Demian's Gamebook Web Page
Sign Up · Log In

The Citadel of Chaos

(original cover)
(second cover)
(second cover)
(second cover)
(American cover)
(reissue cover)
(American reissue)
Series: Fighting Fantasy #2
Fighting Fantasy Reissues (Series 1) #2
Fighting Fantasy Reissues (Series 2) #2
Alternate Title: The Chaos-Castle (literal English translation of title)
Contained In: The Best of Fighting Fantasy (Collection)
The Citadel of Chaos: Software Pack (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Box Set 1 (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Box Set 3 (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Gamebox (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Gamebox 1 (Collection)
Translated Into: Barusasu no yousai [バルサスの要塞] (Japanese)
A cidadela do caos (Portuguese)
A cidadela do caos (Portuguese)
Citadela chaosu (Czech)
La citadelle du chaos (French)
La ciudadela del caos (Spanish)
JIRT HAIMIM [טירת האימים] (Hebrew)
Kaos-borgen (Danish)
Kaosborgen (Norwegian)
Kaose kants (Estonian)
A káosz fellegvára (Hungarian)
Mustan tornin valtias (Finnish)
Ondskans borg (Swedish)
Razrushitel' [Разрушитель] (Russian)
La rocca del male (Italian)
Die Zitadelle des Zauberers (German)
Adapted Into: The Citadel of Chaos (Digital Gamebook)
The Citadel of Chaos (Video Game)
Author: Jackson, Steve (United Kingdom)
Illustrators: Emmanuel (original cover)
Miller, Ian (second cover)
Corben, Richard (American cover)
Jenkins, Kevin (reissue cover)
Nicholson, Russ (interior)
Release Dates: March, 1983 (original)
November, 1983 (American edition)
May, 2002 (reissue)
October 1, 2003 (American reissue)
September 3, 2009 (series 2 reissue)
ISBNs: 0140316035 / 9780140316032 (original)
0440912806 / 9780440912804 (American edition)
0743475100 / 9780743475105 (American reissue)
1840463899 / 9781840463897 (reissue)
Length:400 sections
Number of Endings:19 instant failures, 1 victory, plus failure by inadequate inventory, insufficient spells or loss of Stamina points.
User Summary: You are a wizard-in-training sent to infiltrate the citadel of Balthus Dire, an evil demi-sorcerer. Your mission is to prevent him from unleashing an army upon the innocent Vale of Willow by assassinating him in his lair.
Braxus's Thoughts: It's interesting that Wizard chose this as their second to republish. Anyway, it's a Jackson adventure (these are always un-linear and original) so straight away it looks inviting (unlike Livingstone's typical unbalanced, linear plot). I remember this particular book well, as it's the first I drew a really detailed diagram for to solve; spoils it really! There's also Jackson's first attempts at a magic system, but it really isn't a very big part of the book.

The plotline here is pretty thin; it's just you, a known adventurer bravely heading into the castle of Balthus Dire, one of the three nasty Necromancers. Normal sort of FF story. The tension builds nicely as you make your way towards the keep itself in the darkness and you can actually convene with some of the guys outside, even if they're mistrustful.

The castle itself is a kind of strange, hallucinogenic place. All sorts of strange things happen in it, and you meet some weird animals. The suspense builds up, and everything seems to build towards an encounter with the GANJEES. They're some scary monsters, and you will have been warned about them several times - they're almost like a tollgate: you'll need the right items to go forward, else it's game over!

The balancing on the enemies is done very nicely, and it's fairly replayable. I really like the final encounter with Dire; it's not just another fight against a high skill enemy, it's far more exciting as you are able to choose the methods to beat him. However, I would say that the book overall is fairly unmemorable - with lack of a strong theme.

More reviews by Braxus

Demian's Thoughts: The first thing that struck me about this book was its magic system, which isn't nearly as interesting as Steve Jackson's later work on Sorcery! but which starts the adventure off on an interesting note by giving the reader a list of talents to pick from, Lone Wolf style. The next thing I noticed was the fact that the back-story seems very D&D-inspired, though this observation is based mainly on the conspicuous use of the phrases "Lawful Good" and "Chaotic."

Upon getting into the actual gameplay, I'd have to say that it's a more solid design than Warlock of Firetop Mountain, but it's somehow a bit less engaging. This may be partially due to the fact that I don't have as many nostalgic memories of this book than of the previous volume, but I'd say that the sometimes rushed-looking artwork and Steve Jackson's less-than-thrilling prose didn't help either. Jackson's talents definitely lie more with game design than with actual writing -- his text just seems flat most of the time, and his tendency towards padding out sections by mentioning passageways that you can't follow is simply annoying. I also found that some of his encounters (like the whirlwind-woman) feel utterly pointless and silly. He does deserve credit for the occasional amusing detail, though, and it was nice to know that female goblins do exist (see section 339).

Despite my complaints, there are a number of very nice features to the book. The challenge level seems about right -- you have to play quite a few times to win, but each time you play, you learn new and helpful things which can be applied to the next trip. It's also true that you can roll extremely awful ability scores yet still emerge victorious. Probably the highlight of the whole book is the final confrontation with Balthus Dire, which gives you a lot of options and keeps the tension high throughout. The fact that victory leads you to a potentially-unsatisfying ending is my only complaint about the whole end sequence, and the open-ended final paragraph isn't really all that terrible. Actually, I wish I'd read this book more thoroughly before writing my first Kobolds Ate My Baby! solo adventure, as the encounter with Tabriz in my book could have been enhanced by including a tribute to this scene. Oh well.

More reviews by Demian

Enigmatic Synergy's Thoughts: This was my first Fighting Fantasy read, and I must say, it truly was a blast. This gamebook has sat untouched on my shelf for at least the last 10 years, so I figured it was finally time to dust it off and explore a book that I had heard about throughout the years but had never personally experienced. The first word that comes to mind after having finally completing it is wow!

The Citadel of Chaos took me about 30 attempts if not more to complete successfully. I found the difficulty level to be rather high, much more so than other gamebooks I have read. Having never read a Fighting Fantasy book as a kid and as an adult, I was not quite sure what to expect in terms of role-playing. I was pleasantly surprised; this book was much more open-ended than I initially imagined it would be. After having been so accustomed to the traditional Choose Your Own Adventure-style gamebooks with little to no advanced role-playing mechanics (like dice), I was amazed by the pure breadth of options available on seemingly every progression in the book made possible through the use of the book's stat-keeping and dice-rolling.

I found the setting of The Citadel of Chaos to be very creepy and surreal--almost something out of the movie, Suspiria. Steve Jackson certainly has a great imagination, and his use of bizarre characters and unworldly depictions makes the journey(s) very intense and very memorable. The creatures that roam the Citadel seem to be something of a dream, or put more frankly, a terrifying nightmare. One may even suggest that an acid trip would be more appropriate in describing the cast of characters. While sometimes frustrating and even very random at times, I like the idea of needing certain items in order to advance to subsequent areas. I'm sure many fans of this book will remember the area that the Ganjees inhabit and how difficult it can be to pass that critical checkpoint. Many of my instant deaths occurred at this point; I spent the majority of my 30 reads trying to either take an alternative route to bypass the Ganjees (which, from my experience, one cannot do) or to find that must-have magical item needed to advance. While one can easily cheat and perhaps make it through this area quicker and easier, I prefer to take the more methodical approach and start again, and again, and again without any cheating whatsoever--personally, I find it to be much more satisfying in the long run.

As stated in other reviews, I found the final confrontation with Balthus Dire to be quite intense and memorable. Personally, I found this showdown to be almost equivalent to the video-game showdown of Link and Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Perhaps this is because it took me a multitude of attempts to finally reach the bad man himself, as was the case in the Zelda video-game. And when I did finally reach him, the battle really did feel like an epic boss confrontation that is a hallmark of so many classic video-games. The tense, back-and-forth action was great and concluded the book nicely once it was all said and done. Overall, this book was a fantastic experience that really made me appreciate the power of RPG gamebooks. Having no experiences and memories of the Fighting Fantasy books as a child, I can sincerely say that, as an adult, this series starting with this book has already had a great impact on me. I cannot wait to read more.

More reviews by Enigmatic Synergy

Errata:If you leave the library (18) to approach the dining area (31), it says you come from the Game Room. This is a bit jarring, but it doesn't seem to actually harm the flow of the adventure.
Special Thanks:Thanks to Brett Easterbrook for scans of the jagged and unnumbered versions of the second cover.
Users Who Own This Item: aehalpin, Alarion, AlHazred, andrewholt, Aniline, Ardennes (US), Asmoderan, auximenes, Avenger, B0N0V0X, badboybaggins, BarefootJimmy, Barker1952, Belgarath, Bellz666, bigcobra, BobaGabe, bonhomme, bookwormjeff (US) (UK), Braldt, Braxus, cayh_dilg, Citadel1963, convict7421, Count Heydrich, crazydave, Crazyscotsman, crispybacon, CSquared, Cyan, c_wickham (original cover), damieng, dArtagnan, Darth Rabbitt, dave2002a, dblizzard72, demon of the deep lt, desdichado66, devilsboy, Dirk Omnivore, domj29, Dronak (1st reissue in FF Box Set 3), drystan, eadric (This is a hard bound former library copy.), Eamonn McCusker, Ed, edwebb, egokun, evilspoon, exaquint, Ffghtermedic, Fido815, firefoxpdm, Fullerton (US), Gallicus (Standard Edition), Gamebook, Gamebook Collector, Gartax, Gibraltar, Gillibran, girtablilu, gnomeza, Graham, greyarea13, Grifter, Gurvo (U.S. ), Haoie, hoops4ever, Ian2405, Icedlake (original & second cover), Janner, jeff3333, JiPi (Alternate Cover), Jonman99, jr, Jubal (UK), juski, katzcollection, khaxzan, killagarilla, killagirilla, kinderstef, kleme (American edition), knginatl (US orig., UK orig. numbered, UK reissue (S1) ) (US orig., UK orig. numbered, UK reissue (S1)) (US orig., UK orig. numbered, UK reissue (S1)), Lambchop, le maudit, lewstherin, liam0404, Luke, MacbthPSW, Malthus Dire, MarcusP, marnaudo, MasterChief, mattender, mir1812, mlvoss, Mpro, nelsondesign, NEMO (american cover, green on top (brit. edit.)), nerelax, nev, Nich, nicolau (Spanish ed. Timun Mas), odo_ital, Office Linebacker_, Osirian08, outspaced, Pessimeister (Whirlwind dragon version), peterm2, Pirrakas, plowboy, plutonick (whirlwind woman cover), Pol_K, Pseudo_Intellectual, qazplm (Green stripe), redpiper05, Robert123 (Good fun.), Rozo, ryderark (Spanish Altea Version), Sabreman, saint_k, Salpynx, sebastian, sick_boy, Sir Olli (UK & US), sireeyore (original cover), SkarnTasKai (UK (number in red circle), US), skeleton, snakefire77 (2 originals (one first britisch reprint with old cover and one '85 britisch edition)), Soul Reaver, spragmatic, StagQuests (US), strawberry_brite, terrysalt, ThaRid (2 copies), thevagrant, Treguard, Tremendez, Trompe-l Oeil, truce57 (U.S. orig), twar, Twoflower, umbra682000, Uraniborg, Virtua Sinner (First dice rolling gamebook I ever owned), Wardog, wreade, xinuz, Yalius, zat, Zolika
Users Who Want This Item: BobaGabe (good, less based on stats), bookwormjeff (US), Grifter, horrorbusiness, Househeart, jeremydouglass, killagarilla, Morthynmir, Mr ?, mrwalker, NEMO (original cover,second cover) (reissue&american reissue), Nomad, ThisIslandEarth, twar, Von Scotty, Waluigi Freak 99, yermither
Users with Extra Copies: Cyan
devilsboy
Fireguard - US version, in decent shape
Gartax
Gibraltar
Ian2405 - 2003 Edition Wizard Books
kinderstef - x 2 (one classic, one with whirlwind woman cover)
Luke
mattender
Pirrakas
snakefire77 - one britisch edition in very good condition
twar - (UK) 2nd Printing. Creases on cover. No pen/pencil markings. Store stamp on inside first page.

Please log in to manage your collection or post a review.

Related Documents

Play Aid

Fighting Fantasy # 2 Character Sheet

Bibliography of Items About "The Citadel of Chaos"

Article

Map of the Kingdom: Allansia, The Land of Fighting Fantasy