January 23, 2017
Personal Memories of the Lone Wolf Series
This part two of a tribute to Joe Dever. You can read part one here. In this post I’d like to describe some of my own personal experiences encountering Lone Wolf (LW) over the decades.
I first encountered LW in fourth grade when a friend of mine came to school with a copy of LW5 Shadow on the Sand. Of my friends, I was the one with enough patience to sit down and read the rules and learn how to actually read and play. So my friend loaned me the book for the day and, reading only during breaks, it took me most of the school day to learn the rules. By the time I started reading the actual story and had arrived at the first encounter where you are surrounded by the Sharnazim warriors in Barakeesh, the school day was at an end and I had to very reluctantly return the book to my friend. Talk about a cliffhanger! Suffice to say, though, that that tiny taste had whet my appetite for much, much more.
I told my parents about my friend’s “Lone Wolf book” and honestly probably never stopped talking about it. That Christmas, they bought me LW1 and LW2. I was thrilled and thus began my journey in earnest. Interestingly, my parents made the understandable mistake of buying me book 2 of the Grey Star series (The Forbidden City) and not book 2 of the Lone Wolf series (Fire on the Water). I still to this day can clearly remember laying on the carpet at my grandmother Dorothy’s house during Christmas time reading The Forbidden City and loving it so much. That same Christmas, my uncle Dudley helped me successfully complete LW1 for the first time. At the end of LW1 I saw that the next book was titled Fire on the Water and so I realized there was another LW2 out there that I needed to find. And so began my regular treasure hunts at the local bookstores.
Soon I was flying through the books, this time (finally) in proper sequence. My friends and I were trading books so that we could all read them. Also at that time we tried playing the Interactive Telephone Adventures. One could call a local phone number and listen as it read you some text, then you would select your action by pressing the button that corresponded with the choice you’d like to take. At the time this was quite an exciting idea, but unfortunately it charged by the minute so our parents asked us to stop doing it.
Fast-forward a few months and I had caught up with all of the latest publications of LW. I was thoroughly hooked now. I can still remember when LW10, LW11, and LW12 first hit the shelves upon their initial publications in 1987-88. I quickly bought and consumed those and to this day those are three of my all-time favorites in the series, especially LW10. Around this time the Magnamund Companion also hit the shelves, and this was a book that I would spend many hours pouring over. I loved the easter eggs that were placed in the LW stories for owners of the Companion, including both spoken and written phrases in Giak that you could translate (and thus learn useful clues) if you had the lexicon provided in the Companion.
The Grand Master series (LW13 – LW20) finished its publication run when I was in high school. I had thought that would be the end. But I was pleasantly intrigued when the 20th book ended with a teaser (as they all do) of the title of the next story: Voyage of the Moonstone. There’s more?! I couldn’t wait… but wait I did, patiently, for that book to arrive on the bookshelves. It never did. And so I supposed LW really was at an end. And therefore I went back and re-read the 20 book series from beginning to end. Again. And again. And again. I had all of the books virtually memorized by the time I was finished with high school.
It wasn’t until my junior year of college and the advent of the world wide web that I one day thought, “Hey, I wonder if there’s any LW content out there on the web?” I did a web search (Google’s search engine didn’t exist yet but we had Alta Vista or something similar) and, to my shock and amazement, LW21 really did exist, as did 7 more LW books that I’d never heard of! They had been published only in the UK, which is why I’d never seen them in the US. Furthermore, I learned that all of the Grand Master books (LW13-20) that I’d read in the US were abridged versions, and that there were much longer versions with many more scenes available that had also been published only in the UK. Oh the joy of the discovery… there was still so much more LW to consume!
Unfortunately, even with the advent of the web and eBay, finding some of those books was quite hard. To this day I’ve never acquired an original copy of LW22 (for some reason that is the rarest one). I had to wait for Project Aon to publish the content online before I could even read LW22. And I had to wait for The Collector’s Edition before I could finally, in 2015, some 30 years after starting to read the series, own a print copy of LW22.
Speaking of Project Aon, that was the next big step in LW after I’d finished college and moved to Austin for graduate school. For those that don’t know, in 1999 Joe Dever granted the rights to his readers to distribute the content of his books online for free, and so began a community effort to publish (and along the way, make some minor fixes to) the LW series online. This was just one of the many ways in which Mr. Dever was so generous to his fans. You can read all 28 LW books right now! Just head on over to Project Aon.
I participated in some of the early efforts of Project Aon but my contribution was minor. Most of all I did really enjoy finding such a large online community of LW fans around the world and I spent a great deal of time reminiscing, hypothesizing, and imagining about the world of Magnamund via the Project Aon forums. Until that time, I had felt like — with the exception of my elementary school friends — a relatively lone soul, much like Lone Wolf himself, on a solo journey of loving the experience of the LW book series. I was so happy to find so many likeminded souls online in the Project Aon forums.
How were you introduced to LW and what are your first memories of the LW series? Were you, like me and other Americans, oblivious that the series had gone on without us in the UK, and if so, how did you find out about the New Order series? Please let us know in the comments below! And if you are/were a Project Aon participant please let us know that too (perhaps I already know you!).