Posts Tagged ‘lone wolf

08
May
18

Attention Readers: Found Any Fighting Fantasy Books?

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If you happen upon a used bookstore that has one or more Fighting Fantasy and/or Sorcery! (a spin-off of the F-F pick-a-path books) books, let me know.  And, if possible, which books you find.  I am typically interested and hunting a few particular editions/copies.

I know of one British bookstore that has provided me with some, already, though shipping is a bit much, and–to be honest–I was a lil disappointed with some of the conditions (of the books).  Yet, there was one gem in the bunch, a first-edition American copy of Sorcery! 3, The Seven Serpents which looked fresh and unused.  I treasure it as much as I treasure the copy of Sorcery! 2 I got from my sister.

On that note, here is a short shopping list.   And, I’m going to be specific about cover art just because there are so many editions!  [I won’t mind one with a different cover if it’s in good shape, just for reading purposes.  But, the best covers are worth finding.]

@ Sorcery! Book 1:  The Shamutanti Hills (the natural green-white cover with the manticore looking a bit sketchy, orange spine and back cover, with or without the black and orange trim.)

@ Sorcery! Book 4:  The Crown of Kings (same as the above, orange spine, cartoonish/sketchy wizard on the cover holding the crown overhead on the castle balcony.)

@ Freeway Fighter (American <I presume> cover with the rope/vine border and Mad Max-ish action scene with the chopper and other vehicles after the red car.)

@ Caverns of the Snow Witch (For this one, I actually prefer the 200X cover with the raven-haired witch in the long white coat leaning forward, and the metallic, embossed title; it just looks better than the other versions I’ve seen.)

@ City of Thieves (The <American rope/vine> cover with the grim reaper-like skeleton in the middle of some kind of stone structures with a knight and some other shaggy thing to his left, a reptilian pelican-like thing to the right and red smoke rising along with the long neck of some other lizard/serpent behind the stone structure.)

@ Starship Traveler (The <American rope/vine> cover with the male and female space travelers fighting off the aliens in the foreground, the robot in the upper right corner, while standing on some kind of planet with a yellow-orange moon and a spaceship in the background.)**

@ The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Now, this one has so many covers/editions and is the first and possibly most memorable; but the one I favor has the warlock (or wizard) casting a spell upward from the bottom with the coiling dragon up top AND THE TITLE IN THE MIDDLE <have to be specific because there’s another cover with the title on top of them both>…though I seem to recall another cover that had the dragon peeking through a doorway with a blue beetle-like thing attached to its back or head…if I could find that cover, I’d be ecstatic.)

@ Midnight Rogue (any cover/edition will do as I haven’t seen more than one; it’s just the one I recently got in the mail looked like someone pooped on it…and the return/exchange process was more than I cared to follow).

@ Tower of Destruction (This one might be the original/British cover with the nice floating tower at a tile firing fireballs at the land below; it looks interesting.)

@ Beneath Nightmare Castle (The one with the interesting female monster character clawing at the reader; again, ‘looks interesting.)

@ Citadel of Chaos (The <American> one with the armored figure centered among large worms and a gorgon woman in the background, holding his glowing sword overhead; great cover design!  Just like my favorite Deathtrap Dungeon cover.  Now that I mention it…)

@ Deathtrap Dungeon (The <American> cover with the guy in red standing to the left of the doorway, revealing an array of monsters in the dungeon; I currently just have a copy of the one with the slug on the cover.)

@ Sword of the Samurai (One of the most Uninspired titles; yet I am partial to Far East tales…which is why I am looking into this Lone Wolf Books ninja series; no particular favored cover.)

@ Scorpion Swamp (Another interesting title I have not seen, yet.)

@ Legend of the Shadow Warriors (One version, at least, has the intriguing cover with the pumpkin-headed figures lurking toward the reader; ‘looks interesting.)

@ Nightdragon (The black dragon on the cover I see reminds me of the “blue sword” mini-series I read book 2 of in elementary school, The Hero and the Crown.)

@ Return to Firetop Mountain (Book 50; one of a number of continuing stories in the series, which was also interesting compared to other pick-a-path collections; there were places and stories that reappeared in other books, keeping the mythology going; this had mixed results, as I saw with the Deathtrap Dungeon/Trial of Champions/Armies of Death story.)

@ Any of that Lone Wolf/Way of the Tiger ninja series (Though I’d like to see the first book before considering any of the others, just to be sure it’s worth following.)

There may be more.  But, this is what I came up with for now.


 

A little history…….

I used to have many of these books but foolishly gave them up for quarters when I was desperate to save up for Nintendo games, way back when a new game cost $50 and you knew you were crazy to invest in that 8-bit stuff when the next system was on its way.

Probably since 2001, when I started considering actually picking up a book and reading it (versus all my school years of being assigned reading), I found myself looking back at the fond memories I had of paging through those works by Steve Jackson (not the Lord of the Rings movie guy) and Ian Livingston (or LivingSTONE, depending upon where you find his name, apparently).  Not all of their works were great.  Like the Dungeons and Dragons series, some had lousy titles and repetitive scenarios with just different items to find and different doodles on the pages.  But, there were a few that crossed my desk and captivated me, inspired me to be creative with my own books…which, at the time, were like long comic strips and short comic books.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I started writing my own pick-a-path book, doing my “darndest” to pay tribute to the books I had enjoyed paging through (despite some of the grim, gruesome and frankly scary imagery which I do not support) while infusing some of my own creativity and steering away from the grim stuff that told parents not to buy these books for their kids unless they were twisted adults themselves.  [You know, the kind of adults that live in houses of Halloween stuff and think it’s cute their little ones want to play zombies and vampires or worship scary “rock gods.”]

So, a few years ago, I picked up copies of about a dozen of the old books, including a few “reprints” which came out around 2003.  I appreciated the fresh pages but missed the old cover art.  If you’ve seen some of these (American) covers, you know what I mean.  It’s just fabulous fantasy stuff (again, even if some if not most of it looks a bit freakish and grim, which I do not like).  I particularly liked the cover for Deathtrap Dungeon with the game master standing beside the dungeon door while all the creatures peered out and some escaped toward the reader.  [The British/original cover seems to feature just a little slug-like thing on a pool of slime; not as impressive.]

I’ll confess…  I never took the books too seriously and have yet to actually venture through one completely by keeping all of the notes and using the dice.  I simply enjoyed reliving certain scenes, hunting the seven serpents and imagining some of the creatures in the shady field-stone buildings and wilderness where you found them.

**The robotic/space books in the series, from what I’ve seen so far, were a bit dry and boring in comparison to the grittier dungeon and monster ones.  Maybe the authors had less interest or scientific knowledge to put into the books.  But, I still paged through a few because I was looking for glimpses of something to incorporate into my own work.  I remember drawing the characters from the one cover for Rebel Planet and then, more recently, trying to turn the same poses into other characters/creatures, sort of like using one image as a mandala.  There’s just something about getting staging and poses right that can conjure wonders.

I remember the infamous “red-eyes” that paralyzed you when they looked your way and the striped cats that could disappear into the bush…the golden Buddha-like statue with jewels you could take and the pillar of laughing faces…the serpent disguised as a boatman who offers you a ride before sinking you to the bottom of the lake.  I remember the floor with hands and stars that required a special path to cross…the massive T-Rex turning toward you as you entered the arena…the leprechaun testing your memory with the door/jewel puzzle before he gets struck by a crossbow’s arrow.

I remember working on book reports and donning a harpy costume one year.  For me, these books were my Harry Potter (which is rather sad when you think about it because these were a far cry from that effort at writing).  Fighting Fantasy was light on text yet inspiring enough to fuel so many projects of mine.  Looking back, I wonder how I got anything out of what I read.

Writing my own, I find myself putting so much more text to the page to describe feelings and locations as if I expect no one to have any imagination like the imagination I must have had paging through these F-F books.  My efforts are more like novels broken into alternate endings than short passages about turning a certain direction in a dungeon maze, the result of casting a spell with the wrong item or a very brief clash with some monster.  And, I’m not sure which is better.


 

You know what’s crazy?

Every time I write something like this, I end up doing an online search.  And, sure enough, a new version has just appeared.  [This just happened when I was writing about Cutey Honey, too.]  Apparently, Scholastic Books has been working on/putting out yet another edition of the F-F books with new covers as of last year (2017)?  I guess I need to hit the bookstores, again.  [But, I’d still like to hold some of those older editions, too.  Ya know?  Only then can we feel like kids, again.]

When I previously thought of these books, back in the late 90s, suddenly there were computer and video games based on them.  Then when I thought about them again, there was the 2003 re-issues I completely missed because–again–I am not a genuine bookworm!  I don’t follow the bookstore “feeds.”  I don’t run into people who talk about this stuff.  It’s like they all hide in a closet with candles and dice; and, if you find them they scurry like mice or bugs.

What I don’t quite yet understand, though, is how they say they’re writing a Port (or Portal) of Peril book for younger readers.  Seriously?  I don’t think there was one book in that series that was remotely kind to younger readers.  And, by that, I mean kids under 10.  [That’s why that other pick-a-path series–which was a bit thinner per volume and without the need of dice or note paper–seemed more popular with my classmates.  I only found one book in that series that scared the crap out of me; it involved a robot that took you apart if you made a mistake.  It was either Choose Your Own Adventure:  Your Very Own Robot or the Dungeons and Dragons title Robbers and Robots.  DO NOT PICK UP THESE TWO BOOKS IF YOU HAVE LITTLE KIDS!  I can still see the sinister look on that robot’s face.]

I was rather young when I paged through those books.  I can honestly say they were safe enough for me to tolerate them.  [Though, I had to buy them with my own “scrimping and saving.”]  So, why the worry?  But, again, some of the artwork and grim descriptions…it’s a bit much.  Thankfully (I guess), I was looking at them before I had my “religious epiphany” which turned me away from some of the books and probably explains how I lost track of the series after about book #30 or so.  Thus, I have no interest in owning the whole series.  I just favor those which inspired me and might still inspire me and/or rekindle some fun reading moments of my youth.

The new covers look like cool comic books but still quite scary…scarier than some of the original works.

I also was just tipped off to a website that a comment pointed to a Lone Wolf series about ninja?  This looks VERY interesting.  And, had I read some of those as a kid, I would definitely have been a much bigger fan of Ninja Gaiden and the like (which I already favored, minus the scary evil bits).

Now, if only I could identify and locate the series about dragons that started with a book about a guy with a bolt stuck in his neck.  If you removed the bolt yourself, you died.  You went on a quest to free yourself via magic.

Here is a collected image of many of the original covers, not the ones I remember most with the rope borders.  You can see for yourself how some were rather frightful and not suited for young readers (or for me, actually).  So, I became and still am selective; and I’m working on some adventures/puzzles of my own that are not so frightful and/or grim.  The scariest thing you’ll see on the covers of my books will be a nurse with a dripping needle; and that’s plenty scary to me.  😛

fightingfantasy-series-collected-1


 

Here are some other pick-a-path books I’ve read/paged through you might like, if interested.  [And, if you want more info about the ones listed above, I’m sure you can find it online; but feel free to ask me anything.  :)]   These are sure to be less frightful than the Fighting Fantasy series, if you want to share them with younger readers and not have to worry about the kids getting nightmares.

@ Dungeons and Dragons:  Endless Quest:  Mountain of Mirrors  (Nice cover art, a very chilling setting and one freaky, scary, cool talking doorway.  I also recall reading a few of the other jewel/dragon books in that mini-series, including Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons, but this one was slightly more memorable…slightly.)

Choose Your Own Adventure(s):  [These can be read in a short time like bedtime stories.]

@ #17 The Race Forever (‘Recently re-read this one; decent story/layout; you get your choice of a few cars and paths through varying terrain to take, pairing up with different co-pilots.)

@ #30 Chinese Dragons (This one tugged at my interest in the Far East; it reminds me of the Oregon Trail game in how you are leaving home to undertake a long journey and questioning the strangers you meet along the way.)

@ #17 Pirate Treasure of the Onyx Dragon (A decent pirate adventure for kids of which I am presently blanking though I can see the cover.)

[I picked up an Indiana Jones pick-a-path not too long ago which was very disappointing.  I think you had to make no more than three decisions throughout the 100 page segments; the rest of the story just had you moving from one page to a distant one and then back again.  A far cry from the complexity of the F-F series and not even as interesting as some of the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  I think there has just been an ongoing interest in pick-a-path books though it’s like finding a needle in a really big haystack of teen monster fiction.]

So, in short, if you ever have the chance to exchange or give gifts to yours truly, and you like sharing books, a pick-a-path book is often a good choice (for me).

 

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