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The Temple of Flame

(British cover)
(American cover)
Series: Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks #2
Contained In: Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks Box Set (Collection)
Translated Into: Le Dieu perdu (French)
Honou no shinden [炎の神殿] (Japanese)
Jagten på Ildgudens hemmelighed (Danish)
Il tempio di fiamma (Italian)
El templo de la llama (Spanish)
Adapted Into: The Temple of Flame (collector's edition) (Gamebook)
Authors: Johnson, Oliver
Morris, Dave
Illustrators: Elettori, Bruno (original cover)
Warhola, James (American cover)
Hartas, Leo (interior)
Release Dates: December 13, 1984 (original)
March, 1986 (American edition)
August 2, 2013
ISBNs: 042508762X / 9780425087626 (American edition)
0583307485 / 9780583307482 (original)
1909905046 / 9781909905047
Length:300 sections
User Summary: You venture into a remote jungle region in search of a temple built by a lost civilization, which is thought to contain a priceless idol. Along the way you discover your evil nemesis is looking for the relic as well...
Guillermo's Thoughts: This is historically an important book, as it marks the beginning of the collaboration between Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, who would later author the famous Dragon Warriors RPG. It's also the second gamebook set on Legend, presumably on the continent of Mungoda (though that name is never explicitly used). Regardless of these facts, it's a very high-quality gamebook, surpassing Crypt of the Vampire in practically every respect: the writing is excellent overall, much better than the average gamebook. Furthermore, the plot line involving the player's archrival is well- developed, and the villain is both well-characterized and a deadly foe. The adventure's setting is amazing: the book begins with a rather short jungle trek infested with danger, but the majority of it takes place inside a Mesoamerican-like pyramid. The authors do a very good job of blending the trappings of the fantasy adventure with the historical elements so that neither of them becomes dominant, and so the book conveys an eerie and enigmatic atmosphere that most other gamebooks I've read do not easily achieve.

The book is very challenging overall. Many opponents are very tough (more than the average in Crypt of the Vampire), not to mention the many instances in which you have to fight three or even four strong enemies simultaneously. There are many possible wrong turns and traps for the careless, so there are several chances for the player character to be maimed or just killed outright. A successful path through the adventure will also demand tough skill checks. However, for some reason the book does not feel that frustrating; it could be that the monsters are creatively designed and portrayed (some of them having some interesting attack forms). Another reason could be that encounters are creatively devised, and thus experimenting with weird items or tactics contributes a good deal to the fun.

Yet another reason why I liked the adventure so much is that there are many possible paths which lead to the final goal, yet one is much easier than the others, so that the player soon realizes the real challenge of the adventure is finding that particular path. Despite the fact that a successful journey through the pyramid feels satisfying enough, none of the paths through it are very long, so starting over doesn't feel like a chore. The traps are often conceived in such a fiendishly clever way that even instant deaths do not feel that frustrating. On the negative side, the 'true path' (to use an Ian Livingstone euphemism) is rather convoluted and counter-intuitive, and this is the aspect most likely to cause frustration in a first-time player.

Come to think of it, my only gripe with the book is that the design is a little weak in places – in addition to what I already mentioned, it could also be pointed out that the jungle section of the adventure contains a lot of unnecessary danger, and perhaps could have been better designed. However, these flaws can be forgiven if one takes into account that, despite some rough edges, the adventure's general design is quite good.

Overall, I consider this the best book in the series, and one of the best gamebooks ever written. Definitely a winner.

More reviews by Guillermo

utfanatic's Thoughts: This is an excellent gamebook with a few shortcomings.

In it, you play a Noble Knight of Palados, off to explore an ancient temple. The reasons for you doing so are never fully explained... are you there to plunder it? Are you there for achaelogical reasons? Regardless, you discover that your old enemy, Damontir the Mad (which ironicially was his name while you were previously adventuring with him... hmm... should have been a hint?) has discovered its location first, which gives you an incentive (revenge) to beat him to the punch. What is odd is that at the end of the adventure, you refuse to loot the temple or disturb an ancient idol because that wouldn't be appropriate for a Knight of Palados... umm... then why are you here in the first place?

As well, in the American copy, you are forced to ignore the fact that you are portrayed as a child on the cover, yet are clearly a battle-hardened adult throughout the text.

However, that aside, the adventure and backstory are excellent. The flavor of an isolated jungle and lost temple within it are communicated brilliantly, and the writing is truly top notch for a gamebook. There are many items to find, almost all of which prove to be handy or essential at crucial points in your quest. But there are so many items to find that it obviously becomes difficult for the authors to allow you to bring all appropriate items to bear in certain situations. For instance, you can take a spear you find along the way. Toward the end of the book, when standing in front of the idol and facing Damontir in battle, you discover that being in close proximity to the idol renders you immune to Damontir's magic. But are you given an option to stay within this protective radius and hurl your found spear at him? No, you are forced to charge him from your protective perch, opening yourself up to far more danger.

There are so many different paths to take and so many different areas to explore that the replayability factor of his book is incredibly high. What's more, it holds your attention almost the entire time. I was rapt through most of the book. The authors also do an excellent job of letting you backtrack and choose choices you had previously dismissed.

However, there are a LOT of ways to die in this book. The battles can be incredibly tough. I think the battle concept in this book is ingenious, but quarrel with the execution. For instance, if battling a single opponent, you roll 2 dice. On a roll of 1-6, you lose 3 vigour. On 7-12, your opponent does. If facing multiple opponents, you may need to roll at 8 to even hit one for 3 points max vigour lost. I would have liked some roll outcomes where both you and your opponent lose various pts of vigour and some outcomes where you could do more than 3 points of damage to your opponent as well.

Healing is hard to come by. If you didn't stumble upon the one healing chalice I found, I'm not sure how you would heal at all. However, even with this chalice, the adventure is next to impossible to complete without dying. There are multiple tests of agility and psi. Some of these are next to impossible. For instance, the highest agility or psi you can have is 9, and a more realistic score is 6 or 7. For some tests you need to roll LOWER than your agility or psi on 3 dice rolls in order to succeed!

In sum, this is an excellent story, superbly written, and a great adventure, with wonderful encounters and characters. It is sullied only somewhat by the immense difficulty of the battles and agility and psi tests. Still, it gets a big thumbs up from me.

Rating 1-10: 8.5

More reviews by utfanatic

Errata:In some copies of this book, sections 63 and 64 are missing.
Special Thanks:Thanks to Gartax for the errata, Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary and Dave Anderson for the British cover scan.
Users Who Own This Item: aehalpin, andyr, Aniline, Ardennes (US), B0N0V0X, BarefootJimmy (reissue), Belgarath, bigcobra, bookwormjeff, Braxus, Crazyscotsman, CSquared, dArtagnan, dave2002a, domj29, Dronak (reissue), Ed, edwebb, EegahInc, egokun, exaquint, firefoxpdm, Fireguard, Gartax, gnomeza, greyarea13, hoops4ever, horrorbusiness, juski, karalynn, katzcollection, killagarilla, killagirilla, kinderstef, knginatl (US), le maudit, Malthus Dire, marnaudo, mattender, mir1812 (FLP), mlvoss, Morthynmir, nelsondesign, nerelax, Nich, outspaced, pelle, Pessimeister, Pirrakas, Pseudo_Intellectual, Radjabov, redpiper05, Robert Mammone, Sabreman, sebastian, Sir Olli, sireeyore, spragmatic (US), StagQuests (UK), Tamerlane1396, ThaRid, tonk82, Tremendez, truce57, Twoflower, Uraniborg (USA), utfanatic, Vampireman (reissue), Von Scotty, Yalius, Zolika
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