Beating The Challenge - 30 Years On

Series, Teams, History, Behind the scenes etc. - all discussed here.
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DuxBellorum
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Beating The Challenge - 30 Years On

Post by DuxBellorum » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:43 pm

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1988 saw the start of the second series of Knightmare and the publication of the first Knightmare book, Can You Beat The Challenge?

30 years on it is still one of my most favourite books.

This is not so much a review as it is a personal reflection, but for those who are unfamiliar with the Knightmare books, these were split in to two sections. First, a Novella, giving us Treguard's backstory and further adventures in subsequent books and the second half of the book was a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' style trip in to the Dungeon.

Can You Beat The Challenge? Gives us the story of how Treguard was actually English nobility, a son of a Baron no less and how Knightmare Castle was actually Dunshelm, his ancestral home in the north of England.

His family being slaughtered by a rival Baron, Treguard becomes a mercenary hiring out his sword across Europe and fighting in the Crusades. A chance encounter with a dying warrior reminds him of his heritage and he then vows to redeem himself and reclaim his birthright.

Along the way, Treguard encounters many characters, some of them legendary, including Robin Hood and his men of Sherwood and possibly Merlin during a dream sequence.

Much like Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe, the Treguard of the books is different to the Treguard of the series, but in other ways they are both very much one and the same, whether we picture Sean Bean or of course our wonderful Hugo Myatt.

So why is this book so special to me 30 years on?

I have an obsession with Dark Age and early Medieval history as well as Arthur, both the mythical King and the historical 6th century warrior.

I credit Knightmare almost exclusively for igniting my passion for history. Can You Beat The Challenge? especially lit the touchpaper as it introduced me to the Picts, the Danes, William II is also mentioned, so even at the young age of 7, as I was when Can You Beat The Challenge? came out, I wanted to know who these people were.

30 years on I still obsessively absorb as much information as I can.

On another personal note, my own family has its roots in 13th century Cumbria, Northumberland and Yorkshire, so it's nice to be able to have a connection to Knightmare country.

I like to re-read Can You Beat The Challenge? about once a year. As you can see from the picture I still have my original copy and it has been very well read over the years.

Although the story was of course written for children and teenagers, it still holds up rather well and it is the closest of the books to the TV series.

Tim Child and Dave Morris did a truly wonderful job and although the books run parralel to as opposed to being a part of the series, they open up the Knightmare universe wonderfully and Can You Beat The Challenge? Perhaps does this the best out of all the subsequent titles.

So thank you Knightmare, and thank you Tim Child and Dave Morris for writing Can You Beat The Challenge? and firing my imagination that 30 years on, is still just as big.
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JamesA
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Re: Beating The Challenge - 30 Years On

Post by JamesA » Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:28 pm

Great write-up!

I've notified Dave about this post on his Fabled Lands website. Hopefully he'll come and take a look at what you've written himself.

FOLLOW-UP EDIT: Dave has since responded to the comment I made.
James Aukett
Creator of the Knightmare: 25th Anniversary Documentary

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DuxBellorum
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Re: Beating The Challenge - 30 Years On

Post by DuxBellorum » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:25 pm

Wow, that IS an honour! :D :D :D

Thank you for showing him my write up!

I aim to do retrospectives on a couple of the other books as well.

Also have it in my mind to tackle the board game and the computer games at some point soon too...

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