An adventure to close an extra-dimensional portal

Portal of Evil - Peter Darvill-Evans

It took me a while to get around to reading this one, but that probably has more to do with the fact that I am now up to number 37 so not only am I in new territory when it comes to Fighting Fantasy books (I had only read up to, I think, number 21 previously) but I am expecting that the quality of them to start to degrade. It is basically the Law of Diminishing Returns – the more you do something, the less enjoyable (or worse) it gets, and that generally holds also true with television shows (and the Big Bang Theory is a case in point). That is not always true because one of my favourite Shakespearian plays was actually the last play that he wrote ([book:The Tempest]).

There is nothing particularly new with this game book, in which I mean that there are no new rules or anything like that. It uses the standard rules, has no magic, and no special statistics. However, I still quite liked this one because the story was interesting and you didn't really know what was going on at the beginning. In many of the books you have a pretty good idea as to the background of the adventure. However we are told very little, and we slowly learn more as we move through the book.

This is also one of those books that if you head in the wrong direction (such as going to Kleinkastel too early) you end up missing a lot of important parts to the book. For instance, if you do not go and look for the rebels, you will not learn of the sorcerer that may be able to help, and even if you do learn of the sorcerer but do not go and visit him, you will end up missing out on some important items. I worked that out when I discovered, in Kleinkastel and a little after, that not only did I need gold (you don't start with any) but there was another object that I needed but didn't have. Oh, and the sorcerer tells you how to actually get through the portal (if you let him do his research – don't worry, this book does not have a time restriction).

It is also interesting that a lot of the monsters in this book are dinosaurs. Basically if you pass through the portal one of three things can happen – you can turn into a zombie slave controlled by the portal, turn into a dinosaur, or simply become obliterated (in that order). The plot, though, is a little clichéd, though not necessarily in the Fighting Fantasy sense. Basically a bunch of greedy gold miners end up digging too deep, uncover an ancient portal, and end up releasing an ancient evil on the land, and guess what, that's right: it is up to you to stop it.