I'm re-reading this series which was translated in Italian along with a lot of other gamebooks and I must say, it's quite lovely! So far i've finished volume 1 (Bloodfeud of Altheus) and volume 2 (At the Court of Minos). Volume 2 adds a really nice twist to the Labyrinth, and the initial part where you delve into court intrigue is quite interesting too. I am really enjoying it. Have you ever played these gamebooks?
I have mixed feelings about them. I like the variety of paths in Book 1 and the different effects your patron God can have, but the writing is cringe-inducing in places. The writers seem to want to show off how much they know about mythology in every single sentence. Stuff like "As you walk along the streets of Athens, founded by Cecrops, the first mortal to deem himself a god, sunlight brought forth from the chariot of Helios falls upon marble pillars supporting the roofs of magnificent temples, much as the Titan Atlas holds up the sky itself" abounds. Maybe whoever did the Italian translation played all that down. It's thankfully not so bad in Book 2 and Book 3 is actually pretty well-written.
Combat is a decent and quick system though it is often unforgiving. Taking Ares as your patron really helps a lot there. Book 3 is incredibly unforgiving and repeatedly kills you off for not guessing what the authors want you to do. Which is a pity because Book 3 is nothing short of epic and has a tragic overtone unusual in gamebooks. It also has one of the most intriguing chaarcters in any gamebook in Markos the Phonecian. Book 2 is probably the strongest overall, making a decent stab at intrigue and having one of the few gamebook mazes that isn't an absolute borefest.
Oh and whichever one of the three authors came up with the Taking a Hint system needs slapped. It is up there with Chasms of Malice's One Strike Combat when it comes to awful gamebook ideas. That you oftyen have no idea what taking teh hint will involve is bad enough. But in Book 3 where it can often make the difference between success and failure, it really amkes me want to chuck the book out the window.
There are also bits in the writing that are lifted from Homer and epic poetry - the use of epithets (amicable Altheus, stony-hearted hunger).
Book 1 is the standard trek, book 2 has lots of interesting ideas but they don't seem really to go anywhere, in that you can pick up a load of intel but it's not much use; however if you are in favour with Demeter, the fate of Pangryon is one of the most horrific in all gamebooks. Book 3 though is a mix of pretty much every Greek epic going - Odyssey, Theseid, Oresteia - and lacks any coherence.
From what I understand, the series was written by three sixth-formers at one of the top private schools. You couldn't tell, a very mature series. A book 4 would have been fascinating; perhaps moving from epic to history, you defend Athens from the Persians...
Just finished the first book and I think Kieran's criticism of the sustained info dumps are spot on haha. That being said, I loved the adventure and I get the feeling that the other books are even better based on the above comments...fun fun fun!
It is great to see all of that rich Greek mythology being utilised in a gamebook too. Used to love reading about Ulysses etc. Coincidentally there was a great joke I was told just the other day:
A classics professor goes to a tailor to get his trousers mended. The tailor asks: "Euripides?"
I remember these a little bit. I only played the first because I always play a series in order until I complete them all. I never completed the first. As I remember I always died in combat to just about anyone or anything. Also, the already mentioned 'taking a hint' system was a big pile of shit.
Author of 'Hellfire', 'Riders of the Storm', 'House of Pain' (sequel to House of Hell) and 'Deathtrap' (prequel to Deathtrap Dungeon). All are available for download here or at: www.ffproject.com/download.htm