Book 9 felt very long. So much so that I was quite happy to finally get to the end of it, but that’s not to say I didn’t like it. Up until I encountered the Snow Witch’s spirit, I was really enjoying the story, but then when the third act kicked in, I was starting to feel a little jaded. I was surprised to find that every time I expected the adventure would draw to a conclusion, it just kept going and going. It felt like the 400 pages were stretched out over a long story arc as opposed to being used to provide choices and different routes, my map (excuse the coffee stain!) shows very little in the way of unexplored routes and even some of those were not actually given as options to pursue in the text.
Some pretty memorable encounters were had though, I particularly liked the pursuit of the fuzzy little Yeti at the start and would have liked to see a whole book in an environment like that, wilderness survival etc. I also liked the fact that the encounter with the dragon felt quite epic, more of an encounter than dragons I’ve faced so far anyway. I think that may have been helped a little by the ferocious looking illustration, but I’ll come back to the art soon.
One thing I said I would come back to in the first part was using the warhammer against the Crystal Golem thing. You may remember that I’d freed a genie a little earlier and he would give me the ability to sneak past one adversary… well if I had said I didn’t have the warhammer, then I would have been asked if I had the promise of help from the genie and could have avoided the fight altogether! I would have liked to have been given that option from the start and then I wouldn’t have had to waste my Stamina potion recovering from the battle with the sparkly one. A pretty big deal as I was struggling for Stamina at the end of the book, another book here with a lot of 10+ Skill enemies causing me real problems, especially after the Brain Slayer got hold of me. The Birdman was particularly irksome, after the bad-ass dragon he certainly didn’t look like an enemy that should have a Skill of 12!
As far as the end goes, this is the first book I haven’t actually reached an end scenario in. The fact I had already died once at the hands of the Snow Witch and I was getting a bit sick of Redswift and Stubbs meant that I was happy to draw things to a close there. Plus it seemed like a reasonable point to end anyway, I’d rid the Icefinger Mountains of the Snow Witch, but in death she still managed her revenge. Had I continued, we’d have had a short trip to find a Shaman who would have helped cure me. With the dragon eggs I carried, I think I had the items I needed to survive too, so I wasn’t that far off the ending anyway.
As for the illustrations, provided by Gary Ward & Edward Crosby, the unique style really worked I thought, the stark, heavy lines seemingly match the environment. A couple of encounters I missed had some particularly notable images. The Night Stalker is probably the most horrible thing I’ve seen in the books so far…
…and the Banshee frankly looks like it belongs on the cover of an Iron Maiden album. Ooo… Download soon…. \m/