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Literature / The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

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This doesn't actually happen in the book. Still looks cool, though.
The one that started it all.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the first entry in the Fighting Fantasy line of Gamebooks. Written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, founders of Fighting Fantasy. It came out in 1982.

In this adventure, you play as an adventurer on a quest to defeat a sorcerer while accumulating treasure, objects and killing monsters along the way. It was the first one, so of course it's going to be a bit... "classic". Still, it has its share of Early Installment Weirdness.

Warlock has received two iOS Video-Game App conversions, the first as a straight interactive book by Big Blue Bubble Studios, the second by the Australian Production team of Tin Man Studios as a board-game style Action RPG. The Latter of the Two conversions was in turn was converted into a Nintendo Switch App in October 2018.

Received a sequel as the Milestone Celebration in the form of Return to Firetop Mountain.


The Warlock of Firetop Mountain provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: The Warlock/Zagor. Somehow subverted as he is not really depicted as doing great evil here, which has made the morality of this book quite infamous.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted. A Y-shaped stick seems like it is going to be useful, but when you intend to use it against Zagor in the end, it turns out to have broken.
  • Covers Always Lie: The original cover depicts a Merlin-like wizard with long white hair and beard, which is not how Zagor looks like at all (he has short black hair and a black goatee, for your information). And he summons a dragon from a crystal ball. Said dragon is simply found waiting for you in a cave. The cover has been remade in more modern editions so that Zagor looks like himself, however they kept the "summoning dragon" aspect for nostalgia sake. And maybe also for Rule of Cool.
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  • Dem Bones: Animated skeletons are working on building a boat.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Zagor is not depicted as an evil wizard who is a danger to the world. It seems more like adventurers just keep pestering him and he is the victim who stands for his life.
    • The hero's quest is not achieved unless he manages to unlock the Warlock's treasure... and given the option to become the new master of the Mountain. If he cannot unlock the chest, his only option is to sit, put his hands on his face and weep like a little child. It's like it was all about Greed!
    • Bonus points are given for weird reasons. The hero frees a prisoner who gives him valuable information and he obtains 1 LUCK point. He opens a box, freeing a regular mouse and getting a coin, and this gives him 2 LUCK points.
    • You are only allowed to eat meals when the text tells you you can. Next books have you eat a meal whenever you want. This is especially bad in the French translation of the Fighting Fantasy series, where the rules for Warlock of Firetop Mountain were copy-pasted for many of the other books... making players unable to eat their meals at all.
  • Happy Dance: If the ghoul kills you, she will dance of joy around your body before placing it for her meal.
  • Have a Nice Death: A whole paragraph/reference is given for if you are killed or paralyzed by the ghoul. Said ghoul is very happy to have a fresh meat at her disposal.
  • No Name Given: Zagor is not directly given a name. He is only referred as a warlock during the story. "Zagor" is only mentioned in a paper somewhere in the maze.
  • One-Hit Kill: You can kill Zagor instantly if you have the Cyclops's Eye.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: You face a big dragon before getting to Zagor. You can either fight it regularly, or use a special spell that will make it hurt by its own fire. "Make fire, like fire, fire fire, di Maggio."
  • Red Herring: The Y-shaped stick. Even if you decide to use it in the final fight, it will be revealed as having broken. So, we will never know if it had special abilities or not.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: You come across some giant rats.
  • The Undead: The middle part of the Dungeon is infested with undead and has you fighting Zombies, Ghouls and a Vampire. Oh, and the aforementioned skeletons.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: You find a servant being cruelly whipped by his master. If you decide to attack the latter, expecting the other to help you, he will instead join him in fighting you.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You find a dwarf getting tortured to death. You can actually join in the torturing, with an Evil Laugh to boot!
  • Weaksauce Weakness: One of Zagor's weak points is his playing cards. You can decide to burn them off and he turns into a weak old man.


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