Have you recently read the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook? This area of the website has been set aside as a way for fans to comment on the Gamebook and let each other know what they think of the plot, twists, encounters, traps, paths, puzzles, rules and monsters? Let us and other fans known by emailing us with your review at firstname.lastname@example.org. Preferably we would like to see you write a minimum of two or three paragraphs or more than 200 words with an honest opinion on what you liked, didn't like or would have liked to have seen done differently, Please also add a rating; this is traditionally given using a scale from one to ten. You can read other fans opinions below, some of which were originally sent to us and hosted on the original AFF website and Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.com
- Laurence Sinclair (Originally sent & posted on FFG)
Okay, ignore the less than exemplary cover for a moment (was there really a need to ruin that otherwise excellent painting with a big green blob, Mr Miller?), and get right into the story. Moving on from the original FF, this book develops a lot of the ideas introduced in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. This time, though, you have a purpose. Balthus Dire is planning a conquest of the Vale of Willow, but killing him would put a stop to them. Thus you enter the Black Tower, only this time you can cast spells.
Spells! Yes, magic is one of the big draws of The Citadel of Chaos, as few FF books deal with the subject. And they're not a disappointment. Chosen from a list at the start of the book and cast whenever given the opportunity in the text, they open up a whole new avenue of options. Rather than relying on the collection of items, you start off with the tools you need to succeed! Or at least, you hope you do. As with all good Gamebooks, casting some spells at certain times can be more problematic than helpful...
While you may be drooling at the thought of all this magical power at your fingertips, Citadel does suffer from a few drawbacks that mean it never really contends with its predecessor. The one item essential for success is something that you never knew you were looking for - at least in Warlock you knew that you needed the keys. Towards the end the book becomes a bit linear. There are several rooms that must be entered, no choice of direction, leading up to Dire himself. And speaking of Dire, the final conflict is not as good as it could have been. While it is possible to challenge him to a duel and finish him off that way, the alternative method, combat by magic, is too punishing. Choose the wrong spell, and you'll be faced with choices that all lead to death, and instant death at that.
The Citadel of Chaos is the book that really introduced the concept of an instant death to FF. There were a few in Warlock, but they were rarely encountered, whereas here they are a staple of the adventure itself, an unforgiving punishment for stupidity. Comparing this, Steve Jackson's first solo effort, with Ian Livingstone's Forest of Doom will reveal the difference in their writing styles, one choosing innovation and lethality, the other openness and familiarity. Which is better is a matter of personal choice.
Citadel of Chaos is not a bad book, though. It may have a large number of gruesome deaths, but not as many as some of the later entries in the series, and it's certainly more open and forgiving than some of its descendants. As I said before, the magic system is a big draw, and it's worth owning for that alone.
Rating: 7 out of 10