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Item - Duel of the Masters

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Series: Endless Quest — no. 21
Translated Into: Los Guerreros del templo de la luna (Spanish)
Author: Martindale, Chris
Illustrators: Caldwell, Clyde (cover)
Parkinson, Keith (interior)
Date: September, 1984
ISBN: 088038154X / 9780880381543
Length: 157 pages
Number of Endings: 18
User Summary: You are Rand, a young fighting monk. You are asked to help prevent a war between two kingdoms in order to put your abilities to use outside the temple and gain the experience you need to act as a master.
Demian's Thoughts:

This book could have been a lot better, but due to rather poor writing and some disjointed connections between sections, it's fairly weak and uninvolving.

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Guillermo's Thoughts:

This is the only Endless Quest book where you play a monk. Fortunately, the book is a good one. The martial arts elements are very well integrated with standard D&D encounters, and the book as a whole is action-packed, fast-paced and exciting. There is a wide variety of possible adventures to have, and many ways to complete the adventure successfully, meaning that replay value is quite high. I must disagree with other reviewers on this one; this is actually one of the best Endless Quest books out there and I highly recommend it (even if you are not that much into systemless gamebooks).

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Kveto's Thoughts:

This was one of my favs as a child. You play Rand, a shao-lin type monk asked to help defeat an evil monk named the Kashkar in a European-style kingdom. It still holds up well. This was Endless Quest's first foray into the Oriental Adventures world of D&D.

Your temple is visited by Kalderin, a mustachioed western knight, whose western kingdom has fallen prey to the Kashkar's monks. His western knights cannot defeat the martial artists. The opening scene of the book has Rand save Kalderin from a thrown knife by catching it in the air. While cliched now, at that time I had never heard of such a feat.

There are two main paths you can take: one to visit an old wizard, and the other a stealthy entrance to Kalderin's kingdom. Both are fun. The wizard path has you fighting mostly monsters while the kingdom one has you sneaking round a castle.

As a youngster, this satisfied the level of action with descriptive martial arts moves, flying kicks, arm throws and so on. The supporting cast is well-rounded. Kalderin is boisterous but reliable and you even find a love interest, a blonde monk girl named Shira.

The villains are great. The Kashkar is perhaps the best villain in the series, a monk dressed in black with a black mask. His assistant is a foxy wizardess named Larina.

The artwork is fantastic, both inside and out. The cover is surprisingly racy, with Larina's breasts nearly bare, as she calls on a horde of ghouls, which you are dispatching with a side kick while sporting a prominent erection.

As an adult, the only criticism is that eastern martial arts are repeatedly shown to be superior to Western style knights in a fight. In truth, I'm sure armoured European-style knights would destroy a bunch of unarmoured monks.

A great book.

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Nomad's Thoughts:

I went into this book not expecting much, and while it didn't exactly raise my standards on gamebooks, it didn't manage to make me regret its purchase either. While Duel of the Masters doesn't really stand out as anything spectacular within the Endless Quest series, it does manage to keep a certain charm about it that makes it worth checking out. While the writing is below par for this series, I found the main character likeable enough and enjoyed seeing the use of certain monk attributes and abilities. That alone was enough to make a former Dungeons & Dragons player like me satisfied. Don't go out of your way to track this book down, but if you manage to find it, it's worth reading through at least once.

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