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Fighting Fantasy Collection

If you’re a kid of the 1980s 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 them 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 a very limited print run. Puffin Books originally thought the book wouldn’t be successful, but the authors of the book, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone proved them wrong and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain went on to be a massive success, 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 recent times, some of these books have been reprinted by other publishing houses and some fan favourites have even been released as smartphone Apps and games on Steam!

I could write a huge essay on the history of the Fighting Fantasy book series but there’s no need. Author Jonathan Green, who himself wrote a few of the Fighting Fantasy books and still does, has written two fantastic 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 is about my memories of the franchise and about my experiences collecting the series.

First memories of Fighting Fantasy

My first memory of playing a Fighting Fantasy book was back in 1983 with ‘The Forest of Doom’ (number 3 in the original series, or FF3 for short). On my first attempt at the adventure, I didn’t get far into the story as I decided to attack the wizard called Yaztromo, which was a huge mistake. Yaztromo was the main quest giver of the adventure and he was there to help me, so let’s just say my quest and 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, where game consoles and computer games were primitive by design, so these books were a perfect form of escapism for its time.

Scorpion SwampFighting Fantasy was extremely popular amongst young boys in the 1980s. 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/schoolyard as it was that popular (I always played a wizard). One particular title I enjoyed reading was FF8, ‘Scorpion Swarm’. All the adventures so far, FF1 – FF7, had a somewhat linear storyline whereby you couldn’t go back the way you came, but in Scorpion Swamp, you could! It was a fully free-roaming experience! It did get confusing on where you were going and where 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 artefacts and fighting monsters, great stuff. Everything a kid could ever want.

When I first started playing, I played the books properly by rolling dice for my abilities, on fights and testing my luck etc., but eventually, I stopped playing this way, instead, I put myself into ‘God’ mode. I stopped playing the books correctly because I was more interested in the story of the adventure and if I were to die because of combat or bad luck, why restart the whole book again for only to take the same decision path as before?

But the authors of the books got more clever and creative as the series went on, with more and more difficult puzzles to complete such as decrypting gobbledygook to find out which paragraph number to turn to or you had to find a particular character in the book who gave you that one piece of critical information or object that you needed such as a paragraph number.

Although I have all of the Fighting Fantasy books, I have to admit, I haven’t read them all yet! Still, from the books I have read, my favourite is FF10 ‘House of Hell’. Set in modern-day times (that’s 1980s modern times), the story is about you driving along a lonely country road in a thunderstorm, your car breaks down, but 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 being 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 grew up in a low-income family, I was unable to collect all of the Fighting Fantasy books at the time and when I moved out to go to University, the collection that I did have, was lost to the sands of time; I think my Mother gave them to a charity shop (I hope she did!). By then (1995), I think I had about 30 books in the collection, tragic.

So, fast forward 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 recollect the original Fighting Fantasy book series, all 59 books (I thought it would be the perfect way to increase my eBay rating as well). The collection took me the best part of three years to collect and at some considerable cost (explained later).

Due to its overall success, the early Fighting Fantasy books were reprinted many many times over its lifespan and the cover design was also changed. I didn’t want my collection to have a mosaic mismatch of cover designs, so I decided I wanted to have my collection to have the same front cover design so it looked consistent when laid out on the floor (it’s my OCD). The last few books in the series only had a single print run and these books had a dragon above the authors’ names, so I decided on this specific design (I didn’t have much choice really). This design is known as the Dragon Cover Format. Unfortunately at the time of collecting, I didn’t realise there were two types of Dragon Cover Format: Bronze and Black. The difference isn’t the dragon picture itself, as I initially thought, but it’s how the way the authors’ names are printed. If the authors’ names are printed in a gold metallic foil, then the cover is referred to as Golden/Bronze Dragon, whereas 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 lot more difficult to collect than FF25 to FF50. The reason being, the Dragon Cover format started at FF25, ‘Beneath Nightmare Castle’, and many Fighting Fantasy fans had already got an early printed edition of the book in the original green cover design, which meant they weren’t many FF1 to FF24 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 their limited print run. Also, as Fighting Fantasy books were becoming collectable at the time, this made them more expensive.

The prices I paid for the books, FF1 – FF59, 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, if possible. 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/expectation of ‘very good condition’ differed massively from other eBay sellers and there were a few times whereby 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 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 its 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 biased. Due to the sands of time and there being 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 to £48.

(if viewing this table on a mobile, you can scroll left and right)

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
68Assassins of AllansiaIan Livingstone Scholastic BooksMint
69Crystal of StormsRhianna PratchettScholastic BooksMint
70The Secrets of SalamonisSteve JacksonScholastic BooksMint
71Shadow of the Giants Ian LivingstoneScholastic 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
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 in 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, and battling beasts and demons in an online game called World of Warcraft. I’m currently playing as a Priest or Mage whereby I heal other players in the game or do serious damage to non-player characters. 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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