Portable for the masses

Posted by M J Ward on 28 March 2013

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As I mentioned in my previous news update, 11 April will see the release of the new (and final) edition of The Legion of Shadow. This is the Gollancz Mass Market Paperback – so the most obvious differences are size and weight. But flick past the cover and existing DQers will notice a few changes.

But before I reveal those, back to my initial reactions of the book. For once, I wasn’t waiting on my doorstep like a frothing madman, clad in dressing gown and waving a pair of scissors. This time the books arrived completely out of the blue; I hadn’t been expecting them for another week or so. When I realised what the package was, there was a part of me that was a little blasé – ‘oh, it’s the small version, I’ll take a look later.’

When I finally opened the box and saw the nice new (and shiny) purple logo staring back, the old excitement rushed over me. Yes, the ‘geek’ madman glare had returned!

After finally wrestling a copy out of the packaging, I was just amazed by the lightness of it (you can forget how light ordinary paperbacks actually are – as the previous DQ books were pretty heavy, and the book I am reading at the moment is in the larger format too). The smallness and lightness really suits a gamebook – makes flicking through the pages a lot less stressful on the ol’ wrists and muscles (not that I have much of the latter, I confess).


Evolution of a gamebook – three editions of The Legion of Shadow


And of course, it was nice to peel back the cover and dig into the text, and see my changes. Yep, I was lucky enough to be able to make tweaks to some elements of the book – patching if you like. (For more on that, see my previous news story.) To some, these changes will appear quite subtle, but what the V3 Patch does (as I have decided to label it, to make it sound slightly cool, gamery and all ‘official-like’) is make the learning curve for Act 1 a lot gentler. It is much easier to upgrade your character, boosting speed whilst also improving your primary damage stat. I’ve also gone on to tweak a few items in Act 2 – again, to aid new players.

Legion of Shadow is an odd book for me.  I'll always have a soft spot for it, because it was the book that launched the series, got me known as a writer, and helped me to attain that Holy Grail of a publishing deal. But, as I flick through the pages and remind myself of the quests and the story, yeah I have to agree, it's cheesier than the contents of Wallace & Grommet’s fridge. I also cringe at times when I note the linearity of some of the quests. It was my first gamebook and a steep learning curve (perhaps I needed a patch too!), but I learnt some very valuable lessons from it – ones that have helped me craft Book Two The Heart of Fire and Book Three The Eye of Winter’s Fury into much more satisfying gamebook experiences.  

But I still like the occasional cheese. Who can’t raise a smile when facing off against a garden of angry turnips? Change and patches are all well and good, but I’m pleased that Legion has remained the book I wrote all those years ago – yes, a little naïve, perhaps a little over-ambitious, but my first important step on the DQ road.

Happy gaming.


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