The Seven Serpents was a book I played through in a single sitting and totally loved the experience. As ever, there is the odd quibble here and there, but overall I had a great time with this book, the wild environments were exciting to explore and the chase of the serpents was a very satisfying goal. Having to pursue their weaknesses as well as the serpents themselves was a particularly nice extra layer of difficulty and an additional option of how to take the serpents down when you did find them. But here seems like a good place to bring about a criticism, and that is towards the illustrations. The wonderful hyper-fine-detail of John Blanches work seems to be underrepresented here, with the likes of the ruins being the few occasions where it features, seemingly with a focus on heavier lines, almost akin to what we saw in Caverns of the Snow Witch. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a personal preference. But mainly my complaint is that the iconic serpents that the book is centered around are mostly ignored. Only the fire serpent is actually shown, I’d have loved to see what a moon serpent or a time serpent looks like – opportunity missed!
Something I missed was this opportunity to go shopping, apparently somewhere is a salesman who has shelves full of his wares for you to browse. I loved the idea of this illustration, when you get to buy some supplies in Fighting Fantasy books it’s always an exciting moment, to get to see the things on offer is not something you get often.
One interesting encounter I had was with Fenestra, interesting as I never did really establish what was going on with the serpent appearing in her orb. Well, a reader in the comments section pointed me in the right direction and had I discussed magic with her she would have told me a bit more about herself. She too had an issue with the serpents, the water serpent especially as her father was killed by the beast. I was also filled in as to why the image of a serpent was in her orb, ‘I have here the Sun Serpent, lured down from the skies with a rain spell. I offered it shelter – for the Sun Serpent cannot tolerate water – and magicked it into my orb. Eventually, the Water Serpent will come looking for its companion, and when that happens I will be ready’.
So that’s what was going on. I suppose that you cannot actually face the Sun Serpent yourself? So if that is the case, surely this book is The Six Serpents and only two escaped me and made it to Mampang? That’s two more than I’d have liked anyway, there was much of the book I didn’t explore.
Mostly I took left turns, I have no idea why, but you can see in my map that I stuck very much to that side of the world.
I did like the circular section towards the end though in the forest, certain paths overlapping and different routes leading into each other, the silly insta-death section on the edge of the lake aside of-course. Some of the wildlife was quite dangerous and I did like this image of the stalking Snattacats.
I never met this chap either, but he does have a look of Gimli about him, a sort of exotic, tribal Gimli anyway. There’s some Yosemite Sam in there too I think…
My favourite section of the book was the barren Baklands section, the feeling of eerie isolation was very well conveyed in the writing and gave me similar feelings to that of the utterly wonderful PS3 game, Journey.
One final thing – the time serpent. I think that puzzle wasn’t hard enough! I was prepared for some proper code-breaking stuff there and it turned out to be just roman numerals? More could have been made of that one I think, but even still I did like the use of a visual puzzle. But anyway, best book of the three so far? I think it probably was. But now, please excuse me, there’s an 800 page doorstep sitting ominously on my desk…