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Dungeon of Dread

Series: Endless Quest #1
Contained In: The Endless Quest Collectors Set #1 (Collection)
Translated Into: L'antro del terrore (Italian)
A caverna do terror (Portuguese)
Las cavernas del terror (Spanish)
Le Donjon de l'effroi (French)
Die Höhle des Ungeheuers (German)
Makyuu no tatakai [魔宮のたたかい] (Japanese)
Tumnitsata na uzhasa [Тъмницата на ужаса] (Bulgarian)
Author: Estes, Rose
Illustrators: Elmore, Larry (cover)
Holloway, James (Jim) (interior)
Release Date: June, 1982
ISBN: 0935696865 / 9780935696868
Length:128 pages (plus illustrations on unnumbered pages)
Number of Endings:10
User Summary: You are Caric, a fighter. An annoying halfling thief leads you to a dungeon containing "all the treasure in the world." In this dungeon, you battle various nasties in an attempt to get rich quick.
Demian's Thoughts: Not a bad start for the series, though the "size doesn't matter" messages get annoying fast.

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Guillermo's Thoughts: In 1982 a book came out with a premise that was revolutionary for many young readers. This book made the reader the protagonist in the story. The reader would play a fighter who enters a dungeon and, after facing a variety of fierce monsters, engages a powerful sorcerer in deadly combat. At the end of the day, the reward for the protagonist would be a huge treasure hoard. This book sold millions of copies worldwide. I'm not talking about The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, but rather about Dungeon of Dread.

Not only are the plot similarities between the two books striking; both books served to introduce millions of young readers to fantasy roleplaying. Dungeon of Dread is a very formulaic dungeon crawl, with the author taking very few liberties with the D&D milieu. This, coupled with the lack of a combat system, means that the book will not impress readers already hardened on Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf. The halfling companion which appears in the story can also be quite annoying.

In spite of all these shortcomings, the book provides a good interactive experience. The writing is fast-paced and entertaining, and while reaching a successful ending is way too easy, exploring the dungeon over and over is a great deal of fun. The book is certainly much more readable than many later entries in the series. Overall, I recommend it if you want to introduce someone to roleplaying, or if you just need a good fix of dungeon crawling without having to bother with rules and randomization.

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Kveto's Thoughts: Ms. Estes apparently originated the series as she wrote the first several books. This one serves as a kind of introduction to the books. In it you play a colourless fighter named Caric who is accompanied by a cowardly halfling on a quest to kill an evil wizard for his treasure.

As it is the intro, the book is fairly bland, never one of my favourites. It is mostly a series of random dungeon encounters asking you if you want to fight, flee or use trickery. Or turn left or right with no real info on the choice, making it feel random. It's annoying when you choose to go left and reach an ending just because your random choice was wrong.

No real semblance of a plot. But just for this reason, I'm sure it was popular as it has a great variety of D&D monsters.

The main encounter is with the water weird, pictured on the cover, which is more interesting than others. The artwork is very good.

This is the kind of general adventure that this type of series must have first. Disappointing, but the series gets much better.

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utfanatic's Thoughts: Oh how I loved Endless Quest books as a child. Following Choose Your Own Adventure, they were my second foray into gamebooks.

Dungeon of Dread is a classic, with decent characterization of both You (the fighter), as well as your reluctant Halfling companion, and the Wizard of the Dungeon of Dread. There is no dice rolling, number picking, or any mechanics to speak of, and you are thrown into the story.

Most choices simply center around going left or right, with many options leading you out of the dungeon, sans treasure. I didn't find any mistakes, and it seems rather easy to achieve the objective of the adventure skirting most foes. It's a simple matter of choosing the right path. I would have preferred more meaningful choices in the book, as well as a greater degree of interaction with the world and its inhabitants.

A very straightforward adventure with a great "flavor" to it. Reads more like a short story at times. Nice beginning to the series. Basic, unencumbered, and simplistic. Writing is slightly above average.

Rating 1-10: 6.5

More reviews by utfanatic

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