I absolutely love CYOA (choose-your-own-adventure) books from my time in school, but of all the ones I read, the D&D Endless Quest series were some of the best. Granted, Dungeons & Dragons is basically a CYOA setting with friends, but on occasion, you really wish your friends made a different decision, which is where Endless Quest comes into play as you have control of what you do and where you go. The series originally ran from 1982-87, and a Second Series that ran from 1994-96, both published by TSR before the company was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. Now, with a new resurgence in the game, the series has been revived as WotC and Candlewick Press have released four new books in what is unofficially the Third Series. But how do these compare to the previous versions?
We were sent a copy of one book: Into The Jungle, written by Matt Forbeck who has had a hand in several series including Blood Bowl, Guild Wars, and Knights of the Silver Dragon among others. The book puts you int he role of a Dwarf Cleric who just arrived at Port Nyanzaru in Chult, a familiar setting for those of you who played Tomb of Annihilation. Without giving away too much of the plot, you're here to find a specific person who is carrying an artifact you desperately need to make sure the world isn't wreaked havoc upon. Like all CYOA novels, you are given a basic introduction and then are given one of two paths to choose.
Like a lot of people who read these types of novels, we cheated a little and held our finger on a page, but we did so for the sake of the review to see what kind of spiderweb we had gotten ourselves into with this particular adventure. This book does an amazing job of capturing the spirit of D&D. You can take what is thought to be the safe way of doing things, or you can take a little risk and see how it pans out for you. Some of the artwork in this book, created by Conceptopolis and Chris Seaman, look exactly like guides and rulebooks that WotC would produce, right down to having grid maps of iconic locations for you to look at before you make your choices.
And my, are some of the choices before you unfitting for an adventurer. You'll run into giants, shady thieves, a monastery, wizards who don't have your best interest at heart, a cavalcade of creatures that you'll need to slay or evade. All the classics an adventure needs. As you make your way through, you'll find several endings both good, bad, and disappointing, all based on the choices that you made but not a single one of them uninteresting. You'll get some great laughs out of this book as you go.
I really enjoyed this series as it felt new but also carried some of the classic tropes of the first two series. The other three D&D books give you the options of playing as a Rogue, a Fighter, and a Wizard, so you have options of who to play as rather than random adventures where you get what you're given. I would love to see this series expand and be widely available to school children like how I was exposed to the series growing up, as these are safe adventures without gore or bloodshed that are easy to read and understand. Kids may even learn a word or two along the way. We highly recommend both adults and kids checking out the new Endless Quest series.