Red Fox, £4.99, ISBN 0-09-967700-8
Surprisingly, it took thirteen gamebooks in the Lone Wolf series before someone comes up with this idea. Yes, in The Captives of Kaag, your best friend Banedon, the Guildmaster of the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star, finally gets kidnapped and you have to go rescue him.
Poor Banedon, whose debut appearance in this series saw him single-handedly demolishing some Giaks, was recently kidnapped by a bunch of Giaks under the supervision of some Nadziranim sorcerers. Maybe he’s getting old – he doesn’t have Lone Wolf’s amazing ability of aging what seems like one year for every hundred years that pass by, after all, heh. Apparently, the Nadziranim plan to “extract” secrets of the Brotherhood’s Left-handed magic from him so that they can incorporate it into their own “foul sorcery”. Their success will surely “herald the rebirth of the Darklands”.
Because this is a critical quest, naturally you, as Lone Wolf, have to infiltrate the fortress of Kaag alone to rescue Banedon. What, you think Lord Rimoah will send an army of powerful mages to help you? Even better, you have 48 hours to rescue Banedon. Don’t worry, though, tracking of time is never a part of the campaign. Joe Dever just wants to set the atmosphere as a critical and grim one.
This campaign is full of random spikes in difficulty, similar to the previous campaign in The Plague Lords of Ruel. If you have the right skills, you will pretty much breeze through the early parts of the campaign with minimum combat encounters, barring some unlucky circumstances when you get a really bad number on the Random Number Table and perish in a humiliating case of sudden death. Be careful, though: while the campaign is short and there is a very generous leeway given so that you can wander around Kaag using several possible routes and still reach Banedon in one piece, there are a few consecutive tough combat encounters to go through before you can complete the campaign successfully. The final combat encounter is ridiculously easy though, as you get a one-hit kill when you lose badly in that one! However, following that, you can die instantly from a bad pick in the Random Number Table.
And throughout it all, the campaign feels short and even predictable at places. It’s just not exciting where I am concerned. This campaign will be a decent introduction to those people new to the series, if they can overlook the random spikes in difficulty here and there in the campaign, but I suspect that veterans to the series may feel that the series is experiencing a little fizzling out.