Wizard Books, £5.99, ISBN 1-84046-435-6
Fantasy, 2003 (Reissue)
The Seven Serpents is the third gamebook in Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! series, and it is strongly suggested that you start this epic campaign from the first gamebook instead of plunging ahead into this gamebook without ado. Unlike other sequentially related gamebooks where your character develops and grows stronger from one gamebook to another, here you actually accumulate items and clues from a previous gamebook that will be useful in future gamebooks.
Having said that, The Seven Serpents is the perfect definition of a filler gamebook. Nothing you do here bears actual relevance to the events in the next gamebook – depending on the number of serpents you have defeated at the end of the day, you only get your stats raised or lowered.
The plot isn’t much either. You are now in the Baklands, on your way to the Archmage of Mampang’s hideout. Well, the Archmage’s trusted servants, the seven serpents, have learned of your existence and right now they are headed straight home to warn the Archmage… only they naturally have to take time to laze around the Baklands waiting for you to kick their reptilian behinds. We have the Serpents of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air, as well as the Sun Serpent, Moon Serpent, and Serpent of Time. Yes, the moon, the sun, and time are now considered elements as well. Don’t ask – maybe it’s a Mampang thing.
Basically, you will wander randomly through a series of loosely related to completely unrelated encounters in a dull and nondescript terrain. You can defeat all seven serpents, but you will need to discover the exact route through several runs of this campaign. Like any typical Fighting Fantasy campaign, this is one where you will be disadvantaged from the start, forced to wander around without a clue while the author cackles gleefully as he sees you trying to figure out the one true path through all that randomness in the campaign. On the bright side, you can actually complete the campaign without slaying even one serpent, although this means you will be severely weakened at the start of the next gamebook. Take it from me, though – even during my first and completely random run of this campaign, I manage to nab four serpents, so this campaign is not that hard.
What could be hard, though, heh, is the fiendish puzzle you will need to solve in order to survive your encounter with the Serpent of Time. The solution is a bit of a cheat, as the author expects you to be familiar with a language that is not related in any way to the setting of Titan, but I have to admit – it’s a very good puzzle.
All things considered, The Seven Serpents is all about random wandering and the occasional puzzle solving. Not the most exciting gamebook around, in other words.