This page is no longer being updated. For the new version, click here.

This six-book series is based on the ITV fantasy game show of the same name. As in the show, players race through the dungeon of Knightmare Castle, attempting to complete quests before their Life Force runs out. The rules used by the books are simple, generally only covering Life Force, inventory management and spell-casting. The first four books were released by Corgi and the last two by Yearling; these latter two books are larger-format than their predecessors and are designed for a younger audience.

I believe that the information on this page is complete. If you find any errors, please send an e-mail to me at

 1. Knightmare
Authors: Tim Child and Dave Morris
Illustrator: Uncredited
First Published: 1988
ISBN: 0-552-52540-5
Length: 144 pages (pp. 7-107 are a novella, pp. 109-144 are a 105-section gamebook)
Number of Endings: 34 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
Plot Summary: In the novella, Treguard the Saxon battles to reclaim his ancestral home and to defend England from an ancient evil. In the gamebook, the reader goes on three missions in the Knightmare dungeon.
My Thoughts: The novella portion of this book is quite good, a well-written fantasy quest which presumably provides some interesting background information on the characters from the television show (which I've never seen, unfortunately). The gamebook isn't nearly as interesting as the novella, though this is not necessarily the fault of the authors. From what I've heard of the show, it seems as if this book is about as good a representation as could be written; unfortunately, participating in a simulation of a TV game show just isn't as interesting as playing a good old-fashioned gamebook, and the quests end up feeling both repetitive and overly simple. The adventure does have its good points, however. The way it makes use of information from the novella makes reading the whole book satisfying, and there are some interesting design elements: the cheater trap in section 44 is kind of amusing, as is the unreachable "Easter Egg" section (reference 42, in case you're wondering). A few death scenes also raise a chuckle. The only real flaw of the gameplay (apart from its excessive simplicity) is the fact that the Life Force Clock is a bit confusing to keep track of. Fortunately, Life Force is used differently in later volumes in the series to make things less ambiguous.

 2. The Labyrinths of Fear
Author: Dave Morris
Illustrator: Uncredited
First Published: 1989
ISBN: 0-552-52608-8
Length: 89 pages (novella), 170 sections (gamebook)
Number of Endings: 22 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
Plot Summary: In the novella, Treguard meets an old foe and travels to a mysterious and dangerous wood; in the gamebook, the reader encounters characters from the novella and goes on a quest related to Treguard's earlier difficulties.
My Thoughts: The novella here is a decent sequel to the previous book's storyline, making good use of continuity and featuring the same high-quality level of writing. Its story doesn't have quite the epic feel of the last book's (no threats to the whole world this time), but the story still works on its smaller scale. The gamebook is a definite improvement over its predecessor, having a greater sense of purpose and being more directly related to the story in the novella. It's not perfect, however, since it's still rather short and feels a bit plotless in comparison to the novella. Nonetheless, the entire book is a good read on a whole.

 3. Fortress of Assassins
Author: Dave Morris
Illustrator: Uncredited
First Published: 1990
ISBN: 0-552-52638-X
Length: 113 pages (novella), 156 sections (gamebook)
Number of Endings: 14 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
Plot Summary: In the novella, Treguard searches for the lost heir of Richard the Lionheart; in the gamebook, the reader visits Knightmare Castle and goes on a fairly standard adventure through it.
My Thoughts: Interestingly (if unsurprisingly), this book includes a brief thank-you to Oliver Johnson, a gamebook author who has worked with Dave Morris on several occasions. As with its predecessors, the book's novella is by far its strongest part, nicely expanding on Morris' interesting interpretation of King John's England and once again using continuity with earlier books to great effect. With its movement from frozen mountains to heated deserts, it's an excellent adventure story. Unfortunately, the gamebook segment is the worst yet. It's about as pointless as the one in the first book, having little or no relation to the novella, and it also manages to feel far too short and generally unsatisfying. The only notable thing about it is that it is the first adventure in the series to make use of a six-sided die, and this is by no means a good thing, since it simply adds new and random ways of dying. It's definitely a shame that the excellent writing and storyline of the novella couldn't somehow have been applied to the interactive section of the book...

 4. The Sorcerer's Isle
Author: Dave Morris
Illustrator: Uncredited
First Published: 1991
ISBN: 0-552-52714-9
Length: 115 pages (novella), 159 sections (gamebook)
Number of Endings: 11 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
Plot Summary: Both the novella and gamebook deal with quests for the Holy Grail, though the novella follows Treguard and the gamebook allows the reader to do the adventuring.
My Thoughts: This is a good book. The novella is entertaining as always, once again drawing in characters from the past and making interesting use of figures from legend. Its ending is fairly impressive, and it marks a suitable conclusion to the books in this series aimed at older readers. The gamebook segment is definitely better than its immediate predecessor, though perhaps not as strong as the second adventure in the series. It adds a few new rules, requiring its reader to keep track of Armour, Dexterity and Chivalry points in addition to the usual Life Force, Inventory and Spells. The adventure also has more flavor than its predecessors due to the fact that it is the first to leave the confines of Knightmare Dungeon. Unfortunately, its downfall is its length -- it is far too short, making even a successful quest seem rather brief and unsatisfying.

 The Forbidden Gate
Author: Dave Morris
Illustrator: Jan Thwaites
First Published: 1992
ISBN: 0-440-86317-1
Length: 71 pages (novella), 97 sections (gamebook)
Number of Endings: 10 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
Plot Summary: In the novella, three children from the present day somehow find their way to Knightmare Castle; in the gamebook, the reader must travel to a distant island and retrieve the egg of a dragon.
My Thoughts: The change in tone between the last book and this one is definitely dramatic. The gritty and historical stories of the past four books have been replaced by an exaggerated, anachronism-filled tale more reminiscent of the Zork books than anything else. I can't say I'm pleased, though the book is not without merits. The novella, if nothing else, is admirable for including a blind character without being heavy-handed about it. The gamebook, though the shortest so far in terms of sections, actually feels much lengthier than early adventures, and by forcing the reader to choose from a long list of skills (ranging from seafaring to gambling), it flows slightly differently on each trip through. Additionally, codewords are used to keep track of certain events, meaning that things early in the adventure can change events later down the line. While it's a shame that the feel of the earlier books could not be retained in the changeover to a younger audience, at least some creativity went into the game design...

 The Dragon's Lair
Author: Dave Morris
Illustrator: Arkadia
First Published: 1993
ISBN: 0-440-86328-7
Length: 70 pages (novella), 123 sections (gamebook)
Number of Endings: 10 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
Plot Summary: In the novella, a boy from the twentieth century finds himself involved in a mission for Treguard involving the protection of a dragon egg; in the gamebook, the reader searches for a kidnapped future king.
My Thoughts: While I believe at least one other Knightmare-related book was published, this is the last to include a gamebook segment. The book's novella isn't bad, benefitting mostly from having a fairly interesting protagonist, but it ends a bit abruptly, and its plot seems a little strange in light of the subject of the gamebook section of the previous book. The gamebook here is decently designed, once again using codewords for continuity and lasting a fairly decent amount of time, though it isn't as challenging as its predecessor and it lacks a real sense of purpose since the assigned mission is rather vague. Not a bad end to the series, but certainly not as strong as the first four volumes.

The End:
Final Comments on the Series

I was quite fortunate to collect this entire series quickly and unexpectedly; an eBay win covered most of it, and the couple of books missing from that lot were easy enough to find. Excited by my acquisition, I had to make a priority of reading through it. I'm glad I did, though most of the good points of these books come from their novellas and not their interactive portions. It's interesting to see this much continuity in a series that had one-year gaps between the release of its volumes; one wonders if they were written more closely together than they were published. Also interesting is the fact that the advice given in the very first book holds true throughout the series even though not all of it is repeated -- most vital is the fact that one can rarely go wrong by taking a right-hand path; this certainly aided in my rapid completion of the series. Now I just need to see an episode of the TV show; my curiosity is piqued...

Demian's Gamebook Web Page (c) 1998-2003 Demian Katz