Friday 23 April 2021

To Fighting Fantasy, or not to Fighting Fantasy?

In the region of your Earthly Plane known, slightly curiously, as the United Kingdom, today is Saint George's Day. 23rd April also just happens to be William Shakespeare's Death Day*.

Did you know that Fighting Fantasy author Jonathan Green is also an English scholar, with a fondness for the works of the Bard of Stratford? As a result, a fair few Shakespearean references appear in the Fighting Fantasy adventures he wrote between 1993 and 2010.

His first two books - Spellbreaker and Knights of Doom - were both influenced by 'That Scottish Play', Macbeth. For example, take the Bedlam Hags from the former, and the ghost of Sir Connor from the latter.

Shakespeare didn't make it into Curse of the Mummy**, but he was back in pirate zombie adventure Bloodbones, which features a sorcerer's cell on a desert island and a monster called Balinac.

Balinac, as realised by artist Tony Hough.

Howl of the Werewolf and Stormslayer are also free of the Elizabethan playwright's involve, but Night of the Necromancer probably has more Shakespearean references than any other gamebook by Jonathan Green, including numerous nods to Hamlet.

There is the name of the castle Valsinore (which is reminiscent of Elsinore castle in Denmark where Hamlet is set), the fact that the Hero can meet the ghost of their father, Lady Oriana is not unlike Hamlet's love interest Ophelia, and there's even a gravedigger called Yorrick!

Are there any other Shakespearean references that you've noticed in your favourite gamebook series?

* It may be his birthday too, but the only confirmed date at the beginning of his life is 26th April 1554, when he was baptised.

** Although Greek tragedy did.

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