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Quest for the Elf King

Series: Swordquest #4
Author: Fawcett, Bill
Illustrators: McPheeters, Neal (cover)
Hamilton, Todd Cameron (interior)
O'Malley, Gerald (Jerry) (cartography)
Release Date: January, 1987
ISBN: 0441203264 / 9780441203260
Length:93 sections
Number of Endings:2 (one bad ending led to from 27 places and one victory)
User Summary: Lor the elf isn't having a very good day; after a near-death encounter with a weretiger, he finds that all is not well with the local royalty....
Demian's Thoughts: This is a thoroughly disappointing conclusion to a series that, while not brilliant, showed some promise. Despite a few nice touches (like the book's handling of small details of elf and lycanthrope culture), there are far more flaws than merits. As before, the game system is pointless and the plot is linear. Losing the flexibility added by clerical spells in the previous volume is unfortunate, and things are rendered all the more boring by the near-total lack of items to collect during the adventure. Apart from a clever trap or two, there are almost no meaningful choices, and far too much time is spent rolling dice over and over in tedious combats. The difficulty is rather too high as well; I eventually found the optimal path through the book, but I only had one remaining hit point at the end even after taking the optional healing potion recommended for lowering the challenge level of the book. Despite the low section count and barely-branching storyline, there are even some continuity problems and loose ends. It really feels as if the author was tired and wanted to get it all over with, and the fact that he designed rules for some later gamebook series without writing many more actual adventures seems to support this theory. When I put this one down, I didn't really feel any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction; perhaps the series should have quit while it was ahead.

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Fireguard's Thoughts: With this book, Swordquest goes out on what was probably the weakest entry of an already confused series. The gameplay is some of the sketchiest and most poorly utilized I've seen from a gamebook of this type. In the first battle, for instance, the player's character is said to be using a sword. However, a sword is not listed in his equipment, which left me confused as to how I was supposed to calculate the damage I was dealing. The villain's stronghold also reminded me of Knight of Illusion (not a good thing) with dice-rolling, and what decisions there were tended to be dry or to center around which threats to disbelieve. Not fun or immersive. The parts involving the hero's love interest were especially limp when they weren't flat-out confusing. The romance facet of Freeway Warrior worked better (and it didn't work very well). Quest for the Elf King is also the book in the series hit hardest by the hard to discern rules about armor modifying enemy strike values, with no mentionable armor of any sort being available to the hero. It was plenty hard not taking that into account, I wonder if it was intentionally supposed to be even harder.

More reviews by Fireguard

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ken G. for the back cover scan.
Users Who Own This Item: B0N0V0X, BarefootJimmy, CSquared, desdichado66, Dronak, Ffghtermedic, Fireguard, horrorbusiness, katzcollection, killagarilla, knginatl, le maudit, Malthus Dire, mattender, mlvoss, Naniyue, nelsondesign, Nomad, Pessimeister, peterm2, plowboy, Pseudo_Intellectual, Robert Mammone, Sir Olli, sireeyore, spragmatic, StagQuests, Tremendez, truce57, twar, Yalius
Users Who Want This Item: Crazyscotsman, Cyan, Gartax, greyarea13, kinderstef, NEMO
Users with Extra Copies: twar - 1 copy. Small markings on front cover. One spine line. Crease on back. No pencil markings. Old remains of removed price sticker on front cover.

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