Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Howl of the Werewolf

One of the very late entries in the Fighting Fantasy canon, Howl of the Werewolf begins with a CCR song.

Because when I think of werewolves, I think of John Fogerty.
Why couldn't it be 'Fortunate Son'? There's nothing fortunate about the protagonist in this book: me. You. Whatever. You know how it works.

It starts with a fight against an alpha wolf and his pack. But it turns out the alpha isn't any ordinary wolf. It's of wolf and man (trust me, I'm going somewhere with this.)

Bitten by a werewolf, I'm not off to a good start. But luckily I'm saved by a woodsman named Ulrich. His first name isn't mentioned, but let's call him Lars (told you I was going somewhere with this).

Something tells me 'Creeping Death' is going to be an appropriate caption for this image, and this book.
Ulrich gives me this withered man-paw thing,he chopped off the swearwolf. Sorry, werewolf.

Let's hope vampires aren't next.
I throw it in the fire and curse my bad luck. Lars tells me to settle down, there are three options: find a cure, kill Rhys Darby the alpha werewolf or go see what 'wisewoman Grandmother Zekova' recommends. I opt for the latter, 'cause I don't really want to try fighting again. Didn't go so well last time.

Zekova makes a potion of herbs and my own blood, drawn with a knife, which slows the lycanthropic infection (but probably gives me tetanus. Win some, lose some).

We're soon attacked by another group of wolves - strangely chanting the 'little pig, little pig' refrain of nursery rhyme fame - whom Lars, Zekova and I dispatch with the efficiency of a pig armed with a brick house and a cauldron.

Zekova tells us we need to find the wolf that bit me, which we do promptly, and kill it. Which we also do. Then Lars turns into a bear ( ♪ SHAPE CHAAAANGE ♪) and I have to kill him, which makes me the new drummer for Metallica. But I'm still a werewolf for some reason, my quest incomplete. I think I might not have been listening to Zekova properly. Or Metallica.

After a sleep and eating three breakfasts to heal my wounds, I'm heading northbound. Long story short, I end up staying at an inn with possessed furniture and tenants conducting black magic rituals. One star, do not stay at The Gibbet Tree.

Onwards, I'm at some kind of carnival, checking out the freaks when I come across a 'snake-woman'. Before I get a chance to decide how to react, the book sums it for me.

It's the tongue. Very few human women have a forked tongue.
Later that night we get into a fight after she wraps herself around me, and not in that way. After a day spent playing XCOM 2 and having my soldiers constantly getting constricted by vipers, it's enough to add PTSD to my lycanthropy.

Holy shit, do not google 'XCOM 2 vipers'.
And yeah, close-up she's definitely unnatural.

Windows 10's built-in editing tools has a 'burlesque' filter, but it doesn't do much for the 'unnatural' snake-woman. Again, do NOT google 'XCOM 2 vipers'.
But I win, take my prize of a silver dagger, and flee. Ironically enough, on presenting this silver dagger as an offer of peace to a group of angry she-wolf ladies later in the book is what leads to my ultimate death in battle.


I'm not sure what to make of this book. Off the top of my head, it's the last one that was published before the long-awaited return of O.G. Ian Livingstone with Blood of the Zombies, it's a massive 500-something pages and every paragraph is longer than an episode of Game of Thrones.

Despite this, it didn't take me long to make it to Lupravia, where the final boss is supposedly located, and some of the encounters in-between contracting a clichéd race-against-time disease and the endgame were woefully clichéd. I literally stumbled into the creation of Frankenstein's monster, not to re-mention the 'three little pigs' encounter. Bit of a scattershot, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach. Maybe I just went the wrong way?


In better news, my 8yo son - who wasn't even alive when I started this blog - was intrigued enough by what I was doing with a book and dice, that he asked if he could have a go. So I gave him the FF gamebook with the cover no eight-year-old kid could ever resist.

More people would read The Bible if this was the cover.
He proceeded to cheat his way through it and still die a "fiery death", which he thought was awesome.


Ed Jolley said...

Off the top of my head, it's the last one that was published before the long-awaited return of O.G. Ian Livingstone with Blood of the Zombies

Stormslayer and Night of the Necromancer both came between Howl and Blood.

Aussiesmurf said...

Robot Commando - dinosaurs and robots!

It just needed zombies as well.

Great to see you back - you should get your son on Way of the Tiger - karate and ninjas!

The Warlock said...

Ulrich *was* his first name.

And there were two more adventures before Blood of the Zombies was published.

Kish said...

What Zekova said was that you needed to kill the werewolf at the top of the chain that had led to you being infected, and if you were lucky the chain would turn out to only have two links in it and killing the werewolf who had bitten you would do it; you weren't that lucky.

You almost reached the Arch-Lycanthrope, but having only one silver dagger, confronting him so soon, and being unable to outfight his pack all point to "he would have killed you without effort if you had."