Knight Books, £3.99, ISBN 0-340-49168-X
The Walls of Spyte is the penultimate conclusion to the fantastic Blood Sword series and it’s… well, it’s not as climactic as you may expect, but it’s still a fabulous conclusion to one of the best gamebook series out there.
After having obtained the Blood Sword from the very bowels of Hell itself, you are now ready to confront the True Magi’s minions in the very heart of Spyte, the city that was the location of the True Magi’s sinister apotheosis. Spyte is now in ruins, surrounded by a deep chasm of boiling lava.
You started the series being mere upstarts venturing into the land of Krarth seeking adventure and treasure, and now, you have come to a full circle as you return to Krarth, a mere seven hours before the end of the world, to prevent the resurrection of the True Magi. If you fail, the balance of Good and Evil tips severely in favor of Evil, and therefore, when midnight strikes and the Day of Judgement arrives, Evil will reign and the world will become hell on earth as we know it. If you want to have Good triumph and allow eternal Paradise to come about, well, you know what to do. Off with the villains’ heads! But first, you will have to find a way to get to Spyte. Will you take this bridge…?
The Walls of Spyte has its share of high difficulties, which is to be expected considering the fact that this book is the end of the series. If you are truly unlucky and you are unable to locate some items, you may even end up having to battle the five True Magi, which is… well, let me say that it’s one fun way to die if you are severely drained of Endurance Points by that stage. However, there are ways to escape that battle, but you will need a mix of luck and intuition to do that. For the most part, Spyte is one big dungeon full of perils and pitfalls as each True Magus has a charming trap for you to get over. Blue Moon is up to his nasty tricks involving illusions and fear, Red Death loves his carnage and destruction, Gift Star offers both luck and misfortune at one go, Plague Star inflicts undeath and disease, and White Light will make you wish you have a Sage in your party to overcome his puzzles and cryptic logic.
If there are flaws in this thrilling campaign, it’s the lack of a dramatic climactic battle. You can avoid personally battling the True Magi, so that doesn’t count as one. On the whole, you will be confronting lesser minions. There is one very interesting female villain here, but she’s dispatched quickly without you having to lift a finger, which is a pity indeed. Also, there are some logistics problem. You will encounter slews of acolytes before and after you have invaded the heart of Spyte, but these acolytes are conspicuously missing when you are in the labyrinthine middle sections of Spyte. I guess we could say that the minions of the True Magi know a short cut, but it’s unlikely that they aren’t patrolling all areas looking to slay you.
Still, from an unlikely trip back in time to help an arrogant but ultimately tragic enemy of the True Magi to the interesting twists and dangers found in Spyte (I love the monster Gift Star has in store for unwary adventurers), The Walls of Spyte offers a pretty good way to end a fabulous series. Seriously, if you love gamebooks and you haven’t read this series, you are really missing out on plenty.