The Best Fighting Fantasy Books

10 December 2022
Fighting Fantasy books brought so many gamers into the hobby, and with so many out there, which are the best of the bunch? At just over forty years on from the first being published, we look at the ones you'll want to turn to.

Words by Andrew Brassleay, updated for web by Charlie Pettit

10. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain 

The original Fighting Fantasy book remains one of the best. Okay, that Steve Jackson-designed maze still tests the patience as you try to get to the evil wizard Zagor’s domain (and, rather unheroically, nick all his treasure) after all these years, but this is where all the quests began.

Part story, part game, you can find Warlock of the Firetop Mountain on Amazon.

Content continues after advertisements

9. Armies of Death

Ian Livingstone advanced Fighting Fantasy's standard lone adventurer narrative and gave the hero, flush with cash after winning the Trial of Champions, an army to manage. The battle section is a lot of fun, as you steer your troops against an undead horde.

Buy Armies of Death on Amazon

8. Seas of Blood

Andrew Chapman’s third book in the Fighting Fantasy series also switched from the lone traveller. This time, the reader takes on the persona of a ruthless pirate captain, travelling the inland sea, sacking seas and battling monsters while trying to win a bet against a fellow crew in an inventive tale.

You can buy Seas of Blood on Amazon

7. Night Dragon

Fighting Fantasy as a series was published under different publishers and authors over the years. Keith Martin’s late-era Puffin-published gamebook Night Dragon, saw adventurers take in a gothic, end-of-the-world journey, travelling across Allansia and finding unlikely allies. One of the few stories in the series that felt truly epic in nature.

Buy Night Dragon on Amazon

6. Appointment with F.E.A.R.

Steve Jackson took Fighting Fantasy’s setting to an alternative Earth in which you are the (super)hero in Appointment with F.E.A.R. Readers got to pick their super-power to fight – who else – a sinister organisation seeking to take over the world. As one of the few books to go beyond the standard 400 sections, there was a lot for the Silver Crusader to explore.

Buy Appointment with F.E.A.R. on Amazon

5. House of Hell

Another of Steve Jackson’s absolutely brutally difficult tales, in House of Hell we play a weary traveller, stuck in a storm, who, rather unfortunately, rocks up at a desolate mansion that just happens to be run by a hellish cult with its very own resident demon, and has to battle their fear as well as the undead residents. Kicking up a bit of a moral panic on its initial publication, what’s more upsetting is that virtually every turn into a new corridor will find a way to kill you.

Buy House of Hell on Amazon

4. Legend of the Shadow Warriors

Author Stephen Hand’s clear love of horror shaped his Fighting Fantasy work – Dead of Night (written with Jim Bambra) and Moonrunner incorporated nods to MR James, Hammer Horror and slasher horror movies. His second title in the series was no exception, with Legend of the Shadow Warriors offering a genuinely creepy tale of a former mercenary attempting to help villagers against an undead horde of warriors. Martin McKenna’s illustrations only added to the eerie atmosphere.

Buy Legend of the Shadow Warriors on Amazon

3. Deathtrap Dungeon

Deathtrap Dungeon is an instant gamebook classic. Ian Livingstone sent our hero underneath the city of Fang to earn their fortune in a battle of strength, skill and wits against the evil Baron Sukumvit’s lair. The main problem? No one else has ever survived it before. There are some great set-pieces in this story and Livingstone even managed to inject an element of pathos into the series for the first time, thanks to the fate of poor old barbarian, Throm.

Buy Deathtrap Dungeon on Amazon, and even amusingly, a Deathtrap Dungeon Colouring Book

2. Sorcery!

OK, yes, not one gamebook but four, Steve Jackson’s own Fighting Fantasy masterpiece Sorcery! has travellers journeying across the dangerous realm of Kakhabad to regain their kingdom’s magical crown – without which it faces a future of despair and poverty. Not only does the reader take in forests, deserts, dungeons and cities on their quest, but Jackson deployed an extra layer into proceedings with its complex spell-casting mechanism, and accompanying spell book.

Buy Sorcery! on Amazon

1. City of Thieves

Ian Livingstone’s original, and best, city quest was City of Thieves, which introduced some series regulars – the rotten, corrupted city of Port Blacksand and the reclusive wizard Nicodemus. Your aim is to rid a village of the skeletal wizard of Zanbar Bone’s evildoings, but it’s the getting there that really counts, as dealing with BlackSand’s despotic guards, criminal residents and unruly shopkeepers is about as much fun as a gamer can have with 400 written passages, two dice and a pencil.

City of Thieves is available on Amazon


Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products


No comments