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on 24 February 2013
Long before `weapons of massive destruction' became a commonplace phrase Fighting Fantasy already had its own weapon of mass destruction. This book is essentially Fighting Fantasy with the equivalent of a Death Star. Nothing quite like the eponymous tower appeared elsewhere in FF until the comeback of the series and the publication of the new adventure `Stormslayer'. The tower and the smaller prototype sphere the reader encounters are masterful steam-punk creations. They are advanced technological monstrosities powered by elemental and demonic forces.

The adventure has a great construction. It feels episodic in a good way as each episode develops out of the previous and each are quite different in style. The first part of the adventure involves a fairly linear chase through the wilds of Northern Allansia. The addition of the `time track' and the use of provisions in a more authentic way (rather than just as a STAMINA restorer) help to make your pursuit quite pacey and intense. The `time track' statistic is something that works much better on the first read through, however. Once you realise it doesn't actually make much difference to the course of your adventure the intensity it creates is greatly lessened.

The bulk of the adventure takes place within the Ice Palace and this is where the book excels over any other game book. In complete contrast to the chase section this is completely non-linear as the reader is allowed the opportunity to explore an extensive complex in whatever order they choose. It perfectly captures the sort of three dimensional environment found in some videogames. It is an exceptionally detailed and well-conceived invention by the author which completely sucks the reader in. The exploration of this magnificent but dead city is eerily disturbing.

The tower and sphere sections are, in many ways, the basic infiltration of a building found in many gamebooks. These have a twist in that they are airborne and the tower has enough originality to it to make it stand out.

As usual for a Keith Martin FF book there are a host of brilliant and interesting characters, several of which you can meet more than once in your adventure. Elokinan is an honourable, intelligent elf lord in the vein of Elrond. Tasrin and Tassakil are two further allies that are believably drawn by the author. Your opponents may be quite dark elf and ice ghost heavy but that doesn't stop there being some quite imaginative monsters being included (especially the golem style creatures). The two main villains are fantastic. Zeverin is everything you could ask for from an evil dark elf sorcerer and the fact that you can clash with him three times throughout the course of the adventure makes him seem much more a part of it and much more fully rounded than many gamebook villains that appear just for the finale. The twist involving the main villain is the highlight of the book for me. It comes as quite a surprise; one of the best ever in a gamebook.

Although not one of the hardest of FF books this can be quite a bit tricky. This mainly revolves around how you do things and in what order in the Ice Palace. It is very easy to make a mess of this section and several attempts are probably needed. There are also some of the most fiendish puzzles to be found in any gamebook. Be prepared to put the book to one side on occasion to spend some time wondering over the puzzles. None of the answers will come immediately and patience is definitely required. They do make logical sense when you finally work them out.

There are a few annoying editing errors that mar an otherwise superbly written adventure which possesses much imagination and atmosphere.
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