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Fighting Fantasy Collection

If you’re a kid of the 1980’s like myself, the chances are you may have played a few Fighting Fantasy books, you do remember those don’t you? The books ‘where you become the hero’. No? You don’t remember them? How about ‘If you want to go left, turn to page 192. If you want to go right, turn to page 267.’ Remember now? Eureka!

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain’ was the first book in the Fighting Fantasy series to be published by Puffin Books in 1982 with an very limited print run. Puffin Books originally thought the book wouldn’t be a success, but the authors of the book, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone proved them wrong and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was reprinted 20 times in a year, and the rest is history as they say. Between 1982 and 1995, a total of 59 books were published, with various spin-offs like the Sorcery! series and Fighting Fantasy novels. In recently times, some of these books have been re-published by other publishing houses and some fan favourites have even been released as smart phone Apps and games on Steam!

I could write a huge essay on the history of the Fighting Fantasy book series but there is no need. Jonathan Green, whom himself wrote a few of the Fighting Fantasy books and still does, has written two books on the history of Fighting Fantasy. These books are called ‘You Are The Hero’ (Part 1 and 2) and I highly recommend them to any Fighting Fantasy reader. This article about my memories of the franchise and about me collecting the series.

First memories of Fighting Fantasy

My first memory of a Fighting Fantasy book was back in 1983 with ‘The Forest of Doom’ (number 3 in the series, or FF3 for short). On my first attempt of the adventure, I didn’t get too far as I decided to attack the wizard called Yaztromo, which was a huge mistake. Yaztromo was the main quest giver and was there to help me, so let’s just say my adventure ended before it had even begun. D’oh!

From that moment on, I was hooked. I loved the fact that I could control the story, I could immerse myself into these fantasy worlds where I can go on an adventure, interact with various characters, go on quests, sub-quests, solve puzzles, make decisions and attack monsters etc. You have to remember, this was the era before the Internet and console and computer games were primitive, so these books were a perfect form of escapism for its time.

Scorpion SwampFighting Fantasy was extremely popular amongst young boys in the 1980’s. It was so popular, my friends and I would borrow each others books and it wasn’t particularly hard to find a friend that had a particular book you were after. We also use to play Fighting Fantasy in the playground as it was that popular (I always played a wizard). One particular title I enjoyed reading was FF8, ‘Scorpion Swarm’. All the adventure books up until then had a somewhat linear storyline whereby you couldn’t go back the way you came, but in Scorpion Swamp, you could! It was totally fully free roaming! It did get confusing on where you were going and where’ve you had been, so in the end, I made a map! I also like the fact there are three separate quests in this adventure but you could only do one quest at a time, which meant you had to read the book three times to 100% complete the book. The book had it all, magic, adventure, suspense, collecting treasure and artifacts and fighting monsters, great stuff. Everything a kid could ever wanted.

When I first started, I played the books properly by rolling dice for my abilities, on fights and testing my luck etc., but eventually I stopped playing that way; I put myself into ‘God’ mode. I stopped playing the books properly because I was more interested in the story of the adventure and my thinking behind why I played God mode was I would eventually beat the monster anyway, so why restart the whole book as I would have made the same decisions as before. But the authors of the books got more clever as the series went on with more and more difficult puzzles to complete such decrypting gobbledygook go find out which paragraph number to turn to or you had to find a particular character in the book that gave you that one piece or critical information or object that had a number.

Although I have all of Fighting Fantasy books, I have to admit, I haven’t read them all yet! Still, from the books that I have read, my personal favourite is FF10 ‘House of Hell’. Set in modern times (that’s 1980s modern times), the story is you are driving along a lonely country road in a thunderstorm and your car breaks down, bugger, but then you see a house in the distance and you decide to approach the house to see if they can offer assistance, sounds familiar doesn’t it? The adventure ends up to be the classic escape from the haunted house but the book is considered by many fans to be one of the hardest books to complete as death is more or less around every corner. I have never completed House of Hell, even to this day; I’ll probably never will.

My Fighting Fantasy Collection

Because I was a kid in a low income family I was unable to collect all of the Fighting Fantasy book at the time and once I moved out of my home to go to University, the collection I did have, was lost to the sands of time; I think my Mum gave them to a charity shop. By then (1995), I think I had about 30 books of the possible 59, tragic.

So fast foward to around 2003, with the explosion of the online auction website eBay and a full-time job wage package in my back pocket, I decided to re-collect the original Fighting Fantasy book, all 59 books (I thought it would be the perfect way to increase my rating as well). The collection took me the best part of three years to collect and at some considerable expense (explained later).

Due to its success, the Fighting Fantasy series was reprinted many many times and over it’s lifespan, the cover design was also changed a few times. I didn’t want my collection to be a mosaic mismatch of covers, so I decided I wanted my collection to have the same front cover design so it looked consistent when laid out on the floor (it’s my OCD). As the last few books in the series only had a single print run and those books only had a dragon above the authors names, I decided on this specific design (didn’t have much choice really). This design is known as the Dragon Cover Format. But unfortunately at the time of collecting, I didn’t realise there were two types of Dragon Cover Format: Bronze and Black. The difference being isn’t the dragon itself I initially thought but how the way the authors names are printed. If the authors’ names are printed in a metallic foil, then the cover is referred to as Golden/Bronze Dragon, where as if the authors’ names are in black ink (no metallic foil), then the cover is referred to as Black Dragon No Bronze-Foil.

Collecting FF1 to FF24 in the Dragon Cover format was a bit more difficult to collect than FF25 to FF50. The reason being, the Dragon Cover format started at FF25, ‘Beneath Nightmare Castle’, and Fighting Fantasy fans may have already got an early printed edition of the book in a different cover design, which means they weren’t many 1 to 24 Dragon Cover Format sold in comparison.

Curse Of The MummyBooks FF51, ‘Island of the Undead’, to FF59, ‘Curse of the Mummy‘, were very difficult to obtain due to their rarity because of the limited print run. Also, as the Fighting Fantasy books were becoming collectable at the time, this made them even more expensive.

The prices I paid for the books ranged from 50 pence to £48; sometimes, the postage and packaging cost more than the book itself! The two most difficult books to collect, which were also the most expensive, were FF58, ‘Revenge of the Vampire’ and FF59, ‘Curse of the Mummy’ They didn’t appear for auction that often, especially in very good condition or better and when they did, they went for stupid money. Considering the books were released for a price of £3.99, ‘Revenge of the Vampire’ cost me £48 and ‘Curse of the Mummy’ cost me £36 (if memory serves).

The condition of the book itself was extremely important to me. This was a collection after all, so the book had to be in mint to very good condition. This meant the book had to have: a tight binding creaseless spine, minimal creasing of the cover and pages, no pencil/pen marks of any kind, a clean unwritten adventure sheet and if applicable, have the map printed on the inside cover.

Of course, my definition of ‘very good condition’ differed massively from other eBay sellers and there were a few times where I received a ‘very good condition’ book for only it to go to the charity shop because it clearly wasn’t. You may be thinking, ‘why didn’t you check the photos of the auction’. I did! But back in 2003 when digital photography was at best two megapixels, it was hard to determine the condition of the book. Sometimes I got lucky, sometimes I didn’t. I did get lucky on the last nine as the majority are in very good condition, but sadly, I got unlucky on FF58, ‘Revenge of the Vampire’; it’s in a state where I would class it as good condition, but due to the rarity and price, I doubt I’ll ever get a near mint copy.

Below is a table of my collection, which edition I have and the condition the book is in. I have been very strict in assessing each book’s condition so I don’t appear to be bias. Due to the sands of time and there are no actual records, I can’t remember what I paid for each individual book, but books FF1 – FF49 cost in the range of £0.50 to £5 whereas books FF50 to FF59 cost in the range of £10 – £48.

No.TitleAuthor(s)EditionCondition
1The Warlock of Firetop MountainSteve Jackson and Ian LivingstoneBronze DragonVery Good
2The Citadel of ChaosSteve JacksonBlack DragonVery Good
3The Forest of DoomIan LivingstoneBronze DragonVery Good
4Starship TravellerSteve JacksonBronze DragonGood
5City of ThievesIan LivingstoneBlack DragonNear Mint
6Deathtrap DungeonIan LivingstoneBronze DragonGood
7Island of the Lizard KingIan LivingstoneBronze DragonGood
8Scorpion SwampSteve Jackson (USA)Black DragonGood
9Caverns of the Snow WitchIan LivingstoneBronze DragonVery Good
10House of HellSteve JacksonBronze DragonVery Good
11Talisman of DeathJamie Thomson and Mark SmithBronze DragonVery Good
12Space AssassinAndrew ChapmanBronze DragonNear Mint
13Freeway FighterIan LivingstoneBronze DragonNear Mint
14Temple of TerrorIan LivingstoneBronze DragonGood
15The Rings of KetherAndrew ChapmanBronze DragonNear Mint
16Seas of BloodAndrew ChapmanBronze DragonVery Good
17Appointment with F.E.A.R.Steve JacksonBlack DragonVery Good
18Rebel PlanetRobin WaterfieldBronze DragonVery Good
19Demons of the DeepSteve Jackson (USA)Bronze DragonNear Mint
20Sword of the SamuraiMark Smith and Jamie ThomsonBronze DragonNear Mint
21Trial of ChampionsIan LivingstoneBronze DragonVery Good
22Robot CommandoSteve Jackson (USA)Bronze DragonNear Mint
23Masks of MayhemRobin WaterfieldBronze DragonNear Mint
24Creature of HavocSteve JacksonBronze DragonGood
25Beneath Nightmare CastlePeter Darvill-EvansBlack DragonVery Good
26Crypt of the SorcererIan LivingstoneBronze DragonNear Mint
27Star StriderLuke SharpBronze DragonVery Good
28Phantoms of FearRobin WaterfieldBronze DragonNear Mint
29Midnight RogueGraeme DavisBronze DragonMint
30Chasms of MaliceLuke SharpBronze DragonNear Mint
31Battleblade WarriorMarc GascoigneBlack DragonGood
32Slaves of the AbyssPaul Mason and Steve WilliamsBronze DragonNear Mint
33Sky LordMartin AllenBronze DragonGood
34Stealer of SoulsKeith MartinBronze DragonNear Mint
35Daggers of DarknessLuke SharpBronze DragonVery Good
36Armies of DeathIan LivingstoneBronze DragonNear Mint
37Portal of EvilPeter Darvill-EvansBronze DragonNear Mint
38Vault of the VampireKeith MartinBronze DragonNear Mint
39Fangs of FuryLuke SharpBronze DragonNear Mint
40Dead of NightJim Bambra and Stephen HandBronze DragonNear Mint
41Master of ChaosKeith MartinBronze DragonGood
42Black Vein ProphecyPaul Mason and Steven WilliamsBronze DragonNear Mint
43The Keep of the Lich LordDave Morris and Jamie ThomsonBronze DragonGood
44Legend of the Shadow WarriorsStephen HandBronze DragonGood
45Spectral StalkersPeter Darvill-EvansBlack DragonNear Mint
46Tower of DestructionKeith MartinBlack DragonNear Mint
47The Crimson TidePaul MasonBronze DragonGood
48MoonrunnerStephen HandBronze DragonGood
49Siege of SardathKeith P. PhillipsBronze DragonNear Mint
50Return to Firetop MountainIan LivingstoneBronze DragonNear Mint
51Island of the UndeadKeith MartinBronze DragonNear Mint
52Night DragonKeith MartinBlack DragonNear Mint
53SpellbreakerJonathan GreenBlack DragonMint
54Legend of ZagorKeith MartinBlack DragonGood
55DeathmoorRobin WaterfieldBlack DragonMint
56Knights of DoomJonathan GreenBlack DragonNear Mint
57MagehunterPaul MasonBlack DragonNear Mint
58Revenge of the VampireKeith MartinBlack DragonGood
59Curse of the MummyJonathan GreenBlack DragonNear Mint
60Eye of the DragonIan LivingstoneWizard BooksMint
61BloodbonesJonathan GreenWizard BooksMint
62Howl of the WerewolfJonathan GreenWizard BooksMint
63StormslayerJonathan GreenWizard BooksMint
64Night of the NecromancerJonathan GreenWizard BooksMint
65Blood of the ZombiesIan LivingstoneWizard BooksMint
66The Port of PerilIan LivingstoneScholastic BooksMint
67The Gates of DeathCharlie HigsonScholastic BooksMint
Socery Series!
1The Shamutanti HillsSteve JacksonWizard BooksMint
2Kharé - Cityport of TrapsSteve JacksonWizard BooksMint
3The Seven SerpentsSteve JacksonWizard BooksMint
4The Crown of KingsSteve JacksonWizard BooksMint
Other
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
25th Anniversary Edition
Steve Jackson and Ian LivingstoneWizard BooksMint
YOU Are The Hero:
A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks - Hardback
Jonathan GreenSnowbooksMint
YOU Are The Hero Part 2:
A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks - Hardback
Jonathan GreenSnowbooksMint

Condition key:
Mint – Like new. No defects of any kind.
Near Mint – Like new but with very minor crease damage to corners or edges only. No spine damage.
Very Good – Some signs of wear and tear. Minimal creases in the corners and covers. No spine damage.
Good – Obvious signs of use like creases in the covers and spine.
Poor – Poor condition.

Beyond Fighting Fantasy

Although the Fighting Fantasy franchise isn’t as popular as it once was, I still immerse myself into a fantasy world but of the virtual kind. I play a computer game whereby you can play a warrior, wizard, priest and other variety of roles, questing, making items, collecting treasure, battling beasts and demons in a online game called World of Warcraft. I’m currently playing as a Priest whereby I heal other players in the game. World of Warcraft is heavily influenced by the Fighting Fantasy series. With 9 million active players worldwide, I wonder how many of them grew up playing the Fighting Fantasy books? I suspect quite a few.

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