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 😁👍
Hello fellow gamebookers. I know I promised an epic gamebook but between kids, decorating and other duties I have been pressed for time. BUT! Fear not good people, for to sate your appetite for Jamness, I have just published a little filler of a book with the most basic of mechanics. If you would like to read more CLICK HERE!!
Fellow Fighting Fantasy fans… Well if I haven’t gone and written my own gamebook! Ok, it isn’t big and it isn’t clever, but it should be great fun on a nostalgic level. Keep your eye open on Amazon from Monday 17th August.
I’ve done a little bit of proof reading and play testing for Mark Lain in the past, including the mini’s in Destiny’s Role book 0. Book 1 on the other hand is an absolute epic by comparison. Here we have a single adventure a whopping 500 references long with three artists on board, Alan Langford for the gorgeous cover, the ineffable Malcolm Barter on cartography and Mike Tenebrae for the internal illustrations. Having backed this on Kickstarter my likeness has been included in a very prestigious place in the book. Must admit, Mike did exceptionally well as I’m not easy to photograph let alone draw.
Anyway back to the story. The premise is to hunt down and destroy the Redcap and her witchly associates before her power becomes far too strong she can take over the land. And boy is it a tough ride. You need to make sure you get as many objects and provisions as possible as you will be in so many situations where these will be useful, not to mention the combats in Mistress Of Sorrows come thick and fast. You’re surely guaranteed not to complete it first time. I stopped counting at my twelfth death, most of them in fights.
Mark has clearly researched a lot on the subject matter, and evidence of this is none so obvious if you manage to get to Covan. This particular part of the book is my favourite area and the descriptive of events therein has writing in a style suitable enough for a film screenplay. This surpasses the authorship of other gamebook writers that have been in the game for years, just like Victoria Hancox did with Nightshift.
Whilst I managed to complete the quest and slay the Bigbad, she took me with her and I succumbed to her final hex. (So didn’t manage to meet myself lol) I hear a third book is in the works as well, so soon after Mistress Of Sorrows and I’m deliberately holding back credit so I can be part of that Kickstarter also when it comes about. If you don’t own Destiny’s Role books, it’s high time you did as you’re missing out on the cream of modern gamebooks crop. 10/10
I’m proud to announce my good friend and author Mark Lain has launched a follow up to his Destiny’s Role gamebook on Kickstarter. With a colour cover art by the legendary Alan Langford and interior art by modern illustrator Mike Tenebrae, you can help fund this amazing interactive project by CLICKING HERE.
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.
Ok so im a couple of days late because I didn’t think I could really be bothered to talk about this. However, scholastic have released the cover art of Ian Livingstone’s brand new FF book, Port Of Peril. I first started reading FF during the greenspine era around 1988, and as such have been weened on the realistic lifelike strokes of such artists as Les Edwards, Ian McCaig, Jim Burns and a whole load more. The new cover art is somewhat more cartoonish, with bold colours rather than blended and angled lines rather than curved. Such is the style of the artists Robert M Ball who has taken on the project. They somewhat remind me of the old Tunnels & Trolls book coverart.
A lot of fans, myself included will take time to adjust to this entirely new look with the FF facebook threads being something of a debate on the matter. After a bit of research however I have found out kids today are favouring this new art format over the old. At least with one cover artist all the books will look consistently designed. Another nice touch Ian himself let slip is there are no more greenspines they have been upgraded to a very eye catching gold foil, as have the dagger logo and title. Who doesn’t like gold right? Apart from maybe the crap Cybermen off Doctor Who!
So as a purist, I’m going to miss the old cover art and swallow a rather bitter pill. But as for the series, I think its got a tough challenge ahead levering kids off of video games but if it works then the future of FF and likelihood of more new adventures will be in good stead. It’s a good time for us to all test for LUCK.