“A classic and must-have”

An English Article

One of the first reviews of the English edition of Rider of the Black Sun. Written by James Spearing. Find him on Facebook.

The Rider of the Black Sun Kickstarter Campaign Flyer.

This is a look at Rider of the Black Sun by Swen Harder, illustrated by FuFu Frauenwahl.
This was originally a Kickstarter. It took about a year longer to complete than originally planned. This was mainly because the publishers wanted to improve on the initial English translation from the native German version.

In the meantime, all copies were upgraded to hard copies. But was it worth the wait?

First of all, this is a huge beast. At around 1,400 paragraphs and over 700 pages, this was a massive undertaking to produce. Even to play it has taken me over a month and feels like I’ve played the equivalent of at least 4 normal sized ‘advanced’ gamebooks such as the Lone Wolf books. And in fact, Mantikore are the German publishers of the Lone Wolf books. This is appropriate as we will see.

The plot line in this dark fantasy is very strong, all the more for only gradually unfolding as the book progresses. It could easily have been a very daunting affair due to its size. However, the design of this book is inspired. The book is made up of chapters between 25 and 200 paragraphs.

At the end of each chapter, you are told if you have found all the possible fate points available chapter. If you haven’t, then you are encouraged to retry that chapter again until you are satisfied. This means that once you finish the adventure, you have already played it through several times, and don’t feel you have to start from scratch again.

Although the gamebook starts with a slight Creature of Havoc vibe, the story never sits still. There are big battles and ship encounters which match the best of the Lone Wolf books, and touches all of its own including breath-taking dragon riding sequences.

There are also some clever puzzles, including one with an approach I have never encountered before. Very satisfying! Also, there is an extra chapter to play through near the end if you have attained the rider rank of master. There is also an extra chapter that is only meant to be played on a second play through.

The replay ability of this book feels endless. Not only does the story unfold gradually. The rules are also spread out between the first few chapters. This was a great idea, as there is quite a lot to take in.

Combat is similar to Fighting Fantasy, but with the possibility of a lot more upgrades available through weapons and special items. There are also Karma points to acquire. These can be spent on special items to help in combat, such as helping when attacking, or when defending.

Combat is not to be taken lightly – your hit points are known as Vitality. There are only 6 levels of Vitality (to start with) before you are dead. However, I found the combat to be nicely judged, and far from impossible.

I’m amazed to say that I did not notice a single mistake in the translation, which goes to show how much effort and skill went into this. The illustrations are very striking, involving contrasting black and white areas. The sheer number of them is impressive too.

Near the end, I struggled with the choices that was provided at one point, but I think this may ha e been my fault for not noting something down near the start of the game a few weeks before.

Altogether, I believe that this gamebook will go down as a classic and a must have. It will take some time to play through, but you will enjoy every moment!

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Do you have your own opinion about Rider of the Black Sun? Please don’t hesitate to tell me!

If you’re interested to get your hands on a copy of Rider of the Black Sun, just have a look at the publisher’s webshop. (Please make sure to set the shop to English to find the English edition of the gamebook.)