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Temple of Terror

(British cover)
(British cover)
(American cover)
(reissue cover)
Series: Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin) #14
Fighting Fantasy (2002-2007, Wizard Books Series 1) #19
Contained In: Adventure Gamebox - A Thrilling Fighting Fantasy Collection (Collection)
Translated Into: Chrám zkázy (Czech)
En la ciudad perdida (Spanish)
Hramat na uzhasite [Храмът на ужасите] (Bulgarian)
Kyoufu no shinden [恐怖の神殿] (Japanese)
A rémület útvesztője (Hungarian)
Der Tempel des Schreckens (German)
Le Temple de la terreur (French)
O templo do terror (Portuguese)
O templo do terror (Portuguese)
O Templo do Terror (Portuguese)
Adapted Into: Temple of Terror (Video Game)
Author: Livingstone, Ian
Illustrators: Achilleos, Christos (original cover)
McKenna, Martin (reissue cover)
Houston, Bill (interior)
Release Dates: April, 1985 (original)
March, 1986 (American edition)
April, 2004 (reissue)
ISBNs: 0140318321 / 9780140318326 (original)
0440985900 / 9780440985907 (American edition)
184046528X / 9781840465280 (reissue)
Length:400 sections
Sanselano's Thoughts: It's hard to know what to think about this one. On the one hand, the scope of the tale takes you across multiple locations, the difficulty is manageable if you know what you're doing, the Messenger of Death subplot is great and the quest objective is engaging. On the other hand, the book squandered a wonderful chance at exploring a lost city and ended with a weak showdown.

The plot is simple. Someone named Malbordus that was raised by the dark elves is on his way to the lost desert city of Vatos to acquire five dragon statues. He plans on using the statues to bring forth dragons, which will bring an era of darkness over the world. You volunteer to help the wizard Yaztromo stop Malbordus. To do that, you must reach the lost desert city of Vatos and snag the five dragon statues before Malbordus does.

One thing the book got right until the end was Malbordus. My roommate and I would refer to him as Malbordius because that sounds a lot better than Malbordus in my opinion. Every time I saw the name 'Malbordus,' I just pretended that I read 'Malbordius.' I was really hoping to something akin to having a sword duel against him on top of a dragon flying high above Vatos with both of us trying to gain the upper hand by the use of magic spells. Instead the showdown against him is underwhelming and really leaves the reader with the feeling: 'is this the best Malbordus can do?' Sure his stats are good enough but there is nothing to establish him as a memorable villain and the illustration of him is uninspiring, as are most of the illustrations in this book, the Giant Sandworm being the exception. For quite some time, I thought the cover illustration of the wizard edition was Malbordus but it turns out to be some other guy, which is disappointing.

The book has another antagonist who I won't spoil but this antagonist never really amounts to anything. I was hoping to face off this villain right after pulverizing Malbordus or something to that effect, but this character is vastly underused. Why were they even in the book at all, except to create circumstances that potentially sap your stamina?

Speaking of which, the difficulty is at least manageable in this book. A skill of 9 might be really pushing your luck but if you have a skill of 11 or better and know what you're doing, you should be able to make it through quite easily.

One thing confusing about the book is the sense of timing. Is the player in a huge hurry or not? A time elapse of fifteen minutes makes all the difference on whether you stop Malbordus or not in one of the endings. From this, I infer that the player character is rushing through the book, hacking down anything that gets in the way in a mad dash to get to the statues, but the player character's interactions with NPC's do not feel rushed in any way. Also, if stopping Malbordus is so important, why is only one adventurer sent? Why does Yaztromo not go himself? Why does the player character just stuff a sacrificial dagger in his/her backpack that can be acquired instead of using it as a secondary weapon, although to be fair, there is one point where it does come in very handy.

This book is not bad by any means but was a bit underwhelming. Perhaps the fault lay with my expectations.

More reviews by Sanselano

Special Thanks:Thanks to Nicholas Campbell for the jagged-logo British cover scan.
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