In October 2011, I reviewed DestinyQuest: The Legion of Shadow by Michael J. Ward. In November 2012, DestinyQuest: The Heart of Fire, Book 2 of the series, was released. So the burning question, should you read the sequel?
If you enjoyed The Legion of Shadow or gamebooks as a genre, the short answer is yes. But most of you want a more detailed reason, so read on.
What is a Gamebook?
Let me boil this down first for the uninitiated. A gamebook is what it says. It is a game as well as a book. You are reading a story about the hero character, and participating in the adventure by choosing the direction the story goes and fighting the enemies you come up against.
In the first book, the character began the story with no memory of life before. It’s a useful trope because we learn about the world with the character. But since this is the second book, such a trope isn’t needed or wanted.
The character in The Heart of Fire is a prophet who sees visions of a terrible catastrophe looming. Through a twist of fate, this prophet becomes involved in those same visions, and fighting against their outcome.
The story itself has been refined in the fire. From the start, the quests you undertake are linked to the overall story. Plus, decisions you make in quests will effect possibilities for later quests. And these possibilities are not limited to the quests in the same Act, either. This is opposed to The Legion of Shadow where the main story didn’t show till Act 2, and the quests were (for the most part) insular.
Game mechanics and rules haven’t changed in The Heart of Fire. The rules from The Legion of Shadow are the same. Roll the dice, determine who hit, use skills, and determine damage. If anything, the loot and skills have been refined to make it a smoother experience. And that is always a good thing.
What is new are the Team Battles. Each Act has a battle with a monster so powerful that you have no hope of defeating it alone. You need help. And that help comes in the form of the hero from The Legion of Shadow. You thought the Legendary encounters were tough? Then you are not prepared.
The Team Battles are a great challenge, and a lot of fun. The experience reminds me of raids and group dungeons from my World of Warcraft days. The two heroes must work together to bring down these enemies. And if they can, amazing rewards await.
As I said at the start, if you enjoyed The Legion of Shadow, you will not be disappointed. The Heart of Fire is an excellent addition to the series. You will feel right at home with the world, and meet some familiar faces along the way.
Now, for newcomers, don’t let the size intimidate you. Like the first, this is a huge book. But it is worth the time. There is an epic story being woven here, and it is worth the read for that alone.
It is clear that Michael Ward has learned from writing The Legion of Shadow and has refined the things that made the first book good. I’m looking forward to Book 3 of the series. And another read through or two of The Heart of Fire.