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Casket of Souls

Author - Ian Livingstone
Cover Illustrator - Iain McCaig
Interior Illustrator - Iain McCaig
Setting - Amarillia
Date - 1987

Casket of Souls

"I am Sallazar, spirit guardian of the kingdom of Amarillia. For two hundred years I was the keeper of an artifact of magical energy, so powerful that its creation took the lives of eleven grand wizards. It was a casket that could imprison a demon and was made to defend Amarillia in its darkest years. And when the demon came, I awoke ready to trap it with the casket. But I gambled and lost. I was obliterated and rematerialised on the plane of shadows, unable to escape. Yet the demon can still be annihilated by the casket. There is a hidden spell that can open it. I will lead you to it. Please help for there is no other hope left to us."

The Casket of souls is a large, colorful puzzle books set in the Fantasy world of Amarilla made famous by the fantasy novels of Ian Livingstone in the Zagor Chronicles and is based around twelve grand wizards who created the Casket of Souls to defend the land from the future coming of a demon. It is an unusual puzzle book that contains puzzles which are cleverly hidden in both the text of the book as well as the pictures and is very difficult to solve. The book does not provide you with any adequate instructions for uncovering the solution to the book, and the answers aren't provided at the end.

Illustrated by Ian McCaig, the book has outstanding artwork and most of it is reproduced on a smaller scale (and renamed) in the Steve Jackson's Battlecards series.

In the book, you are informed that the creation of this casket took the lives of eleven of the tweleve wizards and only one remained, Sallazar, who is your guide through the book. When Sallazar saw that the demon would soon arrive, he placed a word of the spell, which would open the casket, on each of the twelve Royal Treasures and hid them throughout the kingdom. However, whilst doing so, he lef the casket unprotected, allowing the demon to retrieve it and destroy Sallazar in the process. Sallazar was not killed though. He re-appeared on the Plane of Shadows where he was trapped.

Amarillia's spirit guardian, Sallazar, asks you to therefore to locate the 12 Royal Treasures that he has hidden throughout the land. It is your quest to locate the treasures that will uncover 12 spell words that will open the Casket of Souls and trap the evil Bone Demon that has come to destroy Amarillia. The treasures are hidden in 12 visions or pictures in the book.

When the book first came out, there was a competition to win a solid gold replica of the casket by sending in the correct answer via post. This was originally a big media event and anyone who entered won a poster by Iain McCaig.

The book is a challenge, and is beautifully illustrated by non other than FF artist Iain McCaig. It marked a return of the Livingstone-McCaig team that combined to form the Fighting Fantasy classics of City of Thieves and everyone's favourite 'Deathtrap Dungeon'. As explained above, the Bone Demon is attempting to conquer Amarilla, and according to Sallazar (who appears in the FF Gamebook #54 -- Legend of Zagor) 'YOU' are the only one who can save this land. Within the volume 'You' are shown 12 pictures, and you have to find 12 treasures within the 12 pictures. Once you do, you form the words to a spell and you save the world.

Should you track it down Casket of Souls will take you some time to complete and you will enjoy every moment. The book is available in two formats, including a large, hardback book published by the Oxford University Press.

INFO - White Dwarf 96 featured an Illuminations article on the Casket of Souls artist Iain McCaig.


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