Thursday, January 7, 2016

What Is That Wizard Doing: Special Edition

Today's What Is That Wizard Doing is a special edition because it is actually What Is That Warrior Doing.
The Sixth book of the series, Revenge of the Falcon Knight, featured the Warrior on both the US and UK covers.  The Wizard was nowhere to be seen, but both covers are excellent examples of fantasy art and I wanted to make a point or two, so here goes.  First the US edition:

And now the UK edition:

And Now: What in the hell is that Warrior doing?
I presume you can see that the Warrior is bravely doing battle with not one, but two enraged crocodiles (or alligators- I can never tell the difference and to be honest when they are trying to eat you, I don't think positive identification is your main problem).  That's a bit heroic, is it not?  He's going to have to polish that armor and oil it up when this is all over because rust is a significant problem.
Now down in the UK edition the Warrior is bravely facing some unholy crossbreed of a tiger and a cobra.  I defy you to tell me that such is not the stuff of which fantasy badassness is made.
This UK edition is what we expect from a fantasy cover.  I don't know if that is in the book and I don't care because that is the sort of cover that makes you buy a book.  What is the Warrior doing?

However, a bigger question springs to my mind and it is the other point I wanted to make: Why can't we see his face?
Many of these type of gamebooks are written in the second person so that you, the reader, can be fully immersed in the story.  In J.H. Brennan's Grailquest series the protagonist, Pip, is a body for your mind to inhabit.  Pip's features are never shown, nor is Pip's gender ever revealed.  In this way you can be immersed.  In some books you are taking a predetermined role (Dever's Lone Wolf series, for example) and thus the protagonist has a name, a look, and you are allowed to see it.  Wizards Warriors & You walks the line between the two types.  The Wizard and the Warrior don't have actual names.  The books are written in second person.  Yet they are established characters with a background and a look.  We see the Wizard's face all the time.  The Warrior's face is never revealed to us.  Even in the interior illustrations his face is always in shadow, such as when his visor is lifted.  Why?
There is, logically, no good reason to make the Warrior a faceless avatar for the reader but give the Wizard a set of features we can recognize.  Oh, yeah, I know, we don't know the Wizard's hair color.  That's hardly the same thing.  We don't know if either of them are circumcised either, but is that a major identifying mark?  Does that destroy immersion?

I hope you enjoyed this brief interlude and if anyone can get a positive ID on the Warrior, inform your local authorities.


  1. I like warriors, but then you already know that. Wade in a-hackin' and a-slashin'... and hope you've got a healing potion or somebody else decided to play a cleric or paladin and can heal you.

  2. I really love those covers. I know Grailquest. The memories!