Maelorum Vol. 1 Review

Today, I’m going to be reviewing Maelorum, Volume 1, by William Fincher. The book launched in 2012 with the first of two successful Kickstarter campaigns. The second campaign brought a reprint, along with a hardcover version and some fun extras. William has proven that he can run and deliver a successful Kickstarter campaign. I say this because the campaign for Volume 2 is coming October 10, 2014.

This review is something that’s been on my to-do list for way too long. Specifically, since I worked through the book after backing it the first time. And with Volume 2 on the way, I wanted to make sure people were aware of its existence. So with apologies to Mr. Fincher for the tardiness, let’s get this rolling.

Continue reading

Destiny Quest: The Eye of Winter’s Fury review

It is no secret that I enjoy the Destiny Quest series of gamebooks by Michael J. Ward. I’ve reviewed the previous two entries, The Legion of Shadow and The Heart of Fire, each getting high marks. So it’s a no brainer for me to review The Eye of Winter’s Fury, Book 3 of the series.

When I read the blurb, the concept sounded familiar: A prince traveling into the frozen north for a chance to save his kingdom, and losing himself in the process. The story idea is similar to Warcraft 3 and its expansion The Frozen Throne by Blizzard. But that is where the similarities end.

If you want the short version of this review: yes, get this book. Read on for a more detailed look.


The Eye of Winter’s Fury starts with all guns blazing. Or maybe, all arrows flying: Betrayed by those protecting him only to be saved by a demon prophet. Then dying from the northern elements and returned to life by a spirit bear. As the Crown Prince to the throne of Valeron, Arran doesn’t have an easy life. Or un-life, for that matter. And the story doesn’t pull punches. The only person I’ve seen put their characters through more is George R. R. Martin.

Elements of Norse mythology have been pulled into The Eye of Winter’s Fury, further enhancing the world. It’s fun to see bits of stories that I’ve heard and read in another form.

And the storytelling is top notch. Michael has done great work writing and refining the story. After the work I’ve done with editing some of my writing, I can appreciate how hard it is.


Michael has done a remarkable job balancing the game system. The concept has not changed since the first book. No reason to change something that is working well. The equipment is dolled out regular enough that you never feel underpowered.

One addition is a new set of skills: Death Moves. These are abilities that you are able to use after you defeat an enemy. So it is really only useful when fighting multiple enemies, which you will be doing a lot of. It’s an exciting addition, and they add a new layer to the combat system. Two that I have obtained with my rogue help me whittle the remaining enemies down. In one battle, I was able to win in three rounds with no damage to myself.

Another fun addition is the use of vehicles. In the first act, there is a dog sled race that you are able to participate in. You buy your sled, lead dog, and some extra equipment, and can then participate in the races.

The rules use the same system for skill checks. You are given a stat to roll against, for instance a Toughness of 9. Then you roll two six sided dice (2d6), and add in your current Toughness value. If the result is equal or higher, you succeed. If not, you fail.

It’s a simple concept, and works great. From my flipping through the book, I know there are some more opportunities in Act 2 for more. I look forward to it.


Yes, I’m only through the first of 2 Acts. Even with the shortened Act structure, the action and story is as fast paced as the 3 Act structure of the previous books. Maybe more so.

While I wish the book had 3 Acts, it doesn’t suffer. Michael fit everything in that needs to be there, and more. That is a testament to his writing ability, as well as the gameplay testing that went into the book.

As for only being a bit more than half way through the book? Yeah, I take a while to work through these. I can say with assurance, though, that this is a worthy addition to the Destiny Quest series. It may even be the best yet.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Destiny Quest series will be viewed in the same way that the Lone Wolf series is in the future. It is an excellent series and people will be playing through them to read the story again and again. Michael J. Ward has proven his ability to write a compelling tale that is worthy of a novel, but contained in a game form.

Unfortunately, the series has been put on hold for now. While gamebooks have seen a resurgence, they are still not as popular as they were in the 1980’s and 90’s. That being said, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Mr. Ward’s future projects.

Again, The Eye of Winter’s Fury is an excellent addition to the series. You won’t regret the purchase.


I want to add that I was given a copy to review by Michael J. Ward and Gollancz. These are my opinions as a fan, nothing more. Thank you to Michael and Gollancz for the copy of an excellent book.

DQ3 – The Eye of Winter’s Fury preview

First and foremost, thanks to the people at Gollancz and author Michael J. Ward for a slightly advanced copy of Destiny Quest: The Eye of Winter’s Fury. I say slightly because of the travel time “across the pond”. The book came out last Thursday, I just got it a week later. BUT! That won’t stop me from doing a slight preview and review (when I’m done). I also had an unexpected surprise with a copy of Tithe of the Saviours by A J Dalton. Look for a review of it as well.

Playing Destiny Quest 3

Playing Destiny Quest 3

So, how does The Eye of Winter’s Fury stack up? So far, it looks like it may be the best of the series. And I’m only through the Prologue.

And what a Prologue it is. It’s a whole quest unto itself, as compared to a large section in the previous books. I’ve run into one puzzle, a number of combats to ease readers into the story and the rules, and one heck of a twist. The heroes in the Destiny Quest series have hard lives, and this one will be no different.

So, if you are a fan of The Legion of Shadow and The Heart of Fire, you will want to pick this up.

Destiny Quest: The Story So Far

The Eye of Winter’s Fury, Book 3 in the Destiny Quest series, arrives Thursday, April 17. In honor of it, I thought I’d offer a recap of the other books to help remind what has gone on so far. Be aware that there will be spoilers here on out. If you don’t want to have the story of the previous two books (which I highly recommend) ruined, then don’t read any further. You have been warned!

Continue reading

DestinyQuest: The Heart of Fire review

The Heart of Fire cover

That’s a face only a mother could love.

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.

Continue reading

Maelorum gamebook Kickstarter

Maelorum logo

You might know that I am a fan of gamebooks. I to take a short break to bring attention to a Kickstarter campaign that ends in just a few days. Maelorum.

This book is written and illustrated by William Fincher. And as I’ve glanced at the images and read about the gameplay. The system that he has designed is intriguing. I’m excited to be able to take a look at it (thanks to an early birthday gift).

As I said, Mr. Fincher has a Kickstarter campain going for $5,000. And with 6 days left, he has just over $500 remaining to the goal. Go take a look. I know I’ve been enjoying this genre of books. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Maelorum logo is copyright William Fincher.