Red Fox, £3.99, ISBN 0-09-964201-8
It takes twenty-six gamebooks before Joe Dever realizes that he has never set a campaign in the dwarven kingdom of Bor, so he proceeds to create The Fall of Blood Mountain, which shows plenty of overt, er, influences of JRR Tolkien.
Imagine, if you will, a foul dragon named Shom’zaa, which had been imprisoned by the Elder Magi for helping Agarash the Damned back in the old days. Then we have Prince Leomin, who is greedy and foolish enough to order his miners to dig into the forbidden area for Korlinium, in the process releasing Shom’zaa from its granite prison and letting it marshal an army of fiends. Now the Throne of Andarin is in danger, and with it, the entire realm of Bor. You see, the Throne is magical – a gem created by Ishir rests on it, emanating divine radiance that allows life to thrive in Bor’s subterranean caverns. Like every other useful leaders in Magnamund, King Ryvin immediately dials the Elder Magi hotline, and the useless old buggers in turn call the Kai hotline. You are pretty much guilt-tripped into heading over to Bor and saving those bearded midgets from Shom’zaa.
This campaign is definitely on the average side, when the most interesting things about it are the similarities to the dwarves digging in the Moria Caves and accidentally releasing the Balrog. There is a tomb of a Drodarin Prince that reminds me of the tomb of Balin. The rest of the campaign is so dreadfully plain and generic, its structure and fundamental elements too reminiscent of previous campaigns, only with midgets this time around. Joe Dever could have shaken things up and make things more interesting, but instead he’s just replaying a shtick that is starting to become stale about ten gamebooks ago.
Perhaps under other circumstances The Fall of Blood Mountain would be an average entry into this series, but as one at the tail end of that long-running series, this one is not holding up well. It’s just… played out.