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Item - Mystery of the Ancients

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Series: Endless Quest — no. 28
Translated Into: El misterio de los antiguos (Spanish)
O mistério dos antigos (Portuguese)
Author: Simon, Morris
Illustrators: Parkinson, Keith (cover)
Chaffee, Doug (interior)
Date: May, 1985
ISBN: 0880382171 / 9780880382175
Length: 157 pages
Number of Endings: 12
User Summary: Your sister is badly injured in an explosion and you must find a way to heal her... Unfortunately, good healing is hard to find in your post-apocalyptic world.
Demian's Thoughts:

This, the second Gamma World adventure in the series, is a fairly good book; it does a nice job of portraying various details of its interesting setting. It's not as good as Light on Quests Mountain, and it took me a while to get into, but ultimately it's a pretty good adventure.

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knifebat's Thoughts:

This is a fascinating book one that has been very memorable over the years for me. At first I wasn't too impressed with it, because I kept wanting this to be a Conan type story. After all the main character on the cover looks like a barbarian, but instead of being a charismatic king of all warriors, he is more like a caring brother from a humble village that is clueless to the technologies of the ancient world.

You encounter a Han Solo type character who has a robot sidekick, and they were pretty cool. It seems to me that this story was influenced by science fiction classics such as Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Most of these kinds of books can be a bit too kiddy but this one seemed written for the older teen. I remember in particular some swamp mutant monster that had a ton of humanoid arms on it, dragging my brother down into the murky swamp until it became quiet. This book feels more mature than Lights on Quests Mountain which is another one set in a similar type setting, except that one has a more fantasy type story.

There were some frustrating deaths, and reading this as a kid I found it to be a bit difficult, and harder to progress than Return to Brookmere.

I do like the Gamma World post apocalyptic future type setting. Some people are living in tribes trying to start over, while others scavenge through the ruins for lost technologies, and let's not forget the mutants from the radiation. I have to say all in all, this book left quite a memorable impression on me.

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Kveto's Thoughts:

This is the second book of the series set in the Gamma World setting, a futuristic post-apocalyptic Earth in which humanity was reduced to a primitive level, following Light on Quests Mountain. In this case, the story takes place in a village in what was the former state of Louisiana. It was an underutilized setting for these books as it provides a needed break from the fantasy settings. I read this book as a kid but could remember little about it, so rereading was a nice fresh experience as the book is a decent adventure.

You play Ard, a young warrior whose twin sister gets injured (in a graphic way with a metal pin in her neck) and you must quest to find a means to save her life. It does well with worldbuilding (I'm less familiar with Gamma World so I'm not sure how close it sticks to the role-playing game) introducing a mix of mutant creatures and left over robotics from the "ancients". Most interesting, a number of societies have developed, such as collectors, who use ancient technology and the New Dawn, who are fanatical Luddites who try to destroy the technology, blaming it for destroying the past civilizations. Even zoopremisists, mutant animals who try to take over from humans.

Overall a good read.

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Nomad's Thoughts:

Originally, I was hesitant to read this book. If asked why I honestly couldn't give you a good answer to the question. I won the book as part of a lot of Endless Quest books on eBay, and for whatever reason, I kept putting off reading it in lieu of other books that came in the bundle. I'll be the first to admit that was completely my mistake. Mystery of the Ancients has fast gone on to become a favorite of mine amidst a series of books I've loved since I was a wee little one. In more recent years, I've grown increasingly fascinated by books focusing on a post-apocalyptic environment and setting, and so I find myself enjoying the Gamma World entries in this series, Mystery of the Ancients being my favorite hands down.

The books gives you a centralized goal, saving your sister's life after she nearly dies, having set off a device left behind by the ancients. This is the kind of goal that keeps the reader motivated -- or at least that was the case for me when I read this entry. Couple this with the interesting view of a possible future world, a world that includes mutated plants and animals, bizarre cults based around machines left behind from a different time, and several interesting plot twists and choices, and I find this to be a satisfying read that left me with very little in the way of complaints.

On a side note, I think another reason I enjoy this book so much, aside from the fact that it really is a solid little read, is that it reminds me of one of my favorite books of all time. Daybreak - 2250 A. D. (originally titled Star Man's Son). A story written by the great Andre Norton and one I can't recommend enough.

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