Akuma no tsume o ore! [悪魔の爪を折れ！] (Japanese)
L'artiglio del demone (Italian)
Demonski nokat [Демонски нокът] (Bulgarian)
Le port des assassins (French)
Wingate, Geoff (cartography)
August 20, 2014
1909905186 / 9781909905184
Without exaggeration, The Demon's Claw is the finest entry in the best 'ongoing story' gamebook series ever crafted, though I say this having not read the famed Fabled Lands series.
The scope of the world and adventure created in this book is breathtaking. In the one adventure, you must find and negotiate with a snaky traitor, traverse and explore a magical pirate ship, deal with a genie, steal from a wizard's fortress, overcome betrayal, perform a dungeon crawl, meet your arch-foe... and that's only a partial list!
This is the book that, for me, reads most like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, with each character having a role to play, and skilful selection of options (and not just blind luck of the dice) being vital to success.
The difficulty of this book is, in a weird way, secondary. Given the richness of the world, playing through the book on multiple occasions is a pleasure rather than a chore (as compared to certain Ian Livingstone monstrosities). The depth of even minor characters created in the book is fascinating.
The end of the book, as mentioned in another review, is a wonderful lead-in to the next in the series.
Highest recommendation, but only after the lead-in of the first two books.
The Demon's Claw is a great gamebook, and only a totally show-stopping oversight by the writers stops it being my best gamebook ever.
The setting for this almost obscenely thick gamebook is the occupied city of Crescentium - think of a magical Crusader-occupied Jerusalem circa 1150. A lot of Arabian Night favourites (with twists) make appearances over the course of the book: a particular favourite is the time your characters are stranded on a desert island and must bargain with the most singularly devious djinni to have ever graced the pages of a story to earn the wishes necessary to escape (and get rich to boot). Also, an old villain makes a welcome re-appearance: Icon the Ungodly! The text is crammed with flavour, and as a kid I was very much taken with it: flying from island to island in the clutches of a Roc, gambling with heathens in the Fabled City of the Faith, battling the dreaded Seven-in-One (a most puissant enemy), and stealing aboard a magical pirate ship are just some of the fabulous scenes in this adventure. Awesome!
However, there is one absolutely stone-cold game-killing flaw in the book. If you have played through the earlier books in the series you might come into this adventure equipped with some quite powerful magical items. For example, you may well have the Flying Carpet of the wicked August de Vantery from The Kingdom of Wyrd. If so that's quite unlucky, because you will be offered the chance to use it in the course of the adventure and if you do, you *cannot* get through the final section of the book. It's not just the Flying Carpet... basically, you need to refuse five or six opportunities to use items that you may have in order to be presented with the opportunity to get your mitts on an item that is absolutely crucial to finishing the book. This is one of the few gamebooks where I actually cheated to be able to carry on because I got so frustrated. What's worse is that even if you manage to get yourself to the section where you can acquire this critical item, you *have* to have the Trickster in your party, otherwise it's game over again.
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