Back to the beginning for an anniversary

Return to Firetop Mountain (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks) - Ian Livingstone

Well, it looks like Ian Livingstone has returned for the 50th book in the Fighting Fantasy series and not surprisingly we are taken back to Firetop Mountain where the series began. It turned out that this particular warlock, whom we learn is named Zagor, is actually evil because after his death a spell was cast to bring him back to life, though for some reason it took him ten years to get around to doing it (you would think that if Zagor had such magical defences prepared he would have come back much sooner). However, it seems that despite his ability to bring himself back from the dead, because he waited ten years to do so all he is now is a bunch of bones, so he has decided that he will harvest proper limbs from the local villages.

This is where you come in. Basically you are an adventurer who wanders into the town of Anvil looking for some adventure (and basically make that statement in the local pub) and it becomes clear quite quickly that the villagers want you to go and deal with this supposedly dead warlock. So, with pretty much the same amount of equipment that the previous adventurer took with him (or her) to deal with Zagor initially, you set off to once again deal with this troublesome Warlock.

Much of this book seems to be a trip down memory lane, though as it turns out it is only the first part of the dungeon that we visit some familiar places and that the layout is pretty much the same. However, most of the rooms we visited in the first book have all be closed off, and it isn't long before you discover a path that takes you to a completely different part of the dungeon. Also, the book has a bit more of the story to it as the first section has you travelling to find the wizard Yaztromo before even stepping foot into the mountain. However, once you do enter the mountain the adventure sort of grounds to a halt.

The reason I say that is because there isn't really any labyrinth. The book is basically walk down a passage and come to a door, and occasionally you come to a junction but one of the junctions is always a dead end so basically the entire book is pretty linear. In fact if you search all the rooms you will end up finding everything that you need (though I did miss the iron key because I kept walking through the night, which meant that I also missed the wooden brick – both of which you need to complete the game). The other thing is that there are a huge number of items and many of them are pretty much red herrings, so I found that I was picking up all of this stuff that I never ended up needing, and that which I did need I did not use until right at the end where you seem to use them all at once.

So, all I can say is that while the original was a classic simply because it spawned a new era of gamebooks, comparing it with a lot of the later ones it is pretty bland. However, [book:Warlock of Firetop Mountain] was the first so in many cases the illogical aspects and the apparent non-existent theme (namely break into somebody's house, steal all of his treasure, and kill him and all of his pets) was forgivable on those grounds. However it seems with this book that Livingstone simply wanted to revisit Firetop Mountain for the fiftieth novel yet there simply does not seem that a huge amount of thought actually went into the book. Basically it felt rushed and simply exists to mark a milestone.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1157944406