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Here we enter classic Fighting Fantasy; Forest of Doom. This is the eighth book in the successful Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, this time written entirely by Ian Livingstone. Once again it is set in the popular setting of Allansia and re-introduces us to the Darkwood Forest and the wily wizard Yaztromo.
Book Description: Only the foolhardy would risk an encounter with the unknown perils that lurk in the murky depths of Darkwood Forest.
Yet there is no alternative; for your quest is a desperate race against time to find the missing pieces of the legendary Hammer of Stonebridge - fashioned by Dwarves to protect the villagers of Stonebridge against their doom. Part-story, part-game, this is a book with a difference - one in which you become the hero! A pencil and an eraser are all you need to make your journey. YOU decide which route to take, which creatures to fight and which dangers to risk.
Within this book you play the part of the standard 'Free sword', a Sword-for-hire adventurer who wanders around Allansia looking for work. At the start of the adventure you are just beginning to settle down by your camp fire for the night when you stumble across a dying Dwarf from the village of Stonebridge far to the north. With his last words, the Dwarf tells you about the theft of his Dwarven King's great Warhammer and his quest to retrieve it. The Warhammer was accidently dropped into the sinister Darkwood Forest while being flown south from Stonebridge.
With the stage set you have to enter the Darkwood Forest, attempt to discover the Warhammer and thus save the Dwarven town of Stonebridge from disaster. Your only clue to the whereabouts, is that the Hammer was divided in two by two Goblins, who then went their separate ways.
This book is different from the previous books in the Fighting Fantasy series in that their is no major enermy to fight and defeat at the end. Your quest is simply to find two pieces of the legendary Dwarven Warhammer and then deliver it to the Dwarves of Stonebridge. The story-line is very good and there are some interesting moments which save this from complete obscurity.
Within the book, several places and characters of Allanisa make their first appearance. The first feature is the appearance of Yaztromo the Wizard. The wizard dwells within a vast tower built by the Dwarves and Elves of Darkwood for his assistance over the years. The character eventually crops up in a number of other Fighting Fantasy adventures and novels.
Darkwood itself, a vast ancient forest that prior to the Great Earthquakes and War of the Wizards grew from the Forest of Fiends to the Forest of Yore also makes its appearance as a maze-like wilderness that houses the two pieces of the Hammer which are fairly easy to find. One you almost find at the start and the other locked in a crypt. We lastly also meet Stonebridge, home of the Dwarves. Ancestors of the Redweed City in Firetop Mountain, the Stonebridge Dwarves become a common occurance in the Fighting Fantasy series and novels, ruled over by King Gillibran Axecleaver III.
The book itself has a wide range of good puzzles, traps and creatures to encounter. You get to explore lots of different places in a wilderness rather than dungeon setting. For collectors and fans, an excellent if easy adventure. It also has a brilliant re-working by Martin McKenna of one of the best ever covers of the Fighting Fantasy series by Ian McCaig and fine interior detailed artwork by Malcolm Barter who sadly never illustrated any other Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.
About the Author: Ian Livingstone