Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998)
Vikingi - zavoevately [Викинги — завоеватели] (Russian)
Wing, Ron (interior)
I had no particular expectations of this book. The title seemed straightforward. Packard is a capable writer, and rarely jumps off the rails.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what's wrong with this book. It's straightforward, the writing is decent, and it doesn't do anything especially interesting. Despite the normal narrative tools, it still feels like a story that's being narrated. The choices don't feel like they matter, which might be because of the beginning of the story.
It's a long opening. Here's the summary:
You are a slave. After your owner says he plans on going on a big expedition, you decide you want to leave. With some encouragement and instruction, you escape. Then you run into a group of hunters. They don't like your former owner, and you join them. You're all free, you work together, and live in harmony for awhile. Then another tough guy raids your village, and you are taken as a slave, again.
You learn to build ships. You get to be very good at the work. You get your freedom, and then you get your first choice.
The book just treads water for a long time, and being a slave isn't conducive to making choices.
But I can't exactly fault the book. The writing is decent, there aren't issues with continuity, but it's just not interesting.
Overall I liked Viking Raiders for the purpose of introductory information on the culture, but I feel it did have a few faults as a gamebook as well.
I liked the characters well enough for what they were, thanks to good writing by Mr. Packard himself, and drawings by one of my personal favorite CYOA illustrators, Ron Wing. I'm a girly-girl who loved his work in The Magic of the Unicorn, and an animal-lover who was fascinated with his work in You Are a Shark, so I liked this book alone because I am a fan of his art. But, as for Mr. Packard's part, the story... Well, as I said, Mr. Packard writes well, describes scenery well, and writes a story worth reading in a mostly realistic way to describe the actual culture in an informative way, but also adds a couple mystic elements to describe their gods and beliefs too... The book is simply well written.
But, just to start with the faults, the book tends to be page-flippy, and there are places were you feel you should have had more choice. The beginning is where it is most irritating. He explains at the beginning that you are a slave, and you're going to try and run away. Okay. Then on your getaway you get caught by another slave master, and there was no real choices in between that over a span of about a dozen pages, it seemed just to fill up space, and that kind of irritated me for one particular reason. I like being able to get that ending in a book where you get some amazing treasure, or save the world, or some other kind of jackpot. There's a few ways to get a pretty good or noble ending in this story, but the only point where you could have made some serious moo-lah, a point where you get trapped in this 'pond connected to the ocean by an underground river,' and there's a trapped ship of an old Viking chieftain who was buried at sea with a bunch of gold coins, it ends with a 'you don't know whether you lived or died but it could have been either' kind of ending, which bummed me out, and made me wish he'd used the space getting captured a second time for an ending where you got that gold! I mean, there's another ending where you can get a pretty expensive-looking necklace, but you promise to never part with it, so realistically you're still more or less a poor peasant and that necklace is probably gonna get jacked by some other pillaging Viking raider you meet sooner rather than later. XD
Still, overall I liked the book, and if you're curious about Vikings, it's got the basics.
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