________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover Petrified World. (Determine Your Destiny, No. 1).

Piotr Brynczka. Illustrated by Janice Blaine.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2008.
192 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-11-1.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Ronald Hore.

** /4


The forest is very deep and dense. It is actually so dense that in many spots the sun can hardly reach the earth, giving the forest a very sinister aspect. You keep walking towards the North, searching for a small and narrow cave. "I never expected to look for a cave in such a forest," you say to yourself. "I hope I am walking in the right direction." A sudden cracking noise behind you makes you quickly turn around. Not far from you, you notice an adorable marmot eating berries from a bush. You smile at the beautiful creature and resume your walk toward the North, reassured that the marmot is not an enemy. Nevertheless, the sense of discomfort you felt before sticks to you like glue, omnipresent in your being.


Petrified World is a fantasy tale that allows the reader to make choices the affect how the story unfolds. The story involves a world of magic, Zaar, that is ruled by Darkblade, an evil sorcerer. The reader's task is to stop Darkblade and save Zaar. As you go through the story, you are given choices. Make the wrong choice, and you come to the "End" and die; make the correct choice, and the tale continues.

     The book opens with the backstory of you, the main character, then outlines your mission to capture and bring Darkblade to a master-wizard, Keinu, who will erase all of the tyrant's memory of himself as Darkblade and return him to his former existence. You have been trained by Tibetan monks and are not allowed to kill Darkblade. You may choose five magical arts to help you in your quest.

     The story is complete with strange creatures and enemy soldiers, battles with weapons and magic, and hidden traps set to catch the unwary. The story is broken down into 195 numbered sections. At the end of a section, the reader has one or more options. If you fail the quest, you come to "THE END." At that point, the hero is captured or dead. You can then go back to the point where you made the fatal error and try again, choosing to go down another path.

     The book also contains two pages of comments from students ages 10 to 14 who have tried the story, one page of "How to Read this Book," two pages of "Your Story" which gives the background to the hero character and two pages of "Your Mission." There are three pages of "About Darkblade" which provides the story behind the villain. The next three pages cover the available "Magical Skill" choices. The actual story is 145 pages long. There are four pages of other books issued by this publisher and two pages of biographical material on the author. Scattered throughout the text are 84 small black and white illustrations. These vary in size from half a page to just a few lines and are in a "sketch" style.

     Petrified World would appeal to the reader who enjoys a tale of magic and adventure and is in a format is similar to some role-playing video games. The story is of necessity fairly fast moving with some sections very brief at a half page. The only downside might be for someone who lacks patience as there are a couple of sections where the reader can become bogged down for quite a while trying to advance. Patience will be rewarded, but it does take time.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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