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|Malthus Dire's Thoughts:||
After the fairly dismal Redcoats and Minutemen, this book could only be better and, indeed, it is. FAR better! The plot covers Charles Edward Stewart (aka Bonnie Prince Charlie)'s doomed attempt at seizing the British throne in 1745/6. You play the son of a Highland clan chief who must choose whether to side with Charlie's rebels or with the English Army sent to repel them. If you opt for the rebels' side, there is definitely a perpetual feeling throughout the text that Charlie's cause is hopeless (which is historically accurate, as it WAS hopeless) and you are regularly asked to either reluctantly submit to his orders or stand up to him and point out the errors in his plans, sometimes with good and sometimes with bad outcomes. Choosing to fight with the English sends you on a rather more bloodthirsty route as you slaughter rebels, burn their villages, punish miscreants, and then ultimately wipe the Jacobites out at Culloden. The rebel route is rather linear and your choices generally make little odds to what happens next (perhaps to highlight the futility of the cause), whereas you have more options overall by siding with the English but this route is much harder to find at the start as the focus is on the Highlanders' general willingness to support Charlie (again, largely historically accurate). What really carries this book through and makes it so interesting is its relentless pace and the feeling that time is of the essence whichever side you are on. There are considerably fewer instant death sections here than in most of the other series entries (barring Blazing Beacons, which is equally as sparing on you), but this book is by no means easy as there is a fair amount of combat (as you'd expect), at times with unevenly strong opponents. A nice inclusion here is the return of the mechanic only used thus far in Madame Guillotine, whereby you can experience some events from either perspective depending on which side you choose. Granted, the approach here is not as granular as in the first book (i.e. this time it is not done on an individual person-to-person level), but rather covers different angles on broader large-scale events such as major battles and the acquisition of intelligence regarding key events. This is not quite as good as Sword and Flame as it does not go into the same depth, but it does reflect the urgency of the situation and recounts all of the important moments in its source material, plus the often distracting human interest story about your family plays a much smaller role here and actually adds to the experience. Overall, this is an enjoyable gamebook, that is well worth discovering.
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