The Port Of Peril (Fighting Fantasy #6), by Ian Livingstone
Sometimes in order to appreciate a book you have to know who it’s for. In this case, the audience for this book (and others, as this is part of a series that is at least six books long) is those people who grew up appreciating the Choose Your Own Adventure Books and want the same kind of experience while reading a book of fantasy literature. The book advertises itself with the tagline: “You Are The Hero,” and if that is not an invitation to self-inserting oneself into a dramatic storyline, I do not know what could be taken as such. That is not to say that this is a bad book–it is an enjoyable book with modest aims. It is a book, though, that can only be appreciated by an audience that accepts both the proposition that fantasy adventures are worth reading and that choose your own adventures are a genre worth enjoying as well . If both of these apply to you, then you will find this book to be well worth appreciating but not thinking too much about. If not, then this book will not be of any interest to you whatsoever.
Coming in at about 400 pages, this book is by no means a small one, although the length of time and the amount of pages one will read within it are limited by the decisions one makes. There are many ways to go wrong in this book–and being too greedy does not always benefit someone at all. Some of the choices that one can make are made easier if one remembers instructions given earlier, and depending on one’s skill at looting one can get very much stronger over the course of the book’s plot and therefore be able to do a much better job when it comes to winning the ultimate victory against a cosmic threat at the book’s conclusion. If one has reached page 400, well done. One is not going to complete a mission as dangerous as this one alone, and in fact, if one has done well then one will end up having at least three very powerful allies and end up being a well off and well-respected character who can hope for more adventures as well as many more square meals. Being a hero isn’t always easy, but it is something worth imagining from time to time given the frequently unheroic nature of the contemporary world.
For those who do think that a book like this is worth thinking about, this is a book that contains a fair bit of interest in providing characters with an opportunity to advance themselves through making sound decisions (one such decision that one can make at the very beginning of the story, for example, has an immense impact on the ending depending on whether you choose to buy one particular item while struggling to gain enough money to eat a square meal). The book also provides some surprising insight on the difficulties of fighting evil and the way that cosmic evil and civic authorities are not often so far apart in sympathies as we would wish. This is a book whose entire premise hangs upon the threat that is faced when demonic forces combine with political authorities, and if that is not something that scares you or even concerns you at all then this book is not likely to seem very relevant. Still, for those who do take their demonology and their contemporary politics seriously, even a piece of escapist fluff like this can serve to remind one that even the most ridiculously escapist adventure literature can have a resonance with real-life concerns.
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