Shadows over Sylvania by Jonathan Green

(9.0/10)

Shadows over Sylvania is a ‘Path to Victory’ game book of a kind that draws its origins from the triumphant line of Fighting Fantasy novels. Jonathan Green is a veteran of the Fighting Fantasy range and brings his skills to the Warhammer universe to provide an adventure where you are the (anti)hero.

The setting of the story is the dark and shadow-filled lands of Sylvania where the creatures of the night hold sway. The Old World is at its lowest ebb, the Empire of men is all but decimated by the Vampire Wars and descendants of the great vampire bloodlines seek to reconcile their positions.

As a vampire thrall you have to choose your bloodline (with each of their own dark abilities and skills) and embark on an adventure to secure the upper hand for your master.

I embarked on the adventure as a Von Carstein vampire; as the most recognisable of the vampire archetypes, and in the land of his kin I thought this was appropriate for the first attempt. The adventure took me across the wonderfully bleak landscape meeting suitably gruesome foes and allies. After a fair few close shaves, plenty of blood drinking and some wanton slaughter I completed my adventure with a good amount of twists and turns in the plot.

Quite often with game books the adventure itself either feels too short or agonisingly long with endless foes to face. The danger is that the adventure then feels like a trudge through the book. With Shadows of Sylvania this was not the case. The adventure kept my interest throughout the story and the narrative was engaging and interesting to the end.

I found the allies aspect of the book particularly interesting and this provided added layers of how the adventure could develop. The illustrations by Karl Richardson were also awesome representations of the horrors that await the adventurer.

A great game book with enough options and interesting story line to mean it is revisited many times. This was so much the case that I then tried the book out as the other two options.

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