as a revolutionary, you sit on a clff-face trying to pick-off fleeing aristos with a musket, but, play as an aristo, and you are running across the beach trying to get to a boat before the revolutionary snipers on the cliff gun you down. Needless to say, this mechanic makes the book eminently re-playable and finding all of the inter-connecting aristo vs revolutionary cameos (from both perspectives) really does add something and shows just how much thought has gone into the design and plotting of this gamebook. If there is one flaw it is that the text is a little juvenile and seems to be aimed at a Junior High audience, but that does not detract from what is a very enjoyable and well put-together gamebook.

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Special Thanks:Thanks to Ed Jolley for the British cover scan.
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