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Item - The Evil Wizard




Series: Choose Your Own Adventure for Younger Readers — no. 22
Translated Into: El bruixot malvat (Catalan)
El hechicero malvado (Spanish)
La malédiction du sorcier (French)
Author: Packard, Andrea
Illustrator: Wing, Ron
Date: November, 1984
ISBNs: 055315303X / 9780553153033
0553154184 / 9780553154184
Length: 54 pages
Number of Endings: 13
User Summary: You must save your village from the icy spell of an evil wizard.
Demian's Thoughts:

This book was written by Edward Packard's then-college-age daughter while she studied at Swarthmore College, and it's interesting to see a book written by someone who was the recipient of the bedtime stories which inspired the whole Choose Your Own Adventure thing in the first place. Unfortunately, the book isn't as interesting as its own origins, being a rather generic fairy-tale-style fantasy. It's probably somewhat evocative for an imaginative child in its target age group, but there's really not much there for anyone else.

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KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

Edward Packard is arguably the most important figure in Choose Your Own Adventure history, and his daughter Andrea also contributed to the franchise. Her first gamebook was The Evil Wizard in 1984, which Andrea wrote as a junior at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. In the story, you live in a time long ago of superstition and real magic. While visiting your friend Jason in a town near Wizard's Wood—a forest named for a sorcerer who terrorized the people years ago—you attend a public fair featuring all sorts of Renaissance entertainment. But a dark cloud sweeps over the merry gathering, and snow begins falling from the suddenly frigid skies. Jason tells you the wizard must be back, and the town will remain in the icy grip of his sorcery for as long as it amuses him to toy with it. Can anyone restore summer?

Young as you are, you and Jason aim to end the wizard's power over the town once and for all. You might meet an elderly woman named Ama, who is familiar with the wizard's black magic. She knows the enchanted words that will defeat him if someone sneaks into his home and speaks them over him as he sleeps. The mission is fraught with danger: an oversized black cat with fangs and hypnotic yellow eyes protects the wizard's door, and the wizard forces children to be his slaves if he catches them on his property. Nina, one of those slaves, will help you sneak into the house and hide, but you only get one shot at reciting Ama's spell and disabling the wizard's magic. Capitalize on that opportunity and you'll be a hero.

If you never cross paths with Ama, then you and Jason regroup at his house for a strategy session regarding how to combat the wizard's wintry assault. Jason's sister Kate suggests you approach the wizard as potential apprentices, then betray him after you know enough magic to counteract his snow spell. The wizard is a haggard brute with burning red eyes. Only the mean-spirited are capable of sorcery, he growls at you and Kate; are you up to it? You may opt to keep the pretense going, but be cautious of indulging your nastier whims to impress the wizard. Even feigned cruelty has its pitfalls. Once you have access inside the wizard's home, there will be chances to reverse the snow spell, but your limited knowledge of magic could exacerbate the problem if you're not careful. Legend has it that the wizard's power emanates from his crystal ball; destroy it and his hold on the town will be broken. Accompanied by Jason or on your own, you can go after this talisman, but the wizard guards it jealously. He may turn Jason into a frozen statue and refuse to thaw him unless you complete an impossible task, but a small act of kindness you did earlier could circle back to save you both, and the town. When battling sorcery, a warm heart often triumphs over a cold, mean one.

High fantasy is outside the typical range of the Bantam Skylark Choose Your Own Adventures. Andrea Packard fills The Evil Wizard with just enough energy and unpredictability to interest older kids while keeping the story paths short for the sake of younger ones. The choices are legitimately challenging, and determine the difference between triumph and doom as you attempt to loosen the wizard's iron grip on Jason's town. Whether you end up as the wizard's slave or revoke his tyranny and become a celebrity is entirely in your hands. The Evil Wizard is a fun book, a good option for repeated rereads.

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Special Thanks:Thanks to Ken G. for the yellow cover scans.
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