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Item - Russia: What is the Golden Horde?

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Series: Earth Inspectors — no. 12
Author: Packard, Edward
Illustrator: Carter, Barbara
Date: 1990
KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

This series of gamebooks has good educational value but in general doesn't press that aspect so hard that the entertainment of the story starts to be diminished. As with the previous two Earth Inspectors entries that I've read, Russia: What is the Golden Horde? has only one ending, and no possible way of dying or reaching a bad finish. The decisions that you make while navigating the narrative simply give you some freedom (quite a bit of freedom, actually) in the manner that you go about your business finding the answer that you've been sent to find.

The idea behind the book is that you are a member of an alien race far from earth who has become curious about the apparent idiosyncrasies that dot earth's history. Therefore a team of explorers known as the "Earth Inspectors" has been formed to look into these matters, and you, as the protagonist of the story, are a member of the group. In this book you are to be sent to Russia during the turmoil of socialist revolution, in a time and place where freedom of expression is severely limited and most of the people live in fear and poverty. You are of a technologically superior race to the humans and have many advantages in retaining your freedom and not being harmed by the menacing Communist government, but your technologies are by no means foolproof, and serious traps and dangers await every step that you take in Soviet Russia.

Readers who are familiar with the idea of gamebooks primarily via the more famous Choose Your Own Adventure series may find this book to be a bit on the long side, but the action moves along well and the characters are solidly built. Edward Packard is perhaps the best writer of gamebooks that I've ever come across, and reading his stories is always worth the time.

So, while going through this book I would suggest that the reader keep in mind its original intent, that Earth Inspectors was designed first and foremost for educational purposes. If the reader remembers that and enjoys the story for what it is, then it is a good book, and I would recommend it.

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