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Avenger!

(British cover)
(American cover)
Series: The Way of the Tiger #1
Translated Into: Hämnaren (Swedish)
Taiga no ansatsukyo [タイガー暗殺拳] (Japanese)
Vendicatore! (Italian)
Vengador (Spanish)
La Vengeance du Ninja (French)
Adapted Into: Avenger (Video Game)
The Way of the Tiger (Video Game)
Authors: Smith, Mark
Thomson, Jamie
Illustrator: Harvey, Bob
Release Date: 1985
Length:420 sections
User Summary: As a ninja trained in the deadly Way of the Tiger, you must leave your island home to stop evil monk Yaemon from performing a ritual that will leave your god trapped in the hellish Inferno.
dArtagnan's Thoughts: This is a good start to the series. The plot is fairly gripping as you track Yaemon and his allies from town to town, though it might have been more dramatic if more emphasis was placed on your character's need for revenge against Yaemon for killing his foster father. The writing is mostly solid, only really suffering from the occasional awkward expression (my favourite: "Looking quickly around you can see that the Reavers, with their ear-rings and scimitars are more than a match for the crew" - if only my crew had thought to arm themselves with ear-rings!) and there is the odd piece of sloppiness: minor inconsistencies where the authors assumed you reach a section by a certain route when you could have got there via another. There's nothing major though and Smith and Thomson should be commended for bringing the world of Orb to life so well. Orb feels more like a place people might actually live in than the standard fantasy world. The book also has quite a few good set pieces, the highlights of which are a creative tournament that you can enter and an infiltration of a castle. These ensure that the book will stay in your memory. Bob Harvey's artwork is also memorable even if it's rarely very pretty.

Probably the most striking aspect of this series, though, are the battles, which rather than being simple affairs dealt with in one paragraph, require you to choose repeatedly how to attack: perhaps you could try a kick to your enemy's head or try throwing him and then punching while he's on the ground? It's certainly more interesting than battles in the likes of Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf, though it does begin to get a tad repetetive after a while. Jamie Thomson improved the battle system in his later Eternal Champions books, where battles were always very different from each other as they relied more on you adapting your styles of fighting depending on your situation. What lets the book down more though is that the special ninja skills that you may choose between are unbalanced - some are useful in a variety of sitautions while some are very rarely useful at all. While making all skills equally useful would negate the point of choosing between them, it would be better if they all got at least some representation in the book.

The book's difficulty is about right. Battles are tough, but never unfairly so, and the book does give you a variety of options in getting to your final goal, although some methods are definitely easier than others. Avenger! also succeeds in rewarding you for thinking like a ninja assassin. Often it is better to be cautious, cowardly or treacherous than to act in the noble way expected by most other gamebooks. All this makes for a very interesting gamebook and hopefully its minor flaws will be improved upon in the later books.

More reviews by dArtagnan

SilentGunman's Thoughts: As far as gamebook series go, Way of the Tiger is vastly underrated. It's a shame that there were only 6 books published in the series, because it is one of the best written gamebook series I've ever encountered. The author is able to flesh out the world of Orb and the various characters without over-writing the book or making it boring. The combat is well-described, but the system may take some getting used to for people who are new to playing gamebooks. There are some similarities to Lone Wolf (each book continues where the other leaves off, you gain a new Ninja ability for each book you complete). Avenger! is an excellent start to a series that was likely cut short before its time.

More reviews by SilentGunman

Special Thanks:Thanks to dArtagnan for the plot summary.
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Users Who Want This Item: Aryon, Grifter, jeremydouglass, MasterChief, NEMO, odo_ital, Pessimeister, Rozo, skttrbrain
Users with Extra Copies: bookwormjeff - US
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Gamebook - 2 extras
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