Written by Robin Waterfield, artwork by Russ Nicholson
So far I've been rather down on Mr Waterfield's work. I was, as I'm sure you'll remember, fairly unimpressed with Rebel Planet and Deathmoor. But I do have stronger memories about this book, because this is the ones that I actually owned as a kid. Specifically, this is one that I got at Hamleys on a holiday to London. That, and a very nice comic version of The Hobbit, which I still own to this day, and which is far far far superior to the recent film version. Having said that, so was the Rankin Bass animated film version. But I digress.
I also remember that I'd specifically been keeping an eye open for this book, and that it was either meant to be very difficult or very important, I'm not sure. Either way, it was one that I had been looking for, and I was glad to have found a copy of it. Nowadays though, I'm not so sure. All I know is that it has a very basic system (which I like) and a quest involving preventing an evil sorceress creating an army of golems. Or something.
So, as the ruler of the local kingdom, I'm asked to set my armies to defend the... oh no, of course not. No, I need to go off alone on yet another dangerous quest. Why am I doing this? Actually, the book does explain this. I've been advised to go off on my own with just a pointy sword and shiny hat, on the suggestion of my court mage, Ifor Tynin. Remember that name, I'll be discussing it later.
Y'know, you'd think that if the lake had a kraken in it, people wouldn't only notice it, but would do something about it. Even if that something was to just set it up as a tourist attraction. Anyway, slaying the kraken is such an impressive feat that the spirits of all the stupid sods he's killed rise from the dead to thank me and offer me assistance later on in the adventure. I wonder if my first character is among the group. Anyway, as much as I want an army of the undead to command, they insist on waiting until just the right section in the book before they'll do anything.
As the mist lifts, I find my way to an old abandoned house. At least, I think it's abandoned, but while I sniff around the place, search through all the boxes and eat their dinner and generally do my best three bears impression, the inhabitant of the house finds me. Rather than being upset, he explains that he knew that I was coming because the voices in his head warned him about me. He then gives me a royal scepter which he seems to have been keeping hidden in the house. It's all quite confusing, and I back away out of the house very discreetly before turning away and running like all hell.
By the time I get to the lord's keep, it's quite late in the evening and he invites me to join him in the banquet hall, where I have some dinner. Meanwhile, the guards inform me that the belongings that they were storing in my room have been stolen by orcs. Wow, what a safe and reputable keep this lord manages! I head off alone to follow the thieves, following their trail, only to soon be surrounded by them and chopped apart. In retrospect, I should probably have waited for the lord to give me a guard or two.
I'd normally be happy to do a quick replay of this book, and continue from where I was, but I'm a little bit rushed at the moment and just don't have the time. This book is much better than some of Waterfield's other works, and I rather enjoyed it. There's nothing really special about it, but it's a solid enough piece. Except for one thing...
Of course, it's fairly infamous in Fighting Fantasy knowledge that you need to turn to paragraph forty, because you run the first and surname together to create I-forty-nin. Which seems so simple and easy, except... that because, when I was a kid and actually did get to that part, the 'nin' part of the name completely threw me off, and left me turning to paragraph 49.
Yes, I was that stupid.
(If you've enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Justin MacCormack's two bestselling collections of horror stories - "Return to 'Return to Oz'", "Cthulhu Doesn't Dance" and the young adult coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a gay teenage zombie". His newest novel, "Twilight of the Faerie", is available now)