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The Dragon's Ransom

Series: Endless Quest #16
Contained In: The Endless Quest Collectors Set #4 (Collection)
Translated Into: Den gyllene draken (Swedish)
La Rançon du dragon (French)
El tributo del dragón (Spanish)
O tributo do dragão (Portuguese)
Author: French, Laura
Illustrators: Caldwell, Clyde (cover)
Chaffee, Doug (interior)
Release Date: February, 1984
ISBN: 0880380772 / 9780880380775
Length:157 pages
Number of Endings:19
User Summary: The land of Oon is guarded by a gold dragon. The dragon, reasonably enough, expects payment for his service. You, a cleric named Loendal, are the latest adventurer chosen to find treasure for the dragon.
Demian's Thoughts: This is an excellent entry in the series. It captures the feel of a Dungeons & Dragons game about as well as any book of its type possibly could, featuring a party of adventurers with diverse skills encountering a series of varied challenges. The book's worst flaw is weak characterization, but that's a common problem in gamebooks.

More reviews by Demian

Guillermo's Thoughts: Unless the name is a pseudonym, Laura French does not seem to have published anything besides this book. Nonetheless, I loved it. Your character (a cleric) gets to command an entire party of D&D adventurers, and he must balance their strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve a successful outcome. The adventure, which combines wilderness and dungeon adventuring, rewards careful and thoughtful choices. While many Endless Quest books take themselves way too seriously as epic "save the world" quests, this one is written in a more light-hearted style reminiscent of classic D&D modules, making it quite a fun read. I especially enjoyed the introduction of the Pech, benign elemental beings who only occasionally appear in the D&D mythos.

There are several different ways to achieve a positive outcome, making the book highly replayable. Overall, despite its lack of a rules system, this is a very enjoyable fantasy gamebook. Recommended.

More reviews by Guillermo

Kveto's Thoughts: The second entry in a row with "dragon" in the title is a pretty good entry with a wicked cover. This book comes about as close to an actual D&D campaign as any book in the series. You play a teenage cleric who leads a party of adventurers: a fighter, a mage and a thief (compromising the 4 main human character classes) on a quest.

The premise is pretty cool. Your homeland pays a golden dragon to watch over its land, ensuring it won't be attacked by other nations. However, the dragon needs to be paid regularly, so your country must always send adventurers to bring back treasure, giving a noble reason to quest for gold. You lead your party to the lair of hobgoblins, basically to steal their gold. The book contains fun little details, like that the King sits on a plain throne with no display of wealth; all the kingdom's gold goes to pay the dragon.

Drawbacks include that the characters are mostly blunt stereotypes: the brave but dumb fighter who refers to himself in the third person, the cowardly wizard and the unscrupulous thief. Also upon rereading I notice that, despite being written by a woman, not a single female character appears.

Also, it missed a great final decision in one of the optimal endings. One character is being pursued by orcs, but he warned you not to try to save him. He looks to be in trouble, so the clear decision would be to do so, but the book makes you automatically make the right choice (then congratulates you for doing so!).

Minor quibbles aside, though, it's a good, fun action quest.

More reviews by Kveto

utfanatic's Thoughts: I approached this book with no expectations, having never read it in my youth. First impressions of the art were fine. Caldwell's cover is well done and Chaffee's interiors are passable. This book is written by Laura French, an author I had not read previously.

I hope not to read her again.

From the outset, it is clear this book is not up to snuff. From an abysmal backstory, to especially weak, stereotypical characterization, the writing of this book suffers from mediocrity at best. I believe this book was meant to be geared toward adolescents judging from the ages of the characters, but the rudimentary writing is better suited to 8 year olds.

You play a cleric's apprentice, tasked with retrieving hobgoblin treasure in order to pay ransom to a dragon who keeps the land safe. Fair enough. A nation places its safety in the hands of a 13 year old.... umm... ok.

You are given a nice choice initially: whether to go it alone, or build a team consisting of a wizard, thief, and fighter. If you choose the team, most of your choices center around how best to utilize the abilities of each and how best to command and control them. Not bad. The dialogue is god awful. From the functionally retarded fighter saying things such as "Drawg kill troll now," to the wizard eventually speaking in nothing but alliteration, I found myself often shaking my head at the poor dialogue. The author takes the most basic stereotypes of the weak, scared wizard, the burly, stupid fighter, and the devious, conniving rogue, and stays in this box.

Pacing is fine, the fights are handled well enough, and the choices given are actually decent and fairly meaningful. But... do you care? You are given hints along the way about "nagging feelings" you have which tend to direct you to an appropriate choice.

I found no satisfactory ending either. In the few successful endings I arrived at, you are not greeted as heroes upon your return with the treasure to your land, and you are not given the opportunity to actually pay the dragon his ransom. Disappointing.

All said, this book is only worth reading if you are a true gamebook novice. Otherwise, save your time unless you have a "nagging feeling" that you just have to read The Dragon's Ransom. One would do better beginning with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain or Dungeon of Dread.

The worst gamebook I have read of the ones I have reviewed up to this point.

Rating 1-10: 3.5

More reviews by utfanatic

Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes, auximenes, B0N0V0X, bigcobra, bookwormjeff, Crazyscotsman, Cyan, dArtagnan, dave2002a, Demian, EegahInc, exaquint, Ffghtermedic, Fullerton, fushek, Garrick Muttley, Gurvo, hoops4ever, horrorbusiness, karalynn, katzcollection, Khellendros, killagarilla, killagirilla, kinderstef, knginatl, le maudit, LordJR, MacbthPSW, mattender, mlvoss, momaw27, nelsondesign, NEMO, Nomad, ntar (2), Pseudo_Intellectual, Sir Olli, spragmatic, ThisIslandEarth, twar, utfanatic, Virtua Sinner, Von Scotty, wonderfly, Yalius, zat
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Users with Extra Copies: bookwormjeff
LordJR - Used copy, once a school library copy. First page and front cover torn a little, will trade
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Thanks to Jim Oaks for the image!