The Fighting Fantasy series has had a very good year so far; with the book series back in print (and producing new books), a new interactive game and a highly successful regular convention, it seems the franchise is back. It’s no surprise it’s hard to kill, any Fighting Fantasy player knows that avoiding death is as easy as turn a page.
The latest offering into this high-fantasy canon is an audio drama inspired by the first FF book, Warlock of Firetop Mountain. We open with the elf, Vale Moonwing (voiced by Rachel Atkins) having a chance encounter on the road and being appropriately brave and defiant. Vale is an elf on a mission, to kill the evil wizard Zagor (Toby Longworth). Zagor is, of course, the titular warlock who lives on a mountain with lots of red weed at its summit. Along the way she encounters Cassius Stormblade (Tim Treloar), a human adventurer who’s not good with thinking but very handy with a blade, and the two team up; Cassius on a mission of mercy and greed and Vale on a heroic mission to murder the elderly.
As adaptations go, it’s fairly on the nose. If you’ve played the original game book this drama is inspired by, then you’ll recognise many of the early encounters and ideas from that story. The tale nails the feel of the Fighting Fantasy series perfectly; humans are greedy (but capable of excellence), elves are haughty (but wise) and the bad guys are not just bad, they positively cackle with vengeful glee. The narrative makes much of the various choices the characters make and Zagor himself seems extremely delighted whenever a decision needs to be made. The story uses the clichéd device of the evil wizard being able to see the heroes coming, and though his conversation is rather limited, Zagor’s scenes do frame the story nicely.
Toby Longworth is clearly having a lot of fun as the Warlock, taking a welcome break from the various heroes he usually gets be in audio dramas. Overall, it’s exactly what you’d want a drama based on the Fighting Fantasy series to be. This is clearly the first in a planned long running series, and we’ll be unsurprised if we hear the voices of some of these characters again. Warlock of Firetop Mountain – The Heroes Quest is a good start to what will hopefully become a long running fantasy audio franchise.
WARLOCK OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN – THE HEROES QUEST / DIRECTORS: RICHARD FOX, DAVID N. SMITH / STARRING: TIM TRELOAR, TOBY LONGWORTH AND RACHEL ATKINS / PUBLISHER: FOX YASON MUSIC PRODUCTIONS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW