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Les Messagers du Temps (The Messengers of Time) is a French Gamebook series in four volumes. It is written by some guy supposedly called James Campbell but who seems to actually be Jean-François Ménard (famous for translating the Harry Potter books in French); the first book came out in 1987. It was marketed as a translated work from English in order to sell better (considering that the popular gamebooks at the time were British works).
The plot is about The Prince and The Princess of Time, the twin children of Chronada, Queen of Time, who rules over the Kingdom of Time in the center of the Earth where people live forever, away from the human world.
Chronada having to leave the Kingdom for other duties, she decides that one of her two children will replace her. In order to choose which one, she sends them on a mission: free the Messengers of Time, four citizens of the Kingdom of Time who are prisoners on the Earth's surface, in different places and time periods. Those people are Gayok the Brave in Middle-Age France, Hensock the Crazy in Paris before the French Revolution, Oclock the Good in the United States during the Civil War and Valiocka the Fair in California in 1989.
Gameplay is directly based on the Fighting Fantasy series, with a special system for hit points lost in battle. There are also moments where you can or you are forced to rely on pure hard luck, by choosing a card among others to cut out of the book.
You can choose to play either as the Prince or the Princess of Time, which has very little influence on gameplay but more on the dialogue.
List of the books:
- Le Carillon de la Mort (The Chimes of Death)
- Le Masque de Sang (The Blood Mask)
- L'Homme au Cheval de Brume (The Man on the Fog Horse)
- Objectif: Apocalypse (Objective: Apocalypse)
This series provides examples of:
- Action Girl: The Princess of Time can get her touch of action as well as her brother, and doesn't enjoy sexist remarks from men who tell her that she'd better be washing laundry instead of carrying weapons (no, really).
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The Prince or the Princess of Time will tell Joan of Ark to go fight the English and the Parisians to take over the Bastille prison.
- Berserk Button: Furyos The Short absolutely hates being made fun of his height, and will turn very violent if this happens.
- Catch Phrase: "Chaussette à poule!" by Hensock. The funny thing here is that it is the literal translatation of his name in French.
- Cool Horse: The Fog Horse in the third book is a horse spirit who can point you the right path to take.
- Covers Always Lie: The cover of the first book is a serious offender. You never fight a giant black monster who catches you in its tongue while you battle naked with just a helmet and a sword as a dark cloaked figure watches.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Peter Medduzz could use the water-multiplying crystals to save many lives and also become a very, very rich man adored forever by history. He uses it to cause floods and destroy a lot of stuff.
- Damsel in Distress: kind of subverted, since three of the four persons to rescue are men.
- Drunken Master: Hicboum the Mad, who is The Dragon to the Big Bad in the fourth book, is constantly drunk but this makes him even more of a fierce fighter, one of the most powerful enemies in the series.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: of course, there is the Princess of Time, but there's hardly any "Princess-ness" about her.
- Half-Identical Twins: the Prince and the Princess of Time are twins and are described as looking exactly alike. Despite this, the Princess often gets compliment about her beauty.
- I Am Not Shazam: The "Messengers of Time" from the title do not refer to the heroes but to the people the heroes must rescue.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: this is LampshadeHanged in the beginning of the first book. The Prince or the Princess of Time can search a house, pick up all the items he/she wants inside and then suddenly the owner sneaks on your back and says "So, have you found enough to make you happy?" But he will be very friendly about this and allow the hero to keep his findings.
- Lethal Chef: literal one. Mâchegras is a cook (working for the first Big Bad) who makes sausages out of any kind of meat, including rats and humans.
- Licensed Sexist: a lot of characters when you play as the Princess of Time.
- Mad Scientist: Mimol the half-paralyzed monk makes hybrid creatures by sewing two different animal parts together, Gouttard creates a chemical that will age thousands of soldiers and Peter Meduzz designs a special crystal that can multiply water molecules.
- The Wild West: setting of the third book.