This gamebook is the third one in the series and the first one not set entirely in a dungeon (unless you count the "you're at the front gate" beginning of Citadel of Chaos as meaning it's not set entirely in a dungeon, which I don't). It is unique in that, if you reach the village of Stonebridge without finding both halves of the hammer, you Test your Luck. Failure means automatic death, but success means you, in your current condition and with your current equipment, get transported back to the beginning of the forest. This, combined with the gamebook's lack of any acknowledgement that you might have been in an area before, could lead to a number of ridiculous results, including:
1) You can arrive at Stonebridge the second time with two copies of the hammer handle.
2) Mysteriously, every enemy you've fought has come back to life and forgotten all about you on your second trip through the forest. Even more mysteriously, you've forgotten all about them. The Shape Changer's revelation that it is a Shape Changer, not a goblin, will take you completely by surprise--twice. (Or as many times as your Luck holds out...)
Annoyingly many of the choices in this gamebook consist of choosing between compass points, with no hint of which way you should go. Insta-death conditions are rare and generally mean you've made a serious and at least somewhat forseeable mistake, but this gamebook is widely considered poor quality.
You begin with a Potion of Skill, Strength, or Fortune, one dose only, and ten Meals, which you can eat any time you're not actually in combat. You are armed with a sword, dressed in leather armor, and have a backpack. Before the first entry has concluded, you have 30 Gold Pieces and a map, which informs you that you are going from the south edge of the map to the north edge of the map over the course of the gamebook, and in between there is a forest. Also a river, at the midpoint of the forest. Very helpful, I'm sure.
Like some gamebooks I've written walkthroughs for previously, this book makes certain assumptions about the protagonist's personality. Unlike, say, Vault of the Vampire or City of Thieves, your character is presented as both antisocial and mercenary.