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Tournament for Terror

Series: Wizards, Warriors & You #10
Translated Into: Torneo de terror (Spanish)
Authors: Stine, Megan
Stine, H. William
Illustrator: Norem, Earl
Release Date: 1986
User Summary: One fine spring day, a golden knight appears out of nowhere, to challenge and humiliate the king's knights. While this is happening, the castle's treasury is looted!
pericles23's Thoughts: This series was my first great love in the world of gamebooks, and rereading some of these titles as an adult has been an interesting experience. Reviews of other titles have mentioned the random elements present, such as the story being affected by the toss of a coin, the day of the week, etc. Personally, I never minded these elements; knowing my life depended on the result of a coin toss or choosing the correct number brought great anticipation to my young mind. However, this particular title has none of those elements; the outcome is decided strictly by the choices the reader makes, and that would make many readers see it as an improvement over previous titles. Indeed, this adventure contains a nice back-story regarding King Henry's younger years and details of how the Wizard and Warrior entered into his service. It's written by Megan and H. William Stine, who also authored book 3 in the series, and on one occasion there is a reference to characters from that book, thus showing some minor series continuity. The book, for me, has a different 'feel' from previous titles. The mission, overall, is intriguing, and a couple of the less-successful endings result in interesting situations that split off into new tangents, rather than the traditional "you're dead, the end." Replayability is fairly high for a 95 section book, since the story contains a couple of major branches (besides the obvious split of choosing to play the Wizard or the Warrior).

However, the book is not without faults. There are occasions of continuity errors, illogical sequences and things that just don't make sense. In one section, the possibility of certain persons being in a room depends on what spell the wizard chooses to cast before entering. On another, the characters mention someone they possibly could have never met. There is at least one instance of the Wizard casting a spell that isn't listed in the spell book. One strange sequence has the Wizard and Warrior wandering around under a confusion spell; when they recover they are back at a certain location in the story; this is fine except for the fact that apparently, there was some time travel involved, as making the same decision leads to the exact same encounter with the sorcerer who cast the spell in the first place. Speaking of time travel, the whole move time forward / move time back spell is handled differently in the series by different authors. Some treat it as literally moving time back, others as going back/forward in time. In this book, there is one occasion where the Wizard casts a move-time-forward spell, only for the reader to be told, basically, "In the future, you're dead. The end." In another section, the characters fall under a spell of the Wizard becoming the Warrior, and vice-versa. This has potential, except that here, too, it's also apparently a time-travel spell, as the reader is told to restart the book as the other character. And on yet another occasion, the Wizard casts a move-time-back spell to go back to a previous decision point. This is an example of the game overtaking the story, because although the reader knows enough to make the opposite choice, he / she is told: "What happened previously ... has been erased from your memory." This is a lazy justification for achieving internal consistency later in the book; more importantly, if moving time back "erases" the Wizard's and Warrior's memory, what would prevent them from making the same choices (and casting move-time-back again, thus ending up in an infinite loop)?

Overall, I think the positives outweigh the negatives. In a nice change, the character opposite of the reader's choice plays a fairly significant role, unlike other titles where he is merely a helpless foil. There are also a few humorous passages, which is always a plus in my book. Score: 7/10

More reviews by pericles23

Special Thanks:Thanks to Gaetano Abbondanza for the plot summary.
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