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Literature / Island of the Lizard King

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No, that thing on his head is not a crown...
Island of the Lizard King is the seventh entry of the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Ian Livingstone.

You were leaving Fang southward when you decided to make a detour for Oyster Bay, to take a few days of rest along with your old friend Mungo. However, you soon find out that your holiday will have to wait: the nearby Fire Island, formerly a prison owned by prince Olaf and manned by a garrison of Lizard Men mercenaries, and later a research facility where unhortodox experiments were held, was taken over by the rebellious mercenaries: a Lizard Man far bigger and more cunning than the rest, known as the "Lizard King", Is now ruling the island with an iron fist, sending his troops of non-humans to raid the coastline and enslaving whole villages in order to turn Fire Island into his personal empire. Moved, you decided to lend your help to the people of Oyster Bay and embark on a dangerous mission, ready to fight the servants of the Lizard King as well as hordes of dangerous monsters dwelling on the island.

Compared to previous (and later) works from Livingstone, Island of the Lizard King is overall easier, featuring different ways to advance through the island and less mandatory items to collect (though one or two may be mandatory).

Has a Spiritual Successor, Battleblade Warrior which similarly deals with Lizard Men enemies.

See also The Keep of the Lich-Lord and Island of the Undead for similarly-structured adventures.

Island of the Lizard King provides examples of:

  • Bag of Holding: You can find a bottomless bag which can contain anything. Funnily enough, you don't use it to store stuff, but to imprison an otherwise undefeatable Water Elemental.
  • Big Bad: The Lizard King, new ruler of Fire Island.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: At one moment, you come face to face to a Lizardman riding a Styracosaurus, which is a quadrupedal herbivorous ceratopsoid. In the French translation, the (illustrated) Styracosaurus is described as a Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • Body Horror: Due to bonding with the Gochong, the Lizard King now has a massive, black spider with boney legs clutched to his nape, its proboscis stuck into his cranium.
  • Call-Back: In the opening, Mungo mention how his father disappeared after undertaking the Trial of Champions in Fang several years ago.
  • Cavalry of the Dead: If you found a magical horn, you can blow in it to summon dead warriors to your side.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Pouch of Unlimited Contents pretty much just by virtue of existing in a book with no encumbrance rules. An item like that would have to have some kind of special use, and it does: it's used to trap an otherwise invincible water elemental.
  • Climax Boss: Halfway through there's an unskippable battle against a Lizardman Warrior riding a Styracosaurus.
  • Cyclops: If you don't have the magical horn, you will have to defeat in personal combat a cyclops commander in order to bring more courage to your allies.
  • The Dreaded: Apparently, even the Lizard King's own subjects fear the Gochong. If you say this name as a password to the Hobgoblin guard, he will be frightened and attack you on sight.
  • Elemental Embodiment: One possible encounter is against a Water Elemental dwelling in a river, which makes him nearly unstoppable.
  • Elite Mooks: Mutant Lizard Men have noticeably higher stats and are afar more dangerous than regular lizard men.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: While the Lizard King's subjects are mostly lizard-men, he also employs orcs, goblins, and hobgoblins as soldiers. In fact the captain of his army is a Cyclops.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: One of the rusty blades in the palace near the end is actually a Fire Sword, enchanted to look like a useless piece of junk.
  • Flaming Sword: The Lizard King's weapon of choice, it's also the only thing that can harm him. You can either find one yourself, or bring a monkey to scare the Lizard King and take his sword. If you have both, the Boss Fight becomes a laughable piece of cake.
  • Flat "What": When you come across one of the Lizard King's hobgoblins guards, who refuse to let you through an overpass without a password. Instead of giving a password (which might result in the guard attacking you if you guessed incorrectly) you can just let out a quizzical "What?". Being as stupid as it looks, the hobgoblin will actually believe "what" is the password, and let you pass without a fight.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Your friend Mungo dies during the first encounter, no matter what your initial choice is or how well you do. The ending even signs off on how proud he'd be of you.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: If you go one way on the beach, a gigantic crab will emerge from the sand and kill Mungo. You have to defeat it to proceed.
  • Giant Spider: The Gochong is a massive spider-like parasite with boney legs and a proboscis that loves to control people against their will by inserting his proboscis into their brains. The Lizard King bonded with one.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Fire Island was intended to be a prison and later a research facility bent on making mutant Lizard Men soldiers. Then the Lizard King came along...
  • Guide Dang It!: We can bet you won't find the Horn of Valhalla or the Helmet of Sog on your first play. Actually getting them? Requires painful trials.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: It is mentioned that the Lizard King practiced this type of sorcery.
  • Hungry Jungle: The first half of the setting is a torrid jungle infested with monsters and cannibals.
  • Infodump: If you find the Shaman and pass his tests, he will divulge crucial information about the Lizard King and how to beat him. The Shaman goes into a trance and comes out with a long speech with all this information.
  • The Lancer: Mungo comes along with you on the island, but dies alarmingly fast, leaving you alone.
  • Lizard Folk: The main villains of the story.
  • Multiple Head Case: You can encounter and fight a giant mutated lizard man with two heads.
  • Mutant: The experiments' goal was to produce mutated lizard men to turn into loyal super soldiers. It's implied that the Lizard King is one of these mutations.
  • No-Sell: Wearing the Helmet of Sog makes you immune to the bite of a certain Razorjaw monster. Getting that helmet means you have to endure a dangerous, poisonous snake's bite, however.
  • Nubile Savage: You meet two wild women on the island. Each is drawn like a magazine pin-up.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: Part of your quest involves seeking out a Shaman that has knowledge of the Lizard King, the Gochong and how to defeat both. But no matter how noble your cause is, the Shaman will NOT divulge any of his secrets unless you pass three out of six tests. Some of the tests are simple, requiring dice rolls while at least one requires you to have collected an item during your quest.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The Slime Sucker stands out a lot, being a sort of mutant, flat-bodied octopus with a humanoid face standing up tall on his tentacles.
  • Palate Propping: If you're journeying along the river on a raft, you can stop an attacking crocodile by doing this to him with an iron bar.
  • Panthera Awesome: A cavewoman has a pet Sabertooth tiger she can unleash on you, while the Lizard King's pet is a massive black panther he sics on you.
  • Perilous Old Fool: Mungo describes his father as one in the story he tells on the ride over to the island. Used to be a circus strongman, but as he got older he had to prove to himself he still had it, and entered Deathtrap Dungeon to do just that. Unfortunately he was never seen again, but that didn't really surprise the people who knew him.
  • Pirate: You can meet and fight pirates at the beginning, along with Mungo. And find his death killed by their captain that you have to defeat.
  • Poison Mushroom: Noxious items disguised as useful stuff include a ring which makes you lose SKILL points but allows you to pass one of the Shaman's tests and a Potion of Clumsiness, which gives you a chance of dropping your sword in combat, automatically losing the first round.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Gochong for the Lizard King, though only to an extent. Also to you in the end if you're not careful.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: The Lizard King is the strongest and smartest Lizardman on the island. Thanks in no small part to the parasite on his head.
  • Red Shirt: Your friend Mungo who gives you the quest, sadly. He won't survive the first encounter on the island, no matter what you do.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: As usual.
  • Shattering the Illusion: The Ring of Confusion drains two points off your skill, but can also help you detect illusions. You can use it to bypass one of the Shaman's tests, and later avoid an ambush from a Shapechanger disguised as a sleeping goblin.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • You come across some strange leathery eggs by a warm sulfur pool. Getting close to the eggs leads to a battle with a hatching monster.
    • If you encounter fungus in the jungle, you have given an option to try eating it. Guess how well that turns out.
  • Sinister Scimitar: The flaming sword employed by the Lizard King is a massive scimitar, and he's an evil, warmongering mutant.
  • Slave Liberation: You can cause one in the mines if you rescue the prisoners. You can then lead said prisoners against the Lizard King's army.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The swamp on the island is infested with monsters and quicksands, also due to the magical wastes left from the experiments.
  • Test of Pain: One of the tests the shaman puts you through in order to defeat the Lizard King is "pain", where the shaman casts an Illusion spell which makes you feel like you're being chewed apart by hundreds of flesh grubs. You suffer no health damage, but if your Stamina stat is too low you'll fail the test.
  • The Three Trials: The witch doctor will demand you pass three of a list of skill checks before he'll tell you how to defeat the Lizard King.
  • Too Dumb to Live: You, if you slay the Lizard King and then decide to turn your back on him and wave at your men from the balcony, giving the Gochong a shot at taking over your brains.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The lizard men of Fire Island rebelled against Prince Olaf and turned the prison island into their personal domain.
  • Unreliable Illustrator:
    • When you face the Lizard King, it is described in the text that he doesn't even turn towards you as he signals his panther to attack. But on the illustration, the Lizard King is shown as turning his head in order to look at you!
    • You are given the option to search the Lizard King's clothes after killing him. However, in all illustrations, including the cover art, the Lizard King wears no clothes!
  • Wall Run: If you find the Boots of the Crawler you can walk over walls unhindered.
  • The War Sequence: Near the end, you must lead the slaves against the Lizard King's keep.
  • Witch Doctor: The Shaman of Fire Island is depicted as one, conplete with feathers in his hair, wearing loincloths, and carrying a bone scepter. You need his help to succeed in his quest.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The Lizard King is mortally afraid of monkeys, and even the mind control of the Gochong isn't enough to make him overcome this phobia. If you bring a monkey along with you, he will drop his sword, reducing his stats.
  • Wild Man: In a variation, this book features two Cavewomen as enemies, though one of them will sic her beast at you.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Implied with some of the Shaman's magic and trials.