Author: Jamie Thomson & Mark Smith
Illustrator: Bob Harvey
Cover Illustration By: Peter Andrew Jones
Map Inset: No
"The once-peaceful world of Orb is in terrible danger. Dark forces are
at work to unleash the awesome might of the Evil One - and only YOU can
stop them. YOUR mission is to destroy the Talisman of Death before the
dark lord's minions reach you. But beware! Time is running out..."
Here's an unusual little book written by the team of Jamie Thomson & Mark Smith. It takes place on the world of Orb, a planet much like Titan, with not very much in common with Earth, where you were spirited away to begin this adventure. You must be cautious in your new surroundings, for many of the savage creatures outside the cities, and the militant peoples inside the cities, would sooner stick a knife in your ribs than look at you. High initial rolls would help, as in all Fighting Fantasy books, but especially because you are almost certain to be disarmed at some point the adventure (-2 skill), and there are a lot of powerful enemies to be overcome. Any encounters with the undead will also cause you to lose skills points, so taking the Potion of Skill isn't such a bad idea.
Your task, unlike what the back of the book tells you, is not to destroy the Talisman of Death, since it cannot be destroyed, but to bring it to another world where the creatures of Orb cannot reach it. So you must first discover how to get off the planet, then combat all manner of creatures that somehow know you have the Talisman. They will stop at nothing to reclaim it before reaching your destination.
Although the book is not exceptionally difficult, there are quite a few traps to be overcome, such as various encounters with Tyutchev, the Thieves' Guild, the Red Dragon Inn, Hawkana, the Dragon, and many other events. Also difficult is the fact that the authors decided to allow you to fight 2 or more difficult opponents almost consecutively. These people have 10 or 12 skill, and are not easy to overcome when you aren't carrying a weapon anymore!
There are also the standard devices used in many FF books, where the story ends unless you have a particular item. Fortunately, a level-head will lead you to the right solution most of the time. Remember not to take what people have to say at face value. This book also has an interesting twist where you avoid death. Everytime you reach the valley of the dead, you are spirited away to fight again with the same dice rolls as when you started, minus all your items. This is good when you don't want to re-roll your character. Unfortunately you have to start from the beginning again, but oh well.
The ending is, unfortunately, disappointing, and the plot is not as developed as it could be. But there are plenty of diversions in the city to keep you interested. Overall, I'd recommend this book as above average reading material. As an afterthought, I remember starting the book with flint and tinder to "combat the terrors of the night", and being told to "guard them with my life," but I never ended up using them.
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