September has seen the release of Fighting Fantasy game book Assassins Of Allansia by the Guv himself, Ian Livingstone.
Assassins Of Allansia
I recently picked up my hardback copy of the book at the Fighting Fantasy Fest 3 from the authors son, Jack. I mentioned my weirdo number 44, and asked if that copy was available as all 400 copies were numbered. He dug it out for me also mentioning it’s Ian’s weirdo number as well. Nice. Anyway Ian signed it later on with a personal message.
So, with all that aside… what do i think to this entry in the popular gamebook series?
It’s a lovely adventure to come back after the series sending up that was Gates Of Death and the fair but fatally flawed Port Of Peril. I’m old school FF and thus have noticed that this and especially Gates seem to have alternative lore to the Fighting Fantasy book many of us have read. The DECAYER in Assassins for example, is nothing like the undead looking creature inked by Tim Sell in Out Of The Pit. SEE HERE. We are also getting Earth christian names now, like Florence, Henry and Samuel. This isn’t detrimental to the book in itself but it is a thorn in an old school fans side. Makes it feel like there’s a dimension crack and reality is seeping into our beloved Titan. Hold on, 20GPs to stay on a dangerous island for how long? You can find that just bumming around for a day.
The art by Robert Ball is somewhat nicer than Vlado Krizans and given Scholastic seem to avoid the more detailed illustrations of yesteryear in favour for dummied down jagged angular repro’s I finally feel a sense of actually being on Titan again. Not much, just a bit.
I think we need to stop comparing what FF was and accept it is going to be different now a bit like any other series reboot. (Doctor Who, James Bond etc). Definitely a Livingstone book. Youll know what that means after a couple of nights on the island. The story itself is packed full of dangers and the Guv has gone out of his way to make you not want to try things out in case it causes stat penalties. Also, you could call this FF5and a half as it takes place between City Of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon. Not to mention an appearance of a familiar much loved character from one of them…and I dont mean Azzur or Sukumvit.
Overall, if we brush away the old school cobwebs and altering Titan lore, this is the best since the Scholastic FF revival. I hope more come out like this rather than the previous couple.
For about 23 years now I have been toying with the idea of getting tattoo’s based on the amazing illustrations from the Fighting Fantasy game book series. Well this month I finally went beserk. Starting off with the Iain McCaig filler illustration of the villainous Zanbar Bone from the book City Of Thieves.
Fighting fantasy Zanbar Bone City of Thieves
The tattooist did such an amazing job barely three weeks later I nuked some credit and had two more done. The first being Martin McKenna’s unused filler intended for FF40, Dead Of Night. Puffin rejected it though because of the religious iconography. Cowards.
Fighting fantasy dead of night
The next would be John Blanches filler from the Sorcery series which I simply call sun-orc. Sorcery was the epic four book Fighting Fantasy quest which introduced me to the entire series.
Fighting Fantasy content was going to be narrowed down here and focused on my FF site, but as my internet is down until the Sky repair man can get here I couldn’t help but add this to my blog via my phone. Ian Livingstone has been at the quills again and brought us a new Fighting Fantasy title in the form of Assassins Of Allansia.
Now isn’t that an arresting title? This new gamebook of the beloved series will be released on September 5th but is available on preorder at Amazon HERE.
The Fighting Fantasy game book series has played a massive part in my life, to the point i need some space back here on my blog. So I have finally taken it upon myself to build my own fan site dedicated to this 80s phenomenon. I’m still in the midst of optimising and adding content but I’m sure you’ll agree it isn’t looking too bad. CLICK HERE to take a peek.
Today see’s the launch of a brand new Kickstarter by renowned gamebook author Jonathan Green.
“TWAS – The Krampus Night Before Christmas is a brand new adventure gamebook (a multi-path book, very much in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks), inspired by the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, by Clement Clarke Moore, as well as other winter- or festive-themed classics, such as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and John Masefield’s The Box of Delights. It will be the fifth title in the ongoing ACE Gamebooks series.”
There are many reasons to back this exciting new project. From having your name credited in the book, to being an official play tester. To check out all the other rewards, CLICK HERE
The #FightingFantasy audio dramas increase this week with four new thrilling adventures by Fox Yason Music Productions. FF classics Citadel Of Chaos, Forest Of Doom, Deathtrap Dungeon and Creature Of Havoc have all been given the audible upgrade due to a successful Kickstarter project earlier this year and come together in a lovely box set or via MP3 download.
Jam with his new FF CDs
Each adventure follows the adventures of heroes from the first CD The Warlock Of Firestop Mountain and appears to slightly predate the efforts of the hero that actually completes the adventure (the successful readers of the actual Fighting Fantasy gamebook series). Vocal talents such as Rachel Atkins, Richard Rycroft and Lisa Bowerman are also joined by Charlie Higson of The Fast Show fame and author of The Enemy book series and the latest Fighting Fantasy gamebook Gates Of Death.
All in all these are great little adventure skits which fans of the series will love, with the only real downside being they seem a little short i.e. when you consider the likes of Baron Sukumvit’s labyrinth being navigated rather quickly, with only a couple of traps and three or four monsters. That’s my only personal gripe but then consider the stories are well thought out and the scripts well written. I especially love the bitchy dialogue between Vale Moonwing and Lady Lucretia. I also enjoy the way all spell incantations pay homage to the old Di Maggio spell of the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, with basically a word associated with the spells effect said backwards then the casters’ name after it. You can tell the likes of David Smith and Violet Addison knew the lore of Fighting Fantasy before starting this project and they’ve handled it beautifully to give us a wonderful expansion on the Fighting Fantasy range. May their STAMINA never fail! To grab yourself a copy visit HERE
Revered author Jonathan Green invites you to take part in the funding of the fourth book in his ACE Gamebook series, Beowulf Beastslayer. Illustrated by the hugely popular artist Russ Nicholson, this adventure will see the reader take on the role of the legendary warrior Beowulf. The reader will make the choices in the book of how the story progresses: which goes to fight, which treasures to take etc.
Beowulf Beastslayer illustration by Russ Nicholson.
To take part in the funding of this exciting project, backers who donate from £5 onwards will be rewarded with items such as prints of the illustrations, their name credited in the book, special edition hardbacks and much much more.
If you are a lover of books then this is just for you! CLICK HERE to learn more about this unmissable project!
From the quills of Mark Lain comes this delightful quadrilogy of not just one but FOUR playable adventure stories. A must for all gamebook readers!
@FightingFantasy – Gates Of Death. The second brand new Fighting Fantasy adventure game book released after Port Of Peril in 2017s Scholastic relaunch of the series. So how was it for me?
Me after finishing Gates Of Death by Charlie Higson
After an excruciating wait from Fighting Fantasy Fest 2 up until today I finally managed to tread through the latest adventure set in Allansia. Charlie Higson of The Fast Show fame had been a fan of Fighting Fantasy for years, and has graced us with Gates Of Death, his debut epic for the series. He was invited by FF co-series creator Ian Livingstone to guest write, and has made history as the first guest writer to have his own name on the front cover of an FF book. The celebrity essence may lend the series some pulling power.
Now, you may already know that I cannot stand the internal art scholastic has chosen for these books.
Little better than cheap grayscale slap dash comic styles, and this book is no exception. It’s a shame because the beautiful realistic illustrations in the classic series is what attracted me to FF in the first place. Thankfully, Higson’s writing hits the nail on the head and saves the book with fast paced scenarios and cleverly interwoven snares for readers to get netted up in. Multi FF author Jonathan Green is said to have coached Higson and this is apparent as Gates Of Death contains a couple of similar elements to Greens work Night Of The Necromancer, although this may be coincidence. But then the lore dies.
One thing I noticed is the fighting aspect is really kept to a minimum. You could always use an alternative to get yourself out of a rut with opponents. I think I completed the adventure with only four actual melee combats. There is plenty of magic to be found and used in this adventure, three pairs of magic shoes for example. I guess he likes giving you plenty of chances to win as you only need one pair!
FF is now meant to be aimed at a younger demographic than before, although this book introduces the words ‘bum’ and ‘farting’ into the FF vocab. Not to mention a mutant with two faces on it’s bottom actually illustrated! While it’s clearly meant to bring humour it seems to cheapen the feel of the serious quest.
Overall this is a grand adventure plot, much better than the flawed ho hum badly named Port Of Peril (which barely has anything to do with the Port in question, you’re there longer in this book) …but an uneducated debut for Higson to the series. He could easily do better. 4/10
Me and Charlie Higson at FFF2 – 2017
So Scholastic have set the next six #FightingFantasy books into motion. Another five revivals and a brand new title, The Gates Of Death, should be joining us around April. Whilst not many of the die hard fans appreciated the cover art of the first six releases last year, at least they was all done by the same artist and looked generic. Unfortunately we are now met with a change in design. It’s not good.
Though one may argue the artwork is slightly more in line with the classic series (I said slightly) , it has been confined to a tiny circle in the middle of the page with about 80% the rest just a single colour broken by white lines. I’m pretty certain this is a money saving device. When you consider the full cover of art we had in the 80s – 00s this isn’t progress nor very eye catching. With the last six covers Scholastic gave the excuse they was using this type of art to appeal to an era of video gaming children. So why the change? I guess they’re admitting they was wrong and the fans we’re right and now going down the cheapest route tasting sour grapes.
The Gates Of Death will be the first ‘presented’ written FF adventure since Jonathan Green’s wonderful Howl Of The Werewolf, and from the look of it Charlie Higson (of The Fast Show fame) will be the first non series creator to have his name boldly displayed on the front cover. Prestigious that may be, but is this a marketing twist to attract his own fans to buy this new quest? Either way, I am grateful for another new story and hope it goes down well with fans expectations and spurs Scholastic to employ other guest writers too such as the aforementioned Jonathan Green, Dave Morris, Jamie Thomson etc etc
Jam meets Charlie Higson at FFF2