Fabled Lands Publishing, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-478377108
Fantasy, 2012 (Reissue)
Lords of the Rising Sun is the sixth gamebook in the Fabled Land series. Because the entire series is conceived as an open world sandbox kind of continuous campaign, however, while it is fine to start with this one, there are options that would send you to other gamebooks in this series. You can choose other options if you don’t have the gamebook in question, but if you are really up for it, clear a weekend and see how much havoc you can cause.
If you are starting with this gamebook, you can create your own character or choose from some generated characters, but either way, you come to consciousness in the first entry. Apparently you were shipwrecked and it was only by luck that the crew of a passing ship fished you out of the water. They thought you were dead, after all! From there onwards, you can become a seafaring hero, a more landlocked mercenary, or more. You are going to be in the kingdom of Akatsurai, which is obviously a fantasy setting inspired by feudal Japan and Japanese folklore, so let’s put those samurai swords to work. Banzai!
As with any gamebook that is patterned after the open sandbox model, the storytelling element here is weak compared to a more conventional gamebook. Here, however, the whole thing feels especially flimsy, with folklore elements tossed in without much effort made to make these elements come more alive. Look, a dragon! Okay, but with no good reason why the dragon is attacking, it’s hard to remember the encounter because it’s just another one of the many fragmented encounters in this campaign.
There are also some immersion-breaking encounters, too, such as when a paladin wanders around the place. What is a paladin, typically associated with setting modeled after feudal Europe, doing here? It’s all so disconcerting.It’s probably a good thing that Lords of the Rising Sun is part of a series, and therefore a must have if you are a collector or you want to explore as much of this series as possible. It’s a pretty dry and half-baked gamebook on its own.