Golden Dragon Gamebook #2: Temple of Flame

Well, after yesterday’s adventures in the Crypt of the Vampire, I’m rather eager to push on to the next book in the series, the Temple of Flame, which appears to have an Aztec theme to it according to the cover. This one is by Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, two names I trust, so I think this one is going to be good. The rules are the same as before, with no funky extra statistics to worry about - though based on the last book, Vigour is the most important. 

 Breaking out my trusty dice, I roll up my character’s statistics. This time I end up with a Vigour of 28, a little worse than last time, but with an Agility of 8 and a Psi of 6. This one is a lot more dexterous than before, and I have hopes that his odds of success will be higher. I am directed to name my character once again, and given the theme, I select the name Montezuma. Or Monty, for short. I trust that there will be many opportunities for me to get my revenge! And heck, this time I start with a magic sword! No need to delve for it in some tomb, I get given it. Why do I suspect I’m not going to be able to hold onto it? 

 Apparently, three of us are wandering around in a chamber, all Knights of Palados - whoever that might be - including Damontir the Mad. And come on, selecting someone nicknamed ‘The Mad’ for any sort of expedition is an exercise in stupidity anywhere. Have him guarding butterflies in the Jungle of Obscurity, not on some sort of a secret mission. Your other ‘friend’ Valedor, is walking down a corridor when his magic sword sets off a trap, and he falls to his death, almost taking you with him. Great, some magic there! Damontir just walks off, rehearsing his role in Raiders of the Lost Ark, presumably. 

 Then my character wakes up - apparently this all happened years ago, and you have been trying to revenge yourself ever since. As a Dragon Knight of Palados, you are the greatest warrior in the world. Well, there was this guy named Thodd who was stronger, but he wandered into a forest and was never seen again. My quest is to explore a temple of Katak, the Flame God, knowing that Damontir is already there. So I do get to have my revenge after all! Splendid! I start out wandering through the mud-splattered, fetid jungle, wearing full armour and probably dying of heat exhaustion. The Spanish wore cotton armour for a reason in Mexico and Peru. 

I stumble across a monkey being transfixed by a viper, and tempted as I am to let nature take its course, I leap into action against the viper. As a reward, the monkey - leaving his nuts alone for a moment - shows me a secret path through the jungle, getting me around some quicksand. He then decides to follow me into battle...this can only end badly. My new friend and I move on through the jungle, getting to the grave of a lost noble. Being a man of great honour, naturally I must have a look at what is inside. Success - there is loot! A sceptre and a pectoral. Both go into my backpack, and Monty heads back to civilization in order to retire to a life of luxury from his booty. No, wait, instead he heads off into the jungle, hacking his way into the undergrowth. 

And there it is...the Temple of Katak, lost for centuries to the jungle, and I have found it! I have discovered it! I alone… Wait a minute, there are two men-at-arms wandering around. Curses! Well, I suppose I can’t lurk in the shadows, ambush them, bury them and all their friends, then return to civilization and deny all knowledge while claiming the discovery for my own. Right? Turns out - surprise, surprise, they work for the evil Damontir. I charge them, while they shoot arrows at me. Because I am the greatest warrior on the planet, but my tactical brain...less good. Somewhat pincushioned, I dive in to attack! I kill one of them, but am almost killed in the process. The remainder races off into the undergrowth, preferring to risk jaguars and snakes than the nearly-dead greatest warrior ever. 

On the bodies I find a hipflask of gin and some gold...excellent! The gin might not heal me, but if I drink it all, I probably won’t care anymore. I stagger to the top of the temple, the monkey Minki on my tail, and find a sleeping sentry. Naturally, as a Knight, I can’t just murder him in his sleep - knocking him cold doesn’t occur to me, so I wake him up and fight him, hacking him to death while he struggles to wake up. Because that is honourable. Stealing his spear, I see an obvious way down - probably a trap - and it starts to rain. I suppose a dark and stormy night is in the offing. Avoiding the trap, I suddenly feel compelled to touch some mysterious glyphs. Somewhere, I think, the fat lady is doing her warm-ups. 

And she is right to do so, because I am then insta-killed by a trap. Without even making it into the damn temple. All that Damontir will know is that two of his guards ran off one night; he probably won’t even know why! Well, according to the rules I have set myself, my adventure ends there. I found this book very atmospheric, actually, and there is a good sense of wandering through an unexplored land. Though I didn't get anything like as far as I did in Crypt of the Vampire, I did get the sense that this was a deep book.

Generally speaking, I’m going to say that the standard of writing is a deal higher than in the normal Fighting Fantasy books - heresy, I know - but these books seem to be rather deadlier. Once again, I get insta-killed, and while last time I had a chance to avoid the trap, this time there was none. Not even a chance to use my amazing Agility score to duck out of the way, or something like that. Still...a good book. Recommended.

This book is available in print at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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