The Seven Serpents (1984)

Ah, The Seven Serpents. A brilliant concept that doesn’t quite work.

This time, you’re in a desert. Thanks to the climax of the previous book, the titular snakes are racing to warn the Bad Guy about your imminent arrival. Your job is to hunt them down before they get there, or else face a heavy penalty at the start of the final book. Sounds amazing, right?

It isn’t. The thing about Fighting Fantasy books, and adventure gamebooks in general, is that they meander by design. This book has no mechanism that simulates your race against time. Either you find the snakes, or you don’t. Which is doubly disconcerting because the serpents all have abilities that should make them nigh impossible to catch, but then they sort of wait around for you to find them. Making matters worse, there’s nothing guiding you to the snakes the way that Khare’s central puzzle does in the previous book. You’re down to trial and error, mostly, which is a poor design choice.

Also, Blanche’s art here is a little less than inspired, with some odd subject choices. There’s still greatness, though – the ruins illustration is maybe my favorite of the series.

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