by JH Brennan, fantasy (1985)
Armada Books, £3.50, ISBN 0-440-94540-2
Once again, Merlin summons you back in time into the body of a handsome adventurer, Pip. It seems like King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, has gone missing. Some upstarts take this opportunity to stage a rebellion in the land. All this seems like some mundane matter unworthy of your time - after all, a studly adventurer like you had slain evil wizards and dragons in the past, so stomping peasants is really beneath you - until you realize that some naughty people from the Fairy Kingdom are behind the whole thing.
Kingdom Of Horror is structurally similar to previous gamebooks in the Grailquest series, which means you will be wandering around a lot due to the extremely random nature of the campaign. Seriously, some of the items you will need to make your life easier can only be obtained by lucky rolls of the die, with the chances of suffering painfully due to bad rolls always present. While this would normally mean plenty of frustrations, the campaign is quirky and memorable enough to make the random nature of the campaign tolerable and even entertaining.
Indeed, this is easily one of the most cohesive campaigns in this series. The campaign is actually well structured without relying too heavily on comedy to carry the whole thing to the finish line. The comedy is still there, of course, but this campaign has some substance to complement the comedy, which is good.
The climax is rather... well, anticlimatic, though, and the villain isn't epic enough to warrant all that hard work trying to beat the dice to get to him. Still, given the random nature of this campaign, maybe that is to be expected in a twisted kind of sense.
Although frustrating to play at many moments, Kingdoms Of Horror is a good entry into the series. Then again, with all the reset buttons available in this campaign, there is still plenty of fun to be savored from the randomness.
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