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Carnival of Demons

Series: Wizards, Warriors & You #14
Author: Sno, William
Illustrator: Norem, Earl
Release Date: 1986
Length:95 sections
User Summary: The Half-Moon Carnival is headed towards Castle Silvergate. Why is King Henry so terrified? Why does he beg the Wizard and Warrior to "release me from the past?"
pericles23's Thoughts: This title is from William Sno. Unless the name is a pseudonym, this is the only book he wrote for the series, which is just as well since it's rather forgettable (apart from the terrific cover). And that's too bad, because there's potential here-- a carnival is an unusual and interesting setting for a gamebook, and the characters glimpsed in this story display some promise.

The carnival itself is really just a cover for the main villain, a demon queen who made a pact with King Henry's father, John, seventy-two years earlier. Now she's come to collect her debt-- basically, King Henry's title. As mentioned, the story's backdrop goes deep into the past, and so there is some time travel involved as well: the Wizard and Warrior journey back to the time of King John's rule to unravel the mystery.

This is all just way too much to cram into a 95 section gamebook, and the story suffers from some rather abrupt endings. The Warrior's path is especially punishing-- as in the other books, you get to choose three weapons to take in addition to your sword. However, if you don't take three specific weapons, you have no chance of completing the quest. In addition to that, there are some rather puzzling issues with the game mechanics. In one instance, if the warrior has weapon "A", he defeats an enemy and then has a chance to defeat another enemy. However, if he has weapon "B", he defeats the same enemy but then has no chance against the next opponent; the text leads to defeat without the same opportunity given with the first weapon. Another problem (due no doubt to the scarcity of sections, but which still should have been addressed) is that one of the weapons the Warrior may choose to select in the beginning is a polished shield which reverses the nature of anyone who gazes into it (evil to good, or vice versa). As the use of this weapon at an opportune time would basically ensure an automatic victory, the book should have accounted for the possibility that the Warrior might have it. But it doesn't-- the book never mentions this weapon, never asks if the Warrior has it. (IMO, the later books have too many magical weapons as options for the Warrior to bring. The Warrior's armory from the first six books feels much more realistic).

The Wizard's path is rather bland, with little excitement until the final encounter. In fact, there really isn't any interaction with the carnival itself. One odd note regarding the Wizard's path-- at one point, the reader is told (I'm paraphrasing) "Things look really bad. If you think they're hopeless, stop reading. The End. If you have the strength to continue, turn to page XX." I've never seen that in any other gamebook.

A couple of other random observations-- In the Wizard's path, the first part of the adventure takes place in the past, and the resolution occurs in the present time. In the Warrior's adventure, the story begins in the present and ends in the past.

In the Wizard's adventure, the Sorceress is described wearing a red dress. In the Warrior's, she wears green.

All in all, this is an average entry at best for this series.

More reviews by pericles23

Special Thanks:Thanks to pericles23 for the plot summary.
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