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Summary

Join elven hero Vale Moonwing and adventurer Cassius Stormblade on their quest through the depths of Firetop Mountain. 

Can they survive the deadly traps and evade Zagor's army of the undead? Can they stay alive long enough to confront the dark warlock himself?

©2017 David N. Smith (P)2018 Fox Yason Music Productions Ltd

Critic reviews

"[E]xactly what you’d want a drama based on the Fighting Fantasy series to be.... The tale nails the feel of the Fighting Fantasy series perfectly." (Starburst Magazine)

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What listeners say about The Warlock of Firetop Mountain: The Hero’s Quest

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SPOILER WARNING: Avoid to save you a disappointment

While I was more than happy to discover that the old fighting fantasy game books are being adapted into canonised audiobooks, after listening to this, the first story in the series which adapts the first book I ever brought from the series, I felt let down by the cheesy, stale and dull way the story played out.
Naturally when adapting any form of role-playing game, you have to cut out a lot of pre-existing content to make an entertainment package succinct enough for consumer’s palates. This I had no issue with, as the original story did proceed with a series of random monster encounters of various sizes and threat while finding the keys to Zagor’s treasure chest.
The canonised protagonist, Vale Moonwing, was neither compelling or bad, and older for a YA game book protagonist than I expected, which would have been a welcome twist to the tired old trope of the young adventurer filled with a sense of destiny. Yet she is a but a very one dimensional elf woman armed with a very basic motive and quest to kill Zagor, the warlock of firetop mountain.
To ensure that the protagonist does not spend the time narrating to herself her actions and reactions to the obstacles she will encounter, she is accompanied by a rugged welsh-sounding adventurer and treasure hunter named Cassius Stormblade, whose purpose is to be Vale’s foil, a companion with an additional, more selfish motivation to enter firetop mountain, while additionally seeking a dwarf friend of his being held prisoner by Zagor.
Zagor is your standard one dimensional moustache twirling devilishly British warlock who is evil just because and so naturally seeks to stop Vale from slaying him. He is aided by his whip slinging Orc Chieftain and underling played by what appears to be a black British man, not exactly an ideal casting choice considering the originally problematic conceptions of orcs as racialised evil ‘Other’ humans through the white Eurocentric lenses employed by Tolkien and his anti-saracen swarthy depictions of orcs, Robert E.Howard with black races in Conan and the earlier Christian colonial demonisation of First Nation and native tribesmen that influenced the orcs in dungeons and dragons. A performance is a performance but we deserve better than having black and people of colour continuing to be cast in monstrous roles in the white dominated realm of high fantasy.
The story plays out at a surprisingly fast speed. I started it while running and finished it while sat in the garden within an hour. It wasn’t exactly an enthralling, immersive story compared to the Titans on this platform like Neil Gaiman’s various adapted works on this platform, and I made myself stay with the audio book just to see it finish and if it had the narrative hook for me to want to purchase the next story. It did not.
This was a very run of the mill, cliched, unoriginal, non-atmospheric and quite frankly a boring fantasy romp. While it pays tribute to the famous moments in the books that players of the game loved, it left a lot to be desired as a fantasy story. The music is cheesy and 80’s and droll, and the acting was standard, with the writing and the emotional pulls failing to convince me to continue listening to the series.
As gutted as I was to be writing such a negative review and slandering an adaption of the game book series that fed my imagination as a kid, there are much better works out there to spend my runs and breaks listening to. This needs to be adapted much better and with more investment than a sub-par fantasy audiobook.
If you’re a nostalgist and wish to reminisce on your first fighting fantasy game book which happened to be firetop mountain, by all means indulge a credit for an evening listen. If you are cursed with high expectations like myself, avoid this by a mile and look into works done by BBC Radio 4 and Audible Originals.

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Profile Image for Douglas Bryenldson
  • Douglas Bryenldson
  • 19-07-20

The Traditional Fantasy audio drama I wanted

About 15 years ago I tried to create a traditional fantasy audio drama series in college but couldn’t get the funding or participation that I needed to make it work. This is exactly how I envision a perfect realization of my original idea. Fighting Fantasy Audio Dramas are a continuing, serial story arc with interesting traditional fantasy characters including Elves, Dwarves goblins, Orc’s, wizards,warlocks and many other Tolkienesque / D&D tropes. It is very well written, very well conceived, very well acted and overall very well realized. I also felt a hint of nostalgia hearing David Warner‘s incredible voice again after spending hundreds of hours with him in the classic PC RPG Baldur’s Gate II as the mysterious Jon Irenicus. If you like D&D - you should really try the first of these audio dramas and see if it sucks you in like it did me.