Bantam, $3.50, ISBN 0-553-26725-6
Beyond the Great Wall is an interesting adventure that takes you right into the heart of the archaeological craze in China in the midst of the political turmoils in Russia and China during 1901. While the history isn’t that deep, there is enough to create an exciting atmosphere to run amok in.
You are a young lady who fancies yourself a bit of an archeologist and a bit of an adventurer. When Baron von Frothingham gathers all the mercenaries he can find for a mission to locate either the mysterious Cave of a Thousand Buddhas and all its priceless antiquities located somewhere west of the Great Wall of China or Dr Pinckney, his agent who went AWOL while seeking the Cave on the Baron’s behalf. Amusingly, you are the only teenager among the mercenaries who are seeking the Baron’s reward money. Needless to say, your mission is to trek into the forbidding deserts and plains across Asia to seek your quarry. How you are going to do that is the big question here.
There are not many options here. The whole adventure actually comprises four or so big story lines, with various divergent paths leading to failures along the way. Therefore, the replay value is not that high where this one is concerned. Fortunately, the stories are strong enough to keep things interesting. The failures can be violent for a Choose Your Own Adventure book – at one part, you break your neck and die – but the whole campaign is fraught with dangers anyway. The desert of Taklamakan is hostile to all living things, there are spies and traitors abound, and more all come together to create a campaign that has some genuine sense of danger and suspense. However, the “good” and “bad” choices are pretty clear cut here. If you opt to do bad things, don’t be surprised to find bad things happening back to you!
Beyond the Great Wall is a solid fun adventure for the history buff gamebook enthusiast.