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Item - The King's Demon

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Series: Robin of Sherwood — no. 1
Translated Into: Il demonio del re (Italian)
Demônio do rei (Portuguese)
Authors: Staplehurst, Graham
Mason, Paul (uncredited)
Illustrator: Nicholson, Russ
Date: 1987
ISBN: 0140322949 / 9780140322941
Length: 400 sections
Number of Endings: 11 (not including failure by loss of points)
User Summary: You are Robin Hood. News reaches you that Sir Jean du Melusine, a dangerous Frenchman, has arrived in England to assist the evil King John. Obviously, you decide to do something about this unfortunate event....
Demian's Thoughts:

This is a nice start to the series. It's not too hard, giving lots of opportunities to heal up and avoiding too many pointless instant death situations, but it's challenging enough that it's unlikely to be won on the first attempt. It took me about five tries to claim victory, but I never found the book too frustrating or repetitive. Although the major events of the story take place in roughly the same order each time through, there are enough choices that the reader can interact with the set events in a number of different ways; it never just comes down to an irritatingly-hard series of dice rolls, as far too many gamebooks tend to. I also very much enjoyed the game system used here -- the mechanics add excitement to the story rather than just slowing it down. I wasn't too pleased by the wound diagram illustrations, though -- they're so detailed that they're not very useful for keeping track of anything; in fact, without referring to the rules on wounding, I could never have figured out which boxes went with which body areas, or even which parts of the pictures were supposed to be boxes. I wasn't overly impressed by the story at first, perhaps partially due to my lack of familiarity with the Robin of Sherwood TV show, but once a few pieces fell into place, I enjoyed it. My biggest complaint, apart from the hard-to-use wound diagrams, is that victory seems to come rather quickly if it comes at all; perhaps I was just lucky, however. In any case, flaws or not, this is a book worth reading.

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juski's Thoughts:

The following review was written in 1987 when I was a teenager.

RoS1: The King’s Demon

Author: Graham Staplehurst
Cover Illustration: Photo
Internal illustrations: Russ Nicholson
Setting: Sherwood Forest during Robin Hood’s era!
Price: £1.95
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)

Here’s a new series from Puffin. Entitled Robin of Sherwood gamebooks, they are about (surprise, surprise) Robin Hood and based upon the excellent ITV series. For this reason, considering how good the TV programme is, I was rather doubtful about these books, thinking the stories would either be direct adaptations of their television versions or that they’d turn Robin Hood into the goody-goody character that Errol Flynn portrayed.

However, with The King's Demon I was pleasantly surprised. Your objective is to defeat Sir Jean of Melusine, a cunning and evil ally of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who has magical powers.

The game mechanics work well and the course of events are often influenced by your current companions. (These being Maid Marion, Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Nasir and Much.) Also, your sword Albion, given to you by Herne the Hunter, your spiritual father and protector of Sherwood Forest. You are given 10 skills and a pool of 50 points to divide between them. (The number of references, incidentally, is 400.)

I won’t say anymore about the plot as this book’s strong point is knowing nothing about what is going to happen, holding you in suspense right up to the excellent climax.

The cover is a photo of Jason Connery, who plays Robin in the TV series. The internal illustrations are by Russ Nicholson who has illustrated several books in the Fighting Fantasy series (FF1, FF2 & FF23).

I thoroughly recommend this book. It’s very realistic and atmospheric, written so well that you feel like you’re actually there. If you don’t buy it may the Sheriff of Nottingham skin you alive!

Originality: 17/20. A new series, so it should be original.
The Adventure: 18/20. Very exciting throughout.
Cover illustration: N/A. A photo of Robin of Sherwood to connect the book with the TV series.
Internal illustrations: 16/20. Simple but effective.

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