Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Endless Quest #6: Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons

"Forced into a duel of wizards at the mysterious Rainbow Castle, you are magically separated from your teacher and grandfather, Pentegarn, who battles for his life against three evil wizards.  You must get back to him!"  --from the back cover

Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons, by Rose Estes, is unique in that it's the only non-licensed Endless Quest book that is a sequel to an earlier book (to my knowledge, anyway--I never read most of the later 'first series' nor any of the 'second series' EQ books).  The characters of Jamie, Fox, Owl, and Pentegarn return from Pillars of Pentegarn in this book.  Baltek the Fighter and Lydia the Thief do not return (maybe the official ending was one in which they died?  It doesn't say...)

Jamie, the protagonist, is now a teenager, and an apprentice wizard.  You've got only a few spells, but Pentegarn's blood gives you an innate ability with magic, so you've got a lot of potential (in other words, don't expect Ms. Estes to stick to the Vancian rules of D&D...although there was at least one place where she mentioned having to 'refresh' spells).  However, before your training is complete, word that Pentegarn is back in the Pillars reaches three evil wizards, Malus, Pothos and (I keep wanting to say Aramis) Rubus.  These three have claimed magical rulership over the district, and challenge Pentegarn to come to Rainbow Castle and duel with them.

The book starts out in a way that made me leery, despite remembering that as a kid I enjoyed this book.  The first choice is a non-choice.  Pick the wrong one and it sends you to the other choice anyway.  The second choice is the same.  Again, I get the feeling they were thrown in as a way to break up the overlong introduction.  But the third choice is where the real adventure begins, and it gives you three options that lead to three different adventure locations.

Basically, the three wizards want you out of the way while they duel so you don't cheat for Pentegarn (and they can cheat against him, of course).  So they offer to send you to Limbo, the Game Room, or the Tower.  The Tower course is the most limited, as it has a few options that send you to Limbo or the Game Room, but can lead to its own good ending.  The Game Room option again has a way to lead to Limbo, and has two good endings that you can find.  The Limbo option also has two good endings.  Bad endings in this book pretty much mean death (or permanent magical transformation).  There's only one neutral ending I remember where you escape with Owl, leaving Pentegarn and Fox to their fates.

There are some fairly interesting things to encounter in the book, and some nice, unusual locations.  It doesn't read like a typical D&D adventure, but it doesn't feel 'wrong' either.  One oddity is that there is a place where you can meet a guardian who has some magical colored stones that you need to arrange to escape.  The book actually has a half page illustration, and suggests cutting them out or tracing them to actually do the puzzle yourself.  The opposite page is an illustration, so you wouldn't lose any text if you did cut them out, but I wouldn't want to.  When I was a kid, I'd checked this book out from the library so of course I couldn't (I remember I did trace them, though, and did the puzzle).

The rainbow dragons are a bit weak, actually.  There aren't that many ways you can encounter them, and they breathe rainbows as a breath weapon.  That may be the reason the three bumbling evil wizards were able to oust the dragons from Rainbow Castle.  But despite that, the book is entertaining.  It's not quite as good as Pillars of Pentegarn, but then I think that's one of the top books in the series.

The art is pretty good in this book.  The cover is a rare Easley painting rather than an Elmore.  The interiors are by Harry J. Quinn, who did Pillars of Pentegarn, so there's a feeling of continuity with the art. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  It has a few flaws, but it's got a lot of good ideas, and some non-standard situations that break some D&D tropes in a good way.  It has a variety of paths that lead to good endings despite the linear beginning. 

Protagonist:  Apprentice Wizard, much improved over his first appearance
Sidekicks:  The bickering Fox and Owl return for more of the same
Adventure:  Interesting.  Not quite D&D, but varied and strange.
Endings:  Quite a few good endings, mostly deadly bad endings.
Art:  Nice cover (Easley), cool interiors (Quinn)
Overall:  Good


  1. I remember really liking this one as a kid, and I think I made an attempt to map it and turn it into an adventure to run my friends through - though I could be thinking of the book with the frost giant and white dragon on the cover.

  2. I enjoyed the read. Sounds like good, innocent fun. Public libraries are such exciting places, more so as a kid. The breathing rainbows reminds me of this:


  3. I wonder if it might be a good idea to try adapting some of these books into "real" (less kiddie) D&D adventures? I kind of tried once for Dungeon of Dread, but I was also trying to be as faithful to the book as possible. Maybe I should have just been inspired by it and changed some things...

  4. I loved this book when I was a kid! (especially Fox and Owl--whom I enjoyed in PoP too!) I just liked the fact that you were kind of responsible for more than your own life...

    I actually managed to reacquire most of these books through ebay a little while ago, haven't really given any of them a thorough re-read yet

    great series spotlight--thanks for keeping these in the public consciousness!

    (oh--where's your radio show?)


  5. Thanks. I've still got two more to read that I bought second hand a while back. Just been too busy to read them. Then I'll likely move on to some of the CYOA and Wizards, Warriors & You books I've got.

    My radio show was cancelled back last October. I need to edit my intro box, I guess. :D

  6. This was a real fun one. I remember really liking the wide variety of situation in this one. I also remember Fox and Owl being pretty darn funny in this one (or at least less annoying that in Pillars). When you described the kid dilemma with the stones and borrowing the book from the library, I laughed out loud. I had the same experience. I ended up buying the book a couple years later, and was so so tempted to cut out the "stones" but ended up just tracing them again.

    Thanks for this fun trip down memory lane.