Screw your rules! I’m breaking away from the main series of Fighting Fantasy books for a short while to pay a long overdue visit to Kakhabad, the setting for Steve Jacksons four-book epic, Sorcery!
I say long overdue for two reasons, firstly because I bought these books way back in February on eBay and secondly, because I haven’t read any of these titles before, let alone the full series. My intention with this blog was to read the books in chronological order, but I’ve already missed my opportunity, as I discussed with a reader in a comments section. The Shamutanti Hills, was the next book after City of Thieves, Cityport of Traps after Island of the Lizard King, Seven Serpents after Cavern of the Snow Witch and Crown of Kings after Talisman of Death. The Titanica Wiki has a timeline with all the book release dates –
I figured I’d sat on these books long enough now and having got through my beloved House of Hell, it was a good time to try something new. The Shamutanti Hills has of course been thrust into the public eye recently thanks to a excellent looking iOS version by Inkle, and I say ‘excellent looking‘ as I haven’t actually given it a try myself due to saving my virgin run at the series for the actual books, which I’m now suitably excited to get stuck into! I’m fairly sure that Steve Jackson has stated that the Sorcery series is his favourite of the Fighting Fantasy books too, so there’s even more reason to get it read.
My childhood memories of these books are based around how intimidating I found them, my faithful Alley Books did stock the Sorcery series amongst the other titles, I remember picking up The Shamutanti Hills and seeing the other titles in that tiny little room at the back of the shop, but these were Advanced Fighting Fantasy. That was too much for me. I was puzzled by this off-shoot from the main run of books, why were they bigger than the regular books? Why was the font so small? I left them well alone.
The nature of the ‘Advanced’ part of the name is something that has actually escaped me until today, it appears that other than the more verbose nature of the writing and that the books go over the standard 400 references the main new game mechanic is based around magic. At the back of the each book is a spells section where a vast number of spells are detailed, each with their own three letter code and some with an item requirement. You are told you must learn these codes and must not look back at the spell-book once you have begun the adventure, you need to remember the codes when it comes to the moment you want to cast a spell or face penalties. We must also remember that as this is a multi-part story, your character passes over from one book to the next.
I’ll state right now before we get going that the artwork is fantastic. John Blanche is the man responsible and it appears that his only involvement with Fighting Fantasy was the Sorcery series, which is why they look so unique, but I you’ll have to wait until we start the reading to get to see it I’m afraid!
So how do I handle these titles? I’m intending to do them back-to-back, but I may eschew an introduction for each as I have little else to say and I also don’t want to spoil too much of the story for myself by reading around the subject. And as I said earlier, they run over the 400 references of a normal Fighting Fantasy book, part four, The Crown of Kings, hits 800! Therefore, I may have to go over my typical three-part structure. I’ll try and have a little wrap-up at the end of each one though I think, but some of this I may have to play by ear.
Ok then, let’s see what actually does await me in Kakhabad…