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The Impostor King

Series: Wizards, Warriors & You #11
Alternate Title: The Imposter King (alternate spelling)
Translated Into: Den falske konge (Danish)
Authors: Stine, Megan
Stine, H. William
Illustrator: Norem, Earl
Release Date: 1986
User Summary: King Henry has been acting mighty strange lately. The Wizard and Warrior realize that this is because he's been replaced with an imposter!
pericles23's Thoughts: We have another book by Stine and Stine, and since it features the character Marquith, this title is a loose sequel to the previous book in the series. At any rate, this is a fun book to read. The situation is rather unusual, although it's not the only title in which King Henry's life is in direct in danger (see book 16, Attack on the King).

Like the previous title, the book has a different feel from others in the series. There are no random elements, and once again, there are some interesting back stories revealed or hinted at. Much like book 3, Who Kidnapped Princess Saralinda?, also by Stine and Stine, this title is a "whodunit;" (although only by playing the Wizard is the reader presented with a list of suspects); also like that book, much of this adventure takes place within Castle Silvergate. The castle itself is almost a character, and this is a nice touch; rather than being portrayed as a generic castle, Silvergate is personalized by having various areas of exploration described, such as the Dungeons and the Treasury. This story also trumps Harry Potter by a decade by describing a room deep underneath the castle containing a pool in which every square inch of the castle is displayed, as well as describing a "world (between worlds) of brightly lit tunnels that only wizards can enter... (where they) share their secrets and seal and rend friendships." In an interesting touch, the villains responsible for the deceit turn out to be a wizard and a warrior, but only the wizard's identity is revealed if the reader plays the Wizard, and only the warrior's identity is ultimately shown if the reader chooses to play the Warrior.

I found the Wizard's quest to be better written overall, although the Warrior's quest has a more satisfying climax.

Like book 10, however, there are multiple issues. At one point, near the end of the Wizard's quest, the reader is asked if he or she has a specific piece of information, and to turn to the section number that matches it (much like a Fighting Fantasy book). However, if the proper number is not known, the reader is simply instructed as to the proper section to go find the answer. While this is forgiving, it makes no sense within the story, since the characters are gone for at least a day but return to the same situation as if no time had passed.

Once again, there are issues with spell casting. The book of spells specifically states that the "Flight" spell may only be cast once per adventure; in this story it is used twice (actually, three times, since at one point the heroes must fly over a barrier, and then (presumably) fly back to return). At another point, after casting a "combat magic" spell (which the spell book states the wizard needs 24 hours to recover from before having the energy to cast another spell), the reader is give an option of casting a "move time forward" spell so that the rest process can be sped up. Obviously, this is impossible (reread this sentence if you don't see why), and indeed, if the reader chooses this option, the book berates him for his stupidity and instructs him to go back and choose the other option. There's no reason to include such a sequence except to take up space.

Like the previous book in the series, there are spells cast that are nowhere to be found in the Wizard's spell book (in one amusing sequence, the Wizard is forced to cast a spell on an individual which will enable him to live forever; the downside is that in order to live forever the man is turned into a gigantic serpent which immediately slithers into a lake... Loch Ness lake.)

The Warrior's story has issues as well. A fair number of choices are wasted by asking the reader multiple times if he has a certain weapon - in fact there are two failure endings that are impossible to reach. In one of them, the reader is instructed "if you have weapon a, b, or c, go to this section; if you have weapon d, e, or f, go here; but if you don't have any of these, go here." Since there are only 8 weapons to choose from (Not counting the Sword of the Golden Lion, which is always carried) the third option is impossible. At another point, the reader is asked if he has a certain weapon which was already needed to get to that point to begin with.

Besides game mechanics, there are issues with the Warrior's storyline (as I mentioned, it's not as well written as the Wizard's). An integral but rather silly sequence is when the Warrior's father's ghost appears out of nowhere in the middle of the quest; the first thing it does is ask for a specific weapon; if the warrior doesn't have it, the ghost berates him as an idiot and things quickly descend into death (the ghost can't wait five minutes for someone to go to the armory and retrieve it?!). In addition, the ghost knows who is responsible for replacing the king, but won't tell; instead he offers to send a signal at a future point. (Illogical and just plain stupid). At another point, a beast shows up which is described as enchanted and therefore immune to spells (where a few pages earlier the Wizard had cast a spell successfully on said beast). And finally, at some point the Wizard just seems to disappear from the Warrior's quest; for example, at a point where the heroes are trapped in a stable and attacked by possessed horses, the Warrior must have the correct weapon or the adventure is over. Umm, how about the Wizard casting a spell on these horses such as shrink, or sorcerer's sleep, or forest imp's freeze, or, I don't know, command animals (which he does end up casting after the immediate danger is over!?)

These problems prevent what could have been a truly great book from advancing much beyond average; still I'll rate it as 7.5 / 10.

More reviews by pericles23

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