Friday, June 24, 2016

Twistaplot #4 Golden Sword of Dragonwalk

After another one of my patented lengthy hiatuses (Hey, those sovereign citizens getting owned videos aren't going to review themselves!) it's back at it with a return to the miserable blasted wasteland that is Twist-a-Plot. Last time, when there was still snow on the ground, I enjoyed an interactive and significantly shorter and less symbolic re-imagining of Moby Dick. Today it looks like a dream world of fantasy is on the menu. With R.L. Stine holding the pen instead of the usual Z-list it might even be fair to go into this with some moderately raised expectations. On the other hand, Twist-a-Plot.

What "The Hobbit" really needed was goofy apropos to nothing purple bubbles.

One can only marvel at the general competence and minimal levels of respect for the reader on display from the future Goosebumps creator. In just two short and largely painless pages we set up the secular Narnia analogue, introduce an annoying sidekick character that is described as such and get some pretty sweet prose game. Honestly, you can see why this guy went on to have such a long and successful career just from the opening. The upshot of all of this is the discovery of a "passageway" behind a bookcase that might possibly lead into a world of dragons and heroic sword swingers.

Still, it's Twist-a-Plot so I'm forced to drag along little sister analogue "Stacy" with me into whatever amazing secrets lie beyond the pleasing and practical furniture. with her complaining the entire way. Why include something that's intended to annoy? Was it so very necessary to have someone else present to exchange expository dialogue with? I mean, I hate writing descriptions too, but I don't try to come up with elaborate and odious end-arounds.

True dat.

Anyway I'm in what's basically the medieval portion of the Westworld amusement park. I meet the sorcerer "Merle" and before he can tell me how he turned 21 in magician prison because no one could stop him from doing evil magic but momma tried we've got a dragon issue. Basically "starving" myth-lizards are using the village as a free-range cafeteria and attempts to solve this issue with independent contractors have failed, devastating the local economy. Stacy is repeatedly asking to "go home" while this is being explained, because that always vastly improves a "these are dark days!" exposition dump.

I announce my candidacy to be the next doomed dragon fighter and the Gandalf wannabe helpfully provides the legendary "Golden Sword of Dragonwalk," expressing disappointment that I've never heard of it. He than concedes it doesn't really have any special powers other than, I guess, being relatively sharp, and instead the order one fights the three dragons is critical. An order I've have to guess. This whole set-up is causing some very unpleasant memories to come rushing back.

"Merle," as depicted on the aesthetically displeasing alternate cover.

Merle is no help in what the proper order is, instead running like a scalded hound at the approach of the scaly fantasy world cliches. I guess I'll have to figure it out on my own, presumably by staring at a wall and having that mistaken for narcotics intoxication. The "little" one will probably get there first, so that's a logical first target, than maybe go after the "big" monster, since it will presumably be more of a threat than the mediocre in all categories "middle" one. Sure, makes sense. Let's get this mother on.

Screaming a battle cry I enter the last good fight and, incredibly, eat the lunch of the small reptilian, leaving it in a defeated heap after chopping it down. The victory is short-lived as the super size American version of the fire lizard is right there to replace it. I show my mettle by dropping the sword while Merle praises my not dying abilities. You might be speaking a little prematurely, dudemar.

With heroic effort I pull the sword loose from a stone (ugh) and hack away at the dragon alpha male until it collapses and dies like the giant wuss that it is. The middle dragon is so demoralized by the death of its comrades that it just stands there and let's me run it through like this is the end of a bullfight or something. Victory! 

Another multi-level marketing scam, no doubt.

In return for saving the village and defeating three Satan metaphors the wizard offers to grant one wish, something he apparently has the power to do but for whatever reason decided not to use to wish away the monsters preying on the feudal property. Naturally good old Stacy wishes to go back home and this is granted even though the wish was clearly given to me. You know, the guy that saved everyone. If there was a fireplace in this room this book would be going into it right about now. Instead the story goes back to the other choice you were given at the beginning and we're done here.

No monkey paw, bro.

Overall the surprisingly high quality of the writing can't save this one from the unusually high level of fatal flaws the author decided we'd enjoy. Annoying child sidekick, annoying Greek chorus wizard, random luck battles, ruin a wish, massive internal logic flaws, etc. Honestly, just one of them would have ruined the experience, why did we have to pile on like this? Then I looked at the cover again, saw the Twist-a-Plot logo and answered my own question.

I kill dragons.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.  

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