ISSN 1555-8320

Kai Grand Sentinel


Monday, July 2, 2007

Review of Flight from the Dark

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to help Joe Dever with the upcoming republication of Flight from the Dark. This means that I can already offer you, the Project Aon faithful, a review.

First things first. This isn't the same, beloved Flight from the Dark that you grew up with. I know many of us feel like the new version threatens the first version's cherished place in our hearts. We worry that it will spoil the memory of the good times we had with Flight from the Dark. We wonder how the new could improve on the original.

When Mongoose informed fans that Lone Wolf would take a more active role in the ill-fated siege of the Kai Monastery, many of us mourned. We enjoyed seeing Silent Wolf grow from an inattentive problem child to Sommerlund's greatest son. This gave many of us hope that we would amount to something despite our own inadequacies. It affirmed that we, too, could grow into something greater. We worried that something important would be lost if Silent Wolf's journey started so heroically.

Some of us, myself included, love to absorb all the little facts about Lone Wolf's world. If you need proof of my devotion to the scholarly path, I even started an encyclopedia! Little contradictions or inconsistencies in the story irritated us. It spoiled our immersion in the world. Two different versions of one book threatens the narrative consistency of Magnamund. The scholars among us worry that two books will make the story less believable and therefore less enjoyable.

I empathize with these concerns, but I found a lot of things to enjoy in the new version, enough to overcome those concerns. I think if we allow the new Flight from the Dark to be great in its own right, we can make a place in our hearts for both versions of the book.

The adventure is greatly expanded over the first telling. With 550 sections, it is the longest Lone Wolf adventure ever published. I mapped out every last section of this complex book, but I've already forgotten enough that I will enjoy playing through my copy when it comes in the mail. The book offers many paths to choose from, too many for me to remember.

You'll recognize the general outline of the adventure, but you're in for some surprises. I don't want to say too much. All I'll say is don't expect to walk through the book the same way you've been doing it for years. There are new twists and new adventures to be had.

I enjoyed getting to know some of the Kai who died that fateful day. They had always been nameless victims. This telling of the story allowed me to meet flesh-and-blood people who sacrificed everything for their people. Lone Wolf and all of the main characters are made more human and three-dimensional. I feel like I know them better now.

The writing for the new version is more polished. Joe Dever has gained a lot of experience since he first wrote Flight from the Dark and it shows. The author has become a better storyteller in the intervening 23 years.

The new artwork is more adult than the original. Gary Chalk's artwork seemed aimed at a younger audience than this new artwork. They aren't as polished as Brian Williams' illustrations for later books, but as an adult, I enjoyed their grittier feel.

This new retelling of Silent Wolf's first adventure hasn't had time to become one of my old friends, but it may someday become one of my favorite Lone Wolf books. I had a lot of fun reading it. I even like it better than the original (if you'll forgive my heresy). Time will tell how readers will receive it, but I think it will gain a place in the hearts of those who give it a chance.

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