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Item - The Sword of the Templar

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Series: Robin of Sherwood — no. 2
Translated Into: A espada do templário (Portuguese)
La spada del templare (Italian)
Authors: Mason, Paul
Staplehurst, Graham (uncredited)
Illustrator: Nicholson, Russ
Date: 1987
ISBN: 0140322957 / 9780140322958
Length: 400 sections
Number of Endings: 2 (one victory, one generic failure led to by many sections)
User Summary: You ambush a mysterious Templar Knight who possesses a powerful black sword, and you are compelled to learn more about him....
Demian's Thoughts:

The first thing that struck me about this book was that it doesn't contain rules for using the character from the previous volume. There's no character advancement, and it doesn't seem that you can bring over Power of Light and Darkness points or equipment from the prior adventure. This makes sense, since doing so would probably throw off the game balance a bit, but it's still a little disappointing; I like continuity of character. Upon reading the book, I also found that there's no real continuity with the first book's story, either; you could read the books in reverse order and barely notice the difference (except that some characters can apparently die in book two even though they can't in book one). Reaching the book's victorious ending is no more difficult than it was in the previous volume, but achieving a perfect score is much harder, requiring you to go on a couple of sub-quests. This design sounds good, but I didn't particularly like it; once I had successfully finished the book once, it seemed a chore to go back and figure out where I had missed things on previous trips. After a dozen or so attempts, I got bored and gave up. Because of this, I didn't feel this book was as strong as its predecessor; however, other people may like it more for exactly the same reason. The positive comments about the system (and negative comments about the wound diagrams) that I made about the previous book also apply here; there's also a lot of clever use of special items to keep track of where players have been and who they have met. A decent book, but not as impressive as I had hoped it would be.

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juski's Thoughts:

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

RoS2: The Sword of the Templar

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

And here’s the second Robin of Sherwood gamebook, this time written by Paul Mason (who also wrote The Riddling Reaver with Steve Williams). This time you must defeat the Knight Templar, Roger of Ledbury, who intends to dispose of you and Herne as he believes that your ‘father’ is a pagan god.

Once again, there are your companions to help you and the (in)famous sword of seven swords, Albion. If you remember the television series* there was a feature-length couple of episodes in which the seven swords of Wayland were captured by Morgwyn of Ravenscar in an attempt to summon Lucifer. All except Albion were cast into The Pit. However, Sir Roger now has Elidor, one of the seven, which has been returned to the world, blackened and charred, but still whole. (* If you don’t watch the TV series, slap your own wrists immediately.)

Although this direct connection with the television series increased the book's interest value, I was rather disappointed upon completing it, as it was very much like RoS1: The King’s Demon, except with a different baddie. I feel that these books need to be connected together, similar to Arrow’s Lone Wolf gamebooks, rather than one-offs like the Fighting Fantasy series. There should be a quest that’s not achieved in one book but over several, like the Sorcery! series. This would make them more enjoyable with more meaning. It seems silly having hundreds of baddies turning up in Sherwood Forest, one at a time, for Robin to then kill with Albion. Hopefully the mention of Simon de Belleme will form the basis of book 3.

The cover is once more a photo, showing Albion held by Robin, giving a hint at the plot. The internal illustrations are again by Russ Nicholson.

If you are a fan of Robin Hood, this book is worth buying. If you have only just heard of these gamebooks, buy book 1 as it’s equally as good. If you already own book 1, then be prepared for a similar storyline. I suggest reading a few other gamebooks between these two.

Originality: 13/20. Too similar to book 1, killing an evil man with a foreign power source.
The Adventure: 16/20. Enjoyable and exciting, but was spoilt by its similarity in plot to book 1.
Cover illustration: N/A. Another photo of Robin, but this time also including Albion.
Internal illustrations: 16/20. Simple but effective.

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