The Fighting Fantasy ouevre was pulp at its finest - mad, honest-to-goodness theft and graverobbing of every known trope of fantasy, horror and science-fiction, hacked up and sewn together and then reanimated, Frankenstein-like, into horrible monsters. Their beauty is that you know exactly what you're going to get with them; if you've never read/played any, take a look over this short list of title examples and it'll tell you all you need to know:
- Creature of Havoc
- Deathtrap Dungeon
- Crypt of the Sorcerer
- House of Hell
- Armies of Death
- Island of the Lizard King
- The Keep of the Lich Lord
- Fangs of Fury
- Appointment with F.E.A.R.
See what I mean? I bet you can not only imagine perfectly the tone and broad content of each of those volumes, but can take a pretty good stab at how the stories begin and end - all from the title. There was a real genius to those titles.
I think my favourite one of all was The Forest of Doom, in which...well, I don't need to explain the story, do I? Because you can already guess, I'm sure. It involved a forest full of monsters, mostly - and, needless to say, a healthy dose of DOOM. The best thing about it was the artwork, though. I've searched everywhere for some examples on the internet but couldn't get hold of any - the interior artist's name was apparently Malcolm Barter, but that's as far as I've got. He only did one of the FF books and seems lost to history - one can only hope that, El Greco-like, he will come to be appreciated centuries after he is gone, although somehow I doubt it. I did find the cover, though (done by somebody else):
All good things come to an end and most FF books are now out of print, although another company called Wizards Books has relaunched the series by publishing a few of the old books and some new ones, which needless to say I don't like the look of. (You have to wonder if there wasn't some kind of ethereal synergy going on between that company and Wizards of the Coast: can it really be the case that the wreckers of two of my favourite adolescent pastimes had such similar names purely out of coincidence?)
Anyway, pick up some of the old FF books if you can find them. I'm not sure how popular they were outside of the UK, but they're still worth a read.