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Circus of Fear

Series: Endless Quest #10
Contained In: The Endless Quest Collectors Set #3 (Collection)
Translated Into: El circo del terror (Spanish)
Die Welt von Grayhawk (German)
Author: Estes, Rose
Illustrators: Parkinson, Keith (cover)
Nichols, Kevin (interior)
Release Date: July, 1983
ISBN: 0880380373 / 9780880380379
Length:157 pages
Number of Endings:26
User Summary: You are Laela, a young orphan girl. One night, you and your friend Petra free a Pegasus from an evil circus owner and learn of a conspiracy to rule Greyhawk. Soon you are captured and forced to work in the circus.
Demian's Thoughts: This is a fairly good book, and one of the relatively few gamebooks in which the reader plays a female role. However, just because it's fairly fun to play doesn't mean it's flawless. The plot and characters are about typical for a Rose Estes book, and the phrase "zippo, chango" is used, so don't expect a completely painless read here.

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Fireguard's Thoughts: I wonder what the thinking was that brought this book about. "Lots of kids dream about joining the circus, don't they? Let's make a book about that. But instead of lions and bears and elephants, it's a D&D circus with griffons and displacer beasts and owl bears." As Demian points out it's got one of the series' few female protagonists which is a nice touch, but I personally never saw much appeal in controlling an adolescent child in a world of high fantasy. Am I crazy for reading a book about settings like Dungeons & Dragons and Greyhawk to escape being an adolescent in reality for a while? That aside, the unique setting makes up for my disappointment with the choice of character age, and the writer must've hit the monster sourcebooks pretty hard to come up with all the encounters. It's worth a look on account of that though perhaps not detailed examination.

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Guillermo's Thoughts: This book is set in the Greyhawk D&D world, but none of the flavor of that setting can be felt here. The adventure could be set in a generic campaign world and the reader experience would be exactly the same. Much has been made as well about the fact that the protagonist is female, but this being children's fiction from the eighties, all it means is that she spends half the adventure expressing to other characters how vulnerable and helpless she is. The idea of setting a D&D adventure in a circus populated with fantastic creatures and characters may be a good one, but it's not very well executed here. The gameplay does not break any new ground in relation to other Endless Quest books (brave choices usually lead to good endings) and the story never goes anywhere even remotely interesting. While not as boring as Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons, this is one of the weakest Rose Estes books in the series, and you can definitely skip it without regret.

More reviews by Guillermo

Kveto's Thoughts: This is the rare book where you play a girl, Laela, an orphan who joins the circus. It involves you getting caught up in a plot by the circus owner, who wants to replace the king with dopplegangers.

It feels kind of strange to have a relatively modern circus in a D&D fantasy world. You'd think with so many monsters running around, the last thing the general public would want to do is see them in a circus.

This book does provide a good look through the menagerie of obscure D&D monsters: Kamadan, displacer beasts, crabmen, owlbears, hippogryphs, etc., which always felt like the author was respecting the fantasy world, although the crabmen are hired as roustabouts. I think the primary job of a roustabout is tying tent ropes. Why hire the creatures with pincers to tie ropes?

The artwork is serviceable. An okay book.

More reviews by Kveto

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