As I mentioned in my introduction, Temple of Terror is coming on heels of some non-fantasy books, so I was very happy to be back in more familiar territory. What you get in this book is the standard adventure that we are all sucked in by, a trek across the wilds followed by a dungeon crawl with a few traders to spend some gold with along the way. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have tweaked a few things though. Perhaps we were spoiled by the rich desert survival in The Seven Serpents, but I’d have liked a little more time on the desert section. Finding the ‘lost city’ seemed like a fairly trivial accomplishment, I’d have taken a slightly shorter portion of the book in Vamos and a longer exploration of the desert being required. My coffee-stained map shows how the adventure is heavily weighted towards the dungeon section.
I had clearly missed some parts though as this interesting illustration depicts some kind of raid going on that I never encountered, a great action piece. Another gripe I had, which I suppose is a little picky, is the bad guy, Malbordus. Obviously I never ultimately got to face off with him, but his presence in the story is basically non-existent. At least in other books where you are trying to stop a bad-guy, you’re in their domain, their dungeon, their Firetop Mountain. Here we’re in Leesha’s den and we never really learn that much about her other than the fact that she likes art. It is a minor complaint, but I would have felt more compelled to find the dragon artefacts if he’d been built a little more, in-fact at times I actually forgot I was supposed to be looking for them. Having said that, the book still had a great atmosphere, the sandy ruins felt dangerous and I was enjoying picking my way through. Malbordus might have had a diminished presence, but he was filled in for by the messenger of death rather well. This fellow was one of the most memorable parts of the adventure and was a good alternative to insta-death decisions, you could sometimes gain clues as to what he was doing. While it was certainly a penalty to find one of his letters, it wasn’t just a case of flipping back to the previous page after your death, it just turned up the tension a notch, which is a good thing. A tough dude I managed to avoid was the guy depicted below, a mutant orc assassin I narrowly avoided just before your dragon artefacts are totted up, who is seemingly armed with some sort of lightsabres. Skill 11 and Stamina 11 was not something I wanted to fight at that point, especially given my wildly fluctuating Skill score, I was trying to stay out of fights for portions of the book.
My adventure was a failure, but had I found that 5th dragon artefact I believe I was in a position to get through the final encounter with Malbordus successfully. He is pictured here, played by the legend that is Nick Cave.
I should hasten to add, I did not draw the horns and neither did Bill Houston. Some cheeky Shetland scamp must have done that at some point… It should also be said that my copy of the book did not survive the reading and scanning process, the water damage was too much to take and… he fell.