by Joe Dever, fantasy (1997)
Red Fox, £3.99, ISBN 0-09-964191-7
Well, it has to happen. Despite having sixth sense to the yazoo, being able to detect an incoming killer fly monster from a distance of a thousand miles, and generally being more powerful than anyone else on Magnamund, Lone Wolf finally gets kidnapped and has to be rescued. Worse, he was apparently taken offguard when it happened. Oh, there's nothing to be ashamed of. It happened to Banedon too!
Trail Of The Wolf takes off where Rune War left off. You played a major role in destroying the evil Lord Vandyan's Vorka army, but in the end, Lord Vandyan managed to let a foul demon called Zorkaan the Soultaker into this world. You thought you destroyed Zorkaan, but now you know this is not the case. In the short time he is in this world, Zorkaan has managed to fall under the control of Xaol the Necromancer. Naar has apparently telegraphed the rites to bind Zorkaan to Xaol and now Xaol has ordered Zorkaan to assassinate Lone Wolf. Only Zorkaan clearly isn't good at following orders because he instead captures Lone Wolf and brings him to Xaol in the stronghold of Gazad Helkona.
Now Lord Rimoah shows up, that useless bag of bones, to tell you that you have to go alone to save Lone Wolf. Apparently he and his equally useless Elder Magi will, er, do something to disrupt Naar's communication with Xaol, not that they succeed as you will discover later in the campaign. Oh, why can't there be a campaign where you are allowed to violently butcher these useless wretches? Banedon is here, but despite claiming that he owes Lone Wolf his life, he will not be by your side shooting lasers of doom at your enemies, oh no. He'll be the designated cab driver, using his flying ship to take you to Gazad Helkona. To add insult to the injury, he will only come to bring you back home if Lone Wolf telepathically tells him to. Apparently he won't bother to save you if you can't rescue Lone Wolf.
Useless so-called allies aside, this campaign is actually pretty engaging. Once you rescue Lone Wolf, he is actually useful, heh. Throughout it all, there are challenging opponents and an illusion of gripping non-linearity. The pace is swift and the writing is for once decent. This is also the first campaign where your choice of Kai weapon can actually make a very big difference between life and death. Think about what Xaol is and the kind of monsters he will have by his side. Read carefully the bonuses conferred by the various Kai weapons available to you. Then cheat by picking your number from the Random Number Table with one eye open, heh. There are also some great illustrations by Brian Williams here, but the last one, of a tearful Lord Rimoah trying to hug you, is truly terrifying.
Trail Of The Wolf may be a contrived campaign with a silly set-up, but the actual campaign is fun once things are heating. Don't mind the plot - it's time to kill some more!
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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