Please, oh please, 2016. Please stop. The year that claimed Anton Yelchin, Kenny Baker, and Tanith Lee (not to mention Prince, David Bowie, and soooo many others) isn’t done yet: Joe Dever, author of the Lone Wolf game book series, has died today. He was 60 years-old.
Before the widespread distribution of home computers, gaming books played a significant role in bringing interactive fantasy entertainment to people unable to participate in tabletop role-playing games. Similar to the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series, gaming books combined a branching “pick a path” fiction format with rudimentary tabletop role-playing game rules. Using this hybrid system, readers could create a unique character, arm him or her, and use die rolls to engage the book’s enemies in combat.
The Lone Wolf book series invited readers to step into the boots of the eponymous warrior monk as he quested across the land of Magnamund: a unique and richly conceived world of magic and monsters. Dever’s attention to detail and colorful imagination made Magnamund one of the great invented worlds of fantasy fiction. While it is not as well known as Middle-earth or the Forgotten Realms, it certainly deserves to be among them.
For the most part, the game book genre has fallen by the wayside, having been replaced by computer gaming. However, Dever’s Lone Wolf series has found a sort of immortality that few, if any, of its competitors did. The line has spawned a couple of tabletop role-playing games (the most recent from Cubicle 7), several video games, graphic novels, and much more. There was even talk of a movie at one time, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside — for now, anyway.
You might not have known Dever’s work, but there’s no reason why you can’t experience it now. Before he died, Dever gave permission to Aon Entertainment to reprint all of the Lone Wolf books online. They’re free to download and are just as fun as they were years ago. Try them out here!