Red Fox, £4.99, ISBN 0-09-951320-X
The Prisoners of Time is the eleventh gamebook in the Lone Wolf series and we are fast approaching the final showdown between you, Lone Wolf, and Darklord Gnaag. However, things didn’t go as planned in your recent excursion, and when this campaign opens, you have plunged through a Shadow Gate into Daziarn, the Shadow Plane.
So here you are, in a decidedly foreign and definitely hostile alien world, having to locate not only the last two Lorestones but also to find a way back to your world. Fortunately, there are also allies to be found in the Shadow Plane. Along the way, you will learn that your struggles against Darklord Gnaag isn’t just about avenging your fallen comrades and defending your homeland – how you will fare will also determine the outcome of the battle between Good and Evil in the universe. Of course, there’s no pressure on you to succeed, oh no.
This gamebook is infamous for the confrontation with the Chaos-master, which is near impossible to win if you have with you the Sommerswerd. The Chaos-master makes Zakhan Kimah look like a wimp, so I strongly advise you to ditch the Sommerswerd someplace safe before you get into The Cauldron of Fear and leave that sword there until you have finished this campaign. Even then, the Chaos-master is still no pushover. Worse, shortly after the confrontation with the Chaos-master, you will still have another really tough combat encounter to go through.
The very frustrating difficulty level of this gamebook is something most players take away with after staggering away from it. This is understandable, but this gamebook is actually a thing of beauty, balancing issues aside. The depiction of Daziarn is impressive, from the chillingly perfect Shining City of Yanis, ruled by its shrunken and badly deformed ruler, to the desolate city of Haagadar. The campaign is linear, but that’s offset by the sheer number of very interesting and even breathtaking scenarios you will find yourself in. Also, you will learn a bit more about Lone Wolf’s past, which is always nice.
The Prisoners of Time has both serious balance issues and very imaginative storytelling elements. This one could have easily become one of the best gamebook in the series, if not the best, were not for those balance issues. All things considered, a four-oogie grade is a pretty fair one for this gamebook.