Red Fox, £3.99, ISBN 0-09-964221-2
At last, the end is near! The Hunger of Sejanoz is the final gamebook in the Lone Wolf series, as even the mightiest Kai Grand Master is no match for the powers that be at Red Fox who ruthlessly pulled the plug on this series. It’s about time too, as following this series decay from its lofty grand heights in its heyday is like watching a beloved relative waste away in the intensive care unit.
And how sad that this gamebook is such a horrible anticlimactic end to the series. You can argue that the gamebook being cut short by 50 entries may be a contributing factor to this sad state, but the problem is arguably more fundamental than that: this campaign is a very linear escort mission that is as dull as can be. After Vampirium, you have the villain Autarch Sejanoz hopping mad, and he now launches an assault on the neighboring kingdom of Xo-lin. You are charged to escort the Emperor’s entourage from the besieged capital of Pensei to the border city of Tazhan. Along the way, you will encounter epic threats like mad babysitters, little adders, and ghosts that must be simply terrifying after encounters with cakewalks like Zakhan Kimah and the Chaos-master. Try to keep awake, darling!
Xo-lin seems like an exotic Chinese or Mongolian setting, but it never really comes alive. Instead, it becomes yet another generic fantasy setting with soldiers and monsters due to the lack of descriptive details in the campaign. The challenge level is really low – there is never any suspense here as your character comes off as way too powerful with sixth sense to the wazoo. And most damningly, the final confrontation with the big bad is… sad. You are practically given the weapon to slay him in one blow, so it’s not like you actually have to take him down in an epic fight to the death. One lucky pick of the number in the Random Number Table and that’s it, game over, you’ve won.
Still, it’s a relief to see the plug finally pulled on this series. The Hunger of Sejanoz is a devastatingly disappointing way to end a series, but then again, the series has been pretty much dead after the first twelve gamebooks in this series. It has been really fun when the going was good, but this series has also long overstayed its welcome. Thanks for the good times, Joe Dever, but it’s now time to go separate ways.