Knight Books, £3.99, ISBN 0-340-40155-9
The Kingdom of Wyrd is the second gamebook in the Blood Sword series. Like most gamebooks, it can stand alone, but since this is part of a series with an ongoing story line, it is best played after The Battlepits of Krarth.
Triumphant after your sojourn in the Battlepits of Krarth, you decide to take a break at the opening of this campaign by hanging out with a bunch of carnival folks as you decide where you will go next. However, in a gripping build-up that is truly one to remember, you soon discover that not everything is what it seems. A bloody attack from werewolves commences on you and your fellow travelers. When you have defeated your opponents, you discover the minstrel fatally wounded by the monsters. He passes you the scabbard of a legendary sword known as the Blood Sword.
Yes, your quest has only just begun. The Blood Sword is the only weapon capable of destroying the five True Magi. The True Magi were actually five Magi, rulers of Krarth, who were once mortals until they pulled off a powerful magical rite that shattered the city of Spyte and caused the Magi to become demi-deities existing as stars. By becoming celestial bodies, the Magi are privy to the secrets of divinity. Now, they plan to use the secrets to return to Legend and finish off the rite that will allow them to become true deities.
The Blood Sword has been splintered over the ages into three parts. You have the scabbard, so you now need the hilt and the blade. In this campaign, your task is to retrieve the hilt. It won’t be easy. The hilt is held by the Warlock-King of the island of Wyrd. A powerful former emissary of the True Magi and apparently an immortal, he rarely leaves his Palace of Eternal Dusk but he can read the dreams of his subjects and slay them if he chooses to with a single thought. As a result, he can only be killed by an outsider, someone whose dreams he can’t touch. Conveniently enough, that will be you. But to gain the hilt of the Blood Sword, you have to first get to Wyrd, and with the minions of the True Magi on your trail, this is going to be fun…
The Kingdom of Wyrd is great fun from start to finish. The campaign is quite linear, but there are enough detours and side quests to liven things up. For example, there are a few ways to get to Wyrd, and most of them are pretty memorable indeed. The atmosphere is fantastic. From the snow-capped landscape to the fear of constantly being stalked by minions of the True Magi, this campaign is very gripping, with great evocations of the senses of claustrophobia and urgency at appropriate moments. Once you get to Wyrd, the pace slows down a little for a while to allow you to catch a breath, in a fascinating scene involving a young seer and her cryptic message to you. But then the pace quickens again, right down to a fabulous showdown with the Warlock-King in a stage that is certainly memorable. And, in a nice change of pace from the usual kill-everything-you-see pattern typically found in gamebooks, you will get the better ending and more experience points if you help the villain find release from his own existence instead of slaying him outright. I’d let you figure out how to do that yourself, heh.
The Kingdom of Wyrd introduces the start of the Blood Sword arc, but more significantly, it picks up from where the last gamebook left off and turns the series into a spectacular quest to save the world.