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Item - The Caverns of Mornas

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(book club edition)
Series: Escape from the Kingdom of Frome — no. 3
Translated Into: Las cavernas de Mornas (Spanish)
Author: Brightfield, Richard
Illustrators: Huerta, Catherine (cover)
Perry, David (interior)
Date: February, 1987
ISBN: 0553262009 / 9780553262001
Length: 118 pages
Number of Endings: 1
User Summary: You have made it through the forests of Frome and now must journey through the six levels of the Caverns of Mornas, find the mysterious master trader, and convince him or her to show you the way which leads out of the Caverns toward home. Things are further complicated when you find out the tyrant's soldiers are exploring the caverns in search of you.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

(review based on the Spanish translation)

This is another good book in the series. There are six dungeon levels to explore, each with a peculiar type of inhabitant. Few of the fantasy creatures are really original. A group of intelligent spirits which form some sort of powerful hive-mind seem to be the only original idea the author had in this respect. However, the dungeon is quite fun to explore and requires a lot of patience, since in most cases you'll have to explore hard-to-reach locations at least twice in order to obtain a necessary item. There are five items to find, so the quest takes quite a while to complete.

The writing is good and the adventure entertaining, though I found the level of detail (especially in flavour and characterization) less consistent than was the case in the previous book. This is nonetheless a very enjoyable adventure and one of the high points of the series.

More reviews by Guillermo

Shadeheart's Thoughts:

[Rating: 2/10]
[Recommended? NO]

Based on my pre-existing familiarity with the "Escape From Tenopia" series, and as such the preconceived understandings I had going into those titles as an equivalent sort of spin-off to the popular yet awful"Choose Your Own Adventure" gamebooks, my expectations for the more fantasy-rooted "Escape from the Kingdom of Frome" series were kept well in check before taking on the series' follow-up title, "The Caverns of Mornas". And while the formulaic tendencies and the flaws of its predecessors were definitely the dominant takeaway I had from this sparingly-detailed, underwhelmingly-written adventure, I was nevertheless at least a little relieved to discover how much more comfortable this book was with the format it had than its science fiction counterpart in Tenopia. Sure, the characters are completely threadbare (and are introduced without an ounce of considerable memorability), and yes, there are significant repetitions of what I would call an assault of information for the reader to figure out what to do with (even though it all, in general, doesn't actually mean anything within the reading experience or path-choosing). There's nothing conclusive or climactic with the puzzles - nothing there to put all this information to good use - just as there is little sense of purpose within the escape sequence. And above all else, there's the return of the infinitely striking feature where the reader is unable to lose - and one must circle around until getting it right - in one long "can you find a way out" structural cycling exercise. But this book (and the series) seems a little more comfortable in its own skin than the other "Escape" stories, and as such this ends up reading just a little more immersively (though due to its many shortcomings, unnecessary difficulty for one's memory and generally short length, this doesn't save the book all that much in the end).

At the end of the day I found this book dissatisfactory and not worthy of recommending in the end; while the book (and series) held legitimate storytelling potential it was wasted due to the stylistic, structural and executive shortcoming of its design and featureless lack of intrinsic atmosphere. This is little more than a shallowly escapist enterprise to encounter - and you're not missing out if you pass on (or, shall I say, escape from) this largely forgettable escape sequence. ^^

(Mysteriously disappears into the shadows.)

More reviews by Shadeheart

stonemason's Thoughts:

This is a very good fantasy adventure. It's slightly more game-like than the Escape from Tenopia books, because you have to keep track of items (called "manks" by the caverns' inhabitants) that you have found or traded for, as well as remember where you have been. You also have a fairly good sense of where you have to go; there isn't very much aimless wandering, so there isn't much opportunity for frustration. It's a fun book, even though there's no way to lose. There are also some rather unique creatures in here; the Skaters and Clay People are particularly interesting.

A hint: I was able to get through this book without taking notes, but I think that's because I have a photographic memory. If you're not good at remembering things, be sure to jot down on a piece of paper where you've been and what you've found.

More reviews by stonemason

Special Thanks:Thanks to Mason Green and Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary.
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