So here we have it. The sublime Rhianna Pratchett enters the Fighting Fantasy franchise with her adventure Crystal Of Storms, becoming the series’ first female author, and armed with illustrator Eva Eskalinen. So how well did the pair do through the eyes of this age old fanatic of FF? Before I sink my teeth in properly, let’s have a look at the premise. A previously uncharted area of Titan, Pangaria… made up of a cluster of floating islands. Yes, floating! With this being a new area it gives Rhianna free reign to do whatever she likes. Even her own ecosystem of creatures. Clever! And she has introduced technomancy to the world, which has been created by a race of friendly Goblins within the archipelago. This is how the islands float. Don’t bicker, we’ve had friendly ones before, Giblet, Marsh Goblins etc. So one day, one of the floaty islands crystals goes pop, and it drops into the sea, sparking your thirst for adventure. It’s a great idea and I really love Rhi’s writing, comparable to Jonathan Green’s and Ian Livingstone’s. This girl is on fire.
Eva’s art is rather reminiscent of the much panned two-dimensional work of Vlado Krizan. While there is a slight improvement, most of these illustrations belong in a fairytale book for under fives. Sorry, it’s just not a met standard given the rock album cover Gods and Hollywood storyboard artists we had before. But of course, ScholasticUK know what kids like better than the six year olds of the eighties that actually read these religiously for four decades. I could moan all day but what good would it do? This is not to slate Eva or her art, it’s great, but just mismatched to this series which used to leap from the pages and tear your face off. Incidentally, I rather liked the Shark Kin illu, old creations are floating through now. Actually, I remember Jon asking for a reminder of it’s stats in the Facebook group. Superfan Victor Cheng answered like lightening. I’ll bet that’s when it was added to the mix. Speaking of which, there’s a whole lot of JG mechanisms on loan here, from creatures and codewords to settings and humour. The latter of which can sometimes get a little excessive… (you’ll see.) There are several typos – even in the intro heading – but in all fairness typos we’re always rife in the series. A couple of plot hole refs can have you flittering around the same island all day so you need to use some common sense. (investigating smoke for example, and how did I get a gold coin out of nowhere to recharge my wings?) In a place like Pangaria, I would have expected a gazillion Bird Men characters as well. Or how come The Watch members are not this species? Would’ve made sense in a suspended habitat.
All in all, this is a good book and a clever adventure. Whilst is isn’t up there with the series greats and that isn’t an Aakor on the cover, it’s certainly a great debut albeit influenced greatly by Jonathan Green whom mentored the author. Do another one Rhianna, and consult OOTP even more 😁👍