Friday, 31 July 2020

Blast from the Past! Temple of Terror

Today on the Earthly Plane has been the hottest day of the year so far, by quite a long way. In fact, you could say it's felt as hot as the Desert of Skulls, talking of which...

The majority of Ian Livingstone’s Temple of Terror (FF14, first published in 1985) takes place in the waterless wastes of the aforementioned desert, although the book begins with the wizard Yaztromo (who first appeared in The Forest of Doom) hiring the hero to thwart the plans of the sorcerer Malbordus, the so-called ‘Storm Child’. The evil sorcerer’s power is reaching its zenith, and all he needs to lead his army of conquest across Allansia are five Dragon artefacts that lie hidden within the lost city of Vatos.

Vatos was named after a small beach resort in Corfu where Livingstone had holidayed more than once, hence it being used as the name of a lost city swallowed by sand. As well as its desert setting, the book is particularly memorable for its introduction of the lethal Messenger of Death.

The memorable Messenger of Death, by Bill Houston.

Temple of Terror was the only FF gamebook to be illustrated by Bill Houston. The cover was painted by ‘80s fantasy art legend Chris Achilleos, the second time he contributed a cover to the main series.

“I was dealing with Ian,” Achilleos recalls, “and he called me and said, ‘I’m going to leave it to you to design me the creature for this new book I’m writing. I’m going to tell you the scene and you come up with the creature, because you probably don’t need guidance on this from someone like me.’ And I said, ‘That sounds great, yeah. Then you can describe it from my painting.’

“It was a guardian of this gate and it was a desert scene – a city half buried under sand – so I designed this creature that lies in wait, buried under the sand... It was something I’d seen in a wildlife programme, these desert snakes that hide in the sand and just have their eyes out and then they pounce on you. So I imagined the same creature sort of lying in wait for someone to try and pass the gate. I drew that and he was delighted with it. In fact he bought the original from me.”

Serpent Guard, by Chris Achilleos.

Did you know...?
The working title for Temple of Terror, which appeared in an advertisement printed in the back of the first edition of Sorcery! Book 3, The Seven Serpents, was Dragon Master.

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