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Item - Caverns of the Snow Witch

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(Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st])
(Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st])
(Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st])
(Original (American))
(Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
(Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W))
(Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W))
(Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
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Combined Summary

Series: Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin) — no. 9
Fighting Fantasy (2002-2007, Wizard Books Series 1) — no. 10
Fighting Fantasy (2017-, Scholastic) — no. 14
Contained In: Fighting Fantasy Box Set 4 (Collection)
Translated Into: La bruja de las nieves (Spanish)
As Cavernas da Bruxa da Neve (Portuguese)
As cavernas da feiticeira da neve (Portuguese)
A feiticeira das neves (Portuguese)
A hóboszorkány barlangjai (Hungarian)
Die Höhlen der Schneehexe (German)
Isheksens huler (Danish)
Jeskyně sněžné čarodějnice (Czech)
Legovishteto na snezhnata veshtitsa [Леговището на снежната вещица] (Bulgarian)
MKFPT HFLG [מכשפת השלג] (Hebrew)
La Sorcière des Neiges (French)
Yuki no majo no doukutu [雪の魔女の洞窟] (Japanese)
Adapted From: Caverns of the Snow Witch (Mini-Adventure)
Adapted Into: Caverns of the Snow Witch (Role-Playing Material)
Caverns of the Snow Witch (Digital Gamebook)
Author: Livingstone, Ian
Illustrators: Courtney, R. (Original (American) - cover)
Edwards, Les (Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st] - cover; Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W) - cover; Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front) - cover; Scholastic (Porthole) - cover; Original (Dragon, Black text) - cover; Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only) - cover; Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Unnumbered) - cover; Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W) - cover; Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays) - cover; Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing - cover)
Ward, Gary (interior)
Crosby, Edward (interior)
Dates: October 25, 1984 (Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st])
May, 1985 (Original (American))
2003 (Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
2003 (Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
April, 2003 (Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W))
ISBNs: 0140318305 / 9780140318302 (Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st], Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
0440911265 / 9780440911265 (Original (American))
1840464321 / 9781840464320 (Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays), Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
Length: 400 sections (Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st], Original (American), Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front), Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Unnumbered), Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only), Original (Dragon, Black text), Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays), Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
Number of Endings: 24 instant failures, 1 victory, plus death by Stamina loss or bad Luck. (Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st], Original (American), Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front), Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Unnumbered), Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only), Original (Dragon, Black text), Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays), Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
Special Thanks: Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st]:
Thanks to James Thompson for the cover scans.
Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W):
Thanks to Ryan Lynch for the back cover/spine/title page verso images.
Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays), Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing:
Thanks to Ryan Lynch for the images.
User Summary: A simple job involving the protection of a caravan eventually turns into an expedition into the icy passages of the evil Snow Witch....
Demian's Thoughts:

After a bit of blessed relief, we're back into nasty territory again. This book is Ian Livingstone at his worst: a linear sequence of excessively difficult but not especially interesting encounters complete with a stupid, luck-based guessing game poorly disguised as a climactic battle. This sort of thing is growing extremely tiresome. A character with a Skill of less than 10 simply stands no chance (despite what the lousy lying introduction says), and since the book is a long sequence of tough fights followed by lots of random ways to die senselessly, reaching victory is not challenging, it's merely frustrating. Although the final few events of the book are fairly interesting, most of the story is so weak and dull that it does nothing to redeem the awful gameplay. We have the same orcs and dwarves we've seen before, the most original creature in sight is the Brain Slayer (a lame rip-off of D&D's Mind Flayer), and the Snow Witch herself doesn't really do anything to distinguish herself as a memorable villain.

Some of the book's problems are likely due to the fact that it is an expanded version of an adventure from Warlock magazine. In the original version, the reader kills the Snow Witch and it's all over. In the book, though, that's only the halfway point, and there are lots more irritating locations to die horribly in. Every time the book seems to be about finished, something new, unrelated and tedious seems to crop up. Even after the whole Snow Witch plot is over, you still have to suffer through lots and lots of random events and obstacles featuring mostly-gratuitous references to early entries in the series, eventually revealing this story to be a prequel to The Forest of Doom. This adventure wasn't anything special to begin with, and apart from a couple of nifty moments, this added material only makes it overstay its welcome further. I suppose it could be said that the book has more NPC interaction and a more epic scope than previous volumes, but for these features to be significant, they'd have to be well-executed. Since they don't manage to be all that interesting, only long and irritating, they barely seem worth mentioning. The only real improvement in the book over the magazine version is the new artwork, which has a quite appealing semi-woodcut-like look to it. Interesting stuff!

I've probably said it before, but it's worth saying again. A well-designed gamebook allows a reader to quickly retrace his or her steps up to the point of death upon each replay or at least try out some new things along the way. If, by the time a player has explored every possible path, he or she still ends up dying off consistently near the beginning of the story, something is obviously wrong, and the gamebook is clearly not going to be very much fun. This book suffers from this problem severely, and it's an unforgiveable flaw in my opinion. The only good that came of the whole mess was that I figured out a way of streamlining combat resolution: roll two different-colored pairs of dice at once and see which pair rolls higher; it's faster than rolling one pair twice and is easier on the memory. Not especially clever, I admit, but helpful nonetheless.... In any case, even this accelerated combat wasn't enough to help me win -- eventually I resorted to designating computer-RPG-inspired "save points" so that I wouldn't have to struggle through the early stages of the book over and over. Yeah, it's technically cheating, but my conscience is mostly clear.

More reviews by Demian

Fireguard's Thoughts:

I don't mean to knock one of the game designers without whom there would be no Fighting Fantasy, but I've always found Ian Livingstone's solo books to be on the dry side. He likes to make you look for lots of little items and most of the time not having them is quickly and severely punished. Caverns of the Snow Witch is no exception, but given where it originally appeared perhaps it's not all the author's fault.

Still, I found the experience to be on the tedious side, and the epilogue quest feels somewhat tacked on. I can't imagine a lot of thought went into it. This is a minor complaint but this also felt kind of jarring when it turned out to be chronologically previous to a book from earlier in the series. Only for the hardcore Fighting Fantasy readers among us.

More reviews by Fireguard

JDMorgan's Thoughts:

I played this one on the iPhone Fighting Fantasy app. The app gives you 3 different difficulty settings. I always play the standard setting which apparently allows for you to place bookmarks, which I actually haven't used as of yet because I just forget you can even do that. One thing that is nice when it comes to rolling up your stats, fighting, or rolling for luck or skill tests, is that you can bump the dice rolls 3-4 times to make them more favorable. When it comes to these books, I don't mind fudging on the dice roll bumps, but I won't cheat by claiming to have items I don't or to have met or encountered things I haven't, but the app automates all that making it easy. So, yes, I will cheat my dice rolls all day. I don't care. I'm the most badazz adventurer ever to walk the Fighting Fantasy Earth so my dice rolls reflect how awesome I am. All your items and important clues or events that come into play later are automatically catalogued which is nice. There's no need to keep your own stat sheet. Only thing you might do is mapping because the built in map feature is just a flow chart that quickly becomes confusing if you look at it. I like to map on Windows Paint as I go.

I did not even beat this book. After a few spins, I started mapping the ice caverns, at which point things got much easier. I had really high stats to start with, and I made it through to the second coming of the Snow Witch where you basically play paper, rock, scissors. After that it went into the final section of the book where you learn the note that pissed the dwarf off was a death curse and you end up going through so many more luck tests that my luck ran out. I'm sure there's a way to win, but the amount of times I had to be lucky was ridiculous and even if you start with a luck score of 12, odds that you run it down to 2 or 3 and eventually die because of it, are very high.

The opening part of this book is just okay. Nothing too challenging and fairly easy intuitive decisions to make prior to arrival at the caverns. I enjoyed the ice dungeon part once I took the time to do the mapping, but as for the final section, I just have zero desire to go through this book again to see the end. I just don't care enough when I have so many other books lined up to play. Like many have said before about this one, the final section is just tacked on in order to expand the original story into a full book format. In a way I think the ongoing twist at the end is somewhat interesting story wise, but the book really feels like it should be over once you beat the witch the second time.

The original artwork is kind of cool. It works well in some instances with the unique style and looks kind of silly other times. The new artwork is mostly lame computer generated stuff with no soul. The app gives you the option between the original or new artwork.

So hopefully it's okay to review a book I never actually beat because like I said, I have way more interesting ones I'm planning on going through and don't want to waste any more time on this.

More reviews by JDMorgan

Kveto's Thoughts:

This is a new one for me, just finished it recently. It's a pretty decent entry in the series. I got the reprint with the sexy vampire woman on the cover.

It starts off with you hunting a yeti for pay, then learning of the evil snow witch and searching her caverns. It took me at least 10 tries to get through this one. Don't expect to win with a character with less than 12 skill points as there is at least one skill 12 opponent you must face (a birdman, who doesn't look that tough). And don't skip any combats. Attack everything in sight, otherwise you won't pick up necessary items as there are loads of instant deaths.

The adventure is fairly linear, which makes replays somewhat annoying. What I did like is the way the book turns the classic narrative on its head. When you kill the Witch and get her treasure horde the adventure doesn't finish there, you are only halfway done. You later acquire some companions, which is a nice change of pace from the usual solo trek. The book even adds continuity to the series, referencing Firetop mountain, the Forest of Doom and others.

The artwork is poor, very unmemorable compared to the Lizard King. One picture almost litigiously resembles Conan. Just in case you're wondering, Conan has a skill of 9 in the FF world.

More reviews by Kveto

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Users Who Want This Item: bookwormjeff (US), Cyan, duckymolmol, EarlOfDrumer, exaquint, Househeart, jeremydouglass, JiPi, killagarilla, Lambchop, Mr ?, mrwalker, NEMO (original cover and yellow puffin) (reissue), ThisIslandEarth, twar, Von Scotty, Waluigi Freak 99, yermither
Users with Extra Copies: Cyan
Gibraltar - original green band cover

Known Editions

Original (Zigzag), UK 1984 1st printing (C&W) [1st]
Original (American)
Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front)
Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Unnumbered)
Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only)
Original (Dragon, Black text)
Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W)
Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W)
Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays)
Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing
Scholastic (Porthole)

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