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Richard:
Great write up as usual! That art really is spectacular! (Although the Yeti does look a bit silly.) I really must start this book this week.

Barrington Boots:
Superb stuff Jimbo!
That genie is totally useless.

Dark Jimbo:
Right? If a Skill 12 dragon doesn't warrant his intervention, what on earth is the point?

Still tempted to take another run or two at it - I'm aware it's very much a gamebook of two halves, and I've never yet made it to the second!

Barrington Boots:
By the time you get to the rat-dragon the genie is superfluous sadly. He really hacks me off because he basically says 'if you're in trouble, I'll help!' when he should actually say 'if you're in trouble in a very, very specific manner and circumstance, I'll help!' because that's what he's actually all about. Grr!

You should totally have another run at it dude!

Richard:
Caverns of the Snow Witch

Well, I got precisely one encounter further than Dark Jimbo before perishing! Here's how it went.

I start with Skill 12, suprisingly, and Stamina 19. Unfortunately I only get 7 Luck points, so I choose the Potion of Luck.

Setting off after the Yeti, I avoid the ice bridge over the crevasse because I just assume nothing good will come of crossing it. I encounter a woolly mammoth with 10 skill points, which at the start of the adventure feels a little harsh, but with my own amazing stats I make short work of him. I then trudge through a blizzard, losing two stamina points before I take the hint and stop to build an igloo for shelter. After the blizzard subsides, I enter a cabin and basically treat it like it's my own place, like one of the bears in the Goldilocks tale. I eat someone's food and steal his weapons, a spear and a warhammer. But he won't be needing all that stuff anyway, because I find him just in time to witness him being killed by the Yeti.

I attack the Yeti with the spear, which reduces its skill from 11 to 10 (as I learn later by looking to see what would have happened if I hadn't -- it's not really cheating if I've already made my choice!), and then kill it in a fight, by the end of which my Stamina has been reduced to 12. (Foolishly, I forget to eat anything after the fight, for which I will kick myself later on when it is suddenly reduced to 6.) I avoid an avalanche by successfully testing my Luck, and find the entrance to the Caverns of the title. I am immediately asked to choose between turning left or right, with no information about either option. Fuck you, Sir Ian! I go left.

I meet the Elf with the obedience collar, and basically make the exact same choices as Jimbo because I forgot what he told us about this bit. So in the course of this encounter I lose 2 Luck points, and I now have a Luck score of 4! I drink the Potion of Luck, which increases my Luck score to a massively underwhelming 8.

This time, the next choice of direction tells me that there are footsteps running towards me from one way, so I cautiously head the other way and fall into a pit. Losing half my Stamina, I regret my failure to eat any provisions since fighting the Yeti. I manage to escape from the Goblins who pull me out of the pit at a cost of 2 more Stamina points, so I decide to investigate the kitchen, where a friendly gnome gives me some cake. That only restores one Stamina point, so I eat my own provisions as well, restoring my Stamina to a still pretty nerve-wracking 9, just in time to meet an enormous Ice Demon. I assume I'm about to get absolutely clobbered by it, but luckily it's just a statue, and I only have to deal with the weirdos who are worshipping it. I just run away from them.

At the next junction, I head in the direction some cries for help are coming from, and I rescue the Dwarf. He gives me a sling and some iron balls, and then we part ways. I eat some more provisions, and then head off to meet my next encounter, some dipshit illusionist. I fuck his shit up, meet the pointless Genie, and leave via the door in the shape of a skull.

I am now in a room occupied by a Frost Giant who, as far as I can tell, hasn't seen me and who has done me no wrong. I could just sneak past him. But as this is an Ian Livingstone book, I assume I will probably need to steal his stuff, so I unethically knock him out with the sling and an iron ball and search his gaff. I find three rings. The first one I choose gives me the power to resist the freezing cold, which is obviously quite handy in the ice caverns. I assume that at least one of the other two rings must be a booby prize, so I decide not to push my luck any further and I leave them.

The next encounter is with the Crystal Warrior, who is invulnerable to edged weapons. That's fine, I think, as I wield my trusty warhammer. But I am actually penalized for having the hammer, because now I have to fight it, and it has 11 Skill points and more Stamina than I do -- whereas if I didn't have a hammer (or if I was given the option of doing something else), the Genie would have come along and made me invisible and I wouldn't have had to fight it at all! Fucking Genie! Fucking Ian!

The fight is quite brutal, and I only just survive. I stagger, bleeding and concussed, to a junction where I have to choose again between left and right with no information about either. Left went badly for me last time (the goblins' pit), so I go right. I meet a zombie with Skill 6, Stamina 6, the easiest fight in the whole book so far, and I am given the option to Escape, also for the first time. This seems suspicious to me, as whenever a gamebook is this keen to give you every opportunity to leave, it usually means you are in the right place. The illustration of the zombie also shows lots of stuff behind him. So I fight him, win easily, and come across an absolute goldmine of wicked stuff! I'm only allowed to take three things with me. Do the four dragons' eggs count as one item or four? To be on the safe side I write "Dragon egg(s)" on my Equipment List. I also take some garlic, because I remember from my original playthrough that the Snow Witch is a vampire, and a jar containing some ground minotaur horn, because it sounds like the kind of thing that might be an ingredient of some healing potion or something, and I remember that there's a guy called "the Healer" later on in the book so it might come in useful?

I eat some more provisions, so I now have 9 Stamina points. In the next room I encounter the White Rat the Dwarf warned me to watch out for, and I am asked if I have any ground minotaur horn! I do! I sprinkle some over the rat as it is beginning to transform into something else (the dragon that did for Jimbo, although the text doesn't tell me that), and it stops the transformation and forces the rat back into its original shape. We've made progress guys!

In the very next paragraph I encounter the Snow Witch! She's a vampire, and I have some garlic to ward her off, but I don't have any vampire-killing weapons to fight her with. She overcomes her fear of garlic, and it's an instant death paragraph for me!

This is quite a fun book, and it has some really good illustrations, the wood-cut effect is pretty cool. I'll give it another go soon.

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