Thursday 25 June 2020

Crystal of Storms - by Rhianna Pratchett!

Scholastic Books have announced acclaimed games writer and journalist Rhianna Pratchett as the next guest author for the bestselling Fighting Fantasy series.

Set in the iconic Fighting Fantasy world of Titan, Crystal of Storms casts the hero of the story as a member of the Sky Watch, charged with keeping the airborne archipelago of Pangaria safe. When the flying island Nimbus suddenly crashes out of the sky into the Ocean of Tempests below, the hero must battle storms and sea beasts in their mission to raise it from the deep.

For this landmark Fighting Fantasy adventure, Scholastic have taken a new approach with the cover art, in order to attract a new, younger audience to the classic gamebook series - one which many of their parents cite as getting them reading and introducing them to fantasy role-playing in the first place.

As the world’s most high-profile woman in gaming, Rhianna Pratchett is the perfect match for the series, and becomes its first ever female guest author.

"I first came to the Fighting Fantasy books as a child; reading them surreptitiously under the covers with a torch late at night," Rhianna explains. "It's been such an honour to be asked by Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson and the team at Scholastic to create a new novel for their vibrant and exciting world. My kid-self has been high-fiving my adult-self all year!

"I hope new and old fans will enjoy exploring the floating archipelago of Pangaria and its colourful, eccentric and dangerous inhabitants. I also hope that some of that enjoyment will occur surreptitiously under the covers late at night."

Crystal of Storms, illustrated by Eva Eskelinen, will be published in October 2020. Read the full press release from Scholastic here.

Friday 19 June 2020

Blast from the Past! Legend of the Shadow Warriors

This weekend it is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere of your Earthly Plane, a time when those who live close to nature call to mind the pagan spirits of the past.

Some of those pagan nature spirits made an appearance in Legend of the Shadow Warriors (FF44, copyright Stephen Hand). Published in 1991, it was Hand's first solo contribution to the Fighting Fantasy series, having co-written Dead of Night with Jim Bambra. It was illustrated by Martin McKenna, who had also worked on Dead of Night, while Terry Oakes provided the cover paiting, having done the same for the aforementioned Dead of Night.

"After much hard work, Dead of Night was finished," Stephen Hand said in an interview with "Jim and I were pleased to be immediately invited to write another book. Jim decided not to write another, so I worked on Legend of the Shadow Warriors alone.

"It was a blast. Now I had no reason, other than my own failings, not to go way over the top. I tried to create a world that I as a kid would love to have visited (albeit with armed guards) - a total Hammer Horror reality with real history and personalities. I tried to create a quest that no one had done before, and I tried to take up some serious issues... I also started to build up characters and themes that I wanted to develop over time."

Set in Gallantaria, the adventure cast the hero as a veteran of the War of the Four Kingdoms who sets out to discover whether the five ghostly figures that are putting entire villages to the sword are really the Shadow Warriors of legend.

Shadow Warriors, by Martin McKenna.

Hand’s horror movie influences – everything from Universal, Hammer and Amicus, to Spanish and Italian films and ‘80s Splatter – were even more obvious in this book, particularly with the introduction of Kauderwelsch’s Frankenstein-like Monster. The adventure is formed from a series of vignettes that give it the feeling of a long-running RPG campaign, more epic in scope, rather than just a one-off solo gamebook.

Cauldron Ring, by Martin McKenna.

The climax to the adventure remains unique out of all the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks ever published, with the hero having to forgive and heal the enemy rather than kill and destroy him.

“‘You put your arms around an old man, crying with the simple joy of being alive’ is simply the most emotionally satisfying conclusion to the series next to retrieving the Crown of Kings,” says FF fan Lin Liren.

Haggworts, by Martin McKenna.

In Legend of the Shadow Warriors, Hand had introduced the sinister Mandrakes to Fighting Fantasy – sentient plant-creatures that mimicked human beings (clearly inspired by the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

The horror of the Mandrakes, by Martin McKenna.

The is a brief cameo appearance from a Mandrake in Hand's next adventure, Moonrunner, but he fully intended to return to them in Blood of the Mandrake, which would have conclude his Old World series. But having taken a full-time job with PC games company MicroProse, Hand had less and less time to devote to his freelance work, and so sadly it was not to be.

Friday 12 June 2020 Updates

As well as preparing for your imminent Return to Firetop Mountain, the Warlock has been busy of late giving a bit of an overhaul. This is still very much a work in progress, but if you haven't seen them yet, you might want to check out the latest updates.

If there is anything you would particularly like to see on the official Fighting Fantasy website, why not leave your suggestions in the comments below?

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Return to Return to Firetop Mountain

The news is out! The first of the next tranche of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks to be published by Scholastic Books is to be Ian Livingstone's Return to Firetop Mountain!

And here's the new cover, featuring artwork by series artist Robert Ball.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

In the early 1990s, when Puffin Books were still publishing the Fighting Fantasy series, it was decided between the editorial team, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone that the release of the fiftieth gamebook would to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the publication of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

And so Ian Livingstone set about writing Return to Firetop Mountain, an adventure in which the hero would return to the eponymous mountain and encounter such legendary FF characters as Zagor the Warlock and The Forest of Doom’s guardian Gereth Yaztromo one last time. The landmark adventure was illustrated by FF fan favourite artist Martin McKenna... and the new edition of the book will feature Martin's original illustrations.

Return to Firetop Mountain will be published by Scholastic Books on 1st October, along with two other titles. Let us know what you think of the new cover in the comments below.

Friday 5 June 2020

Fighting Fantasy Fan Fiction

The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have inspired countless writers, ever since The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was first published in 1982. Some well-known and popular authors have contributed to the series over the years, including Jamie Thomson, the author of the Dirk Lloyd books, and Charlie Higson.

In the Fan Fiction chamber of the Fighting Fantasy Fan Zone dungeon you will find stories written by fans inspired by their favourite gamebooks, including Christopher Griffith's retelling of the three books in the Zagor saga.

But please be warned, if you have yet to read the gamebooks yourself, these stories contain all sorts of spoilers.

If you have a story you would like to share, you can contact the Warlock here, or via