Red Fox, £4.99, ISBN 0-09-998430-X
Wow, it’s now eighteen gamebooks into the Lone Wolf series. It has been 27 years since your Kai monastery went up in smokes in Flight from the Dark, but your powers allow you to age for what seems like a year for every sixty years that pass by, so you still look the fresh side of sixteen, don’t worry. At any rate, you have recently slain the Deathlord of Ixia for having the temerity to want to turn everyone into undead and rule the world, and now, you come home to realize that your beloved homeland Sommerlund is being besieged by evil dragons summoned by the evil god Naar.
The title of this gamebook may give you the impression that you will be mounting daring assaults on huge scary dragons, but the campaign is far more mundane. You arrive at Telestria and commences a race against time to Sommerlund through the republic of Palmyrion and north via the Stornlands. If you have played previous gamebooks in this series, these places will be familiar territories. You are escorted by some random soldier mooks at various points in the campaign, and as expected, they turn out collectively to be a big liability rather than asset. You will learn that, in addition to the usual evil monsters that are always on your rear end, Lord Lutha of Eldenora wants you dead and he has many random mooks with Combat Skill 30 and above to do his bidding. Needless to say, you will be drawn into his conflicts with his neighbors soon enough. It is only late in the campaign when you make it back home. And even then, you’d be wondering, “Where are the dragons again?” But I suppose Dawn of the Mostly Lavas doesn’t have the same effect as Dawn of the Dragons.
Naar’s uncharacteristic understanding of your plight by allowing his dragon troops to wait until you return before sending them to attack aside, Dawn of the Dragons is a refreshingly solid and enjoyable campaign especially in the light of the disappointing campaigns that came before this one. This is a very linear campaign, but it is still a compelling one as you race against time to reach your Kai Monastery. You are, after all, the most powerful person in the place and your return makes your minions shed tears of joy (really), and all will be doomed unless you show up in time to swing your sword around.
There are some annoying sudden deaths that can arise due to bad number selection, but on the whole, this is a campaign of generally fair difficulty. There are atmosphere, momentum, good storytelling (aside from the dodgy cult-like reverence showed by your minions to you), and fun factor. All in all, this is a throwback to the better gamebooks in this series, and that’s a very good thing especially after the last few disappointing gamebooks.