This is a book that is extremely hard to judge objectively.
After Avenger was left sprawling in that web in the Rift for the better part of 30 years, any halfway plausible conclusion would have been (and was) eagerly accepted by the fanbase as being preferable to such an unsatisfactory cliffhanger.
So firstly, I want to make very clear that it is obvious (in a positive way) that this gamebook was a labour of love. It was crafted quite clearly to be a love letter to those fans who had held onto their dissatisfaction with the previous cliffhanger ending to the extent that, in adulthood, they wished for a plausible continuation of the story.
With respect to the Smith / Thomson duo, this book stands in marked contrast to Inferno!. Whereas Inferno was (to be frank) the final product of a team that was running out of gas, Redeemer! was a carefully crafted creation (alliteration ahoy!) of someone who truly wished to craft a satisfactory conclusion to the saga.
This wish has carried through to the obvious desire to throw in a multitude of nods to previous ‘high points’ of the series. Villains from the previous books all got their moment to shine, even to the point that it strained credulity.
That, to a degree, even reached the point where suspension of disbelief was endangered. While Tyutchev, Cassandra and Thaum were clearly placed in the Rift by the last book, running into opponents such as Everyman, Honoric, Foxglove and so forth began to feel forced. Speaking purely personally, I probably would have rathered a couple of loose ends left hanging, rather than straining to such a degree that Avenger began to feel like Forrest Gump, running over the course of one adventure into pretty much every important person in the world of Orb.
In terms of difficulty, this book was crafted extremely well. Although it only took your humble (!) author only two tries to complete, I get the feeling that this was partially the product of lucky choices / dice rolls, and that many would have been repeatedly frustrated by pitfalls scattered throughout the book.
In summary, I thought Redeemer! was a worthy continuation / conclusion to the series, and self-evidently the work someone who wrote it as a fan, for the fans.
And the Black Widow can stew, presumably furiously, in the Rift for a very, very long time.
Thank you, David Walters.
Next – Book 0, Ninja!