The cover of The Shamutanti Hills, the first chapter in the Crown of Kings storyline (1983).
Art by John Blanche.
Sorcery! is a single-player four-part adventure gamebook series written by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Blanche. Originally published by Penguin Books between 1983 and 1985, the titles are part of the Fighting Fantasy canon, but were not numbered within the original 59-book series. Sorcery! was reissued by Wizard Books in 2003 and was also released on iOS in May 2013 (with an Android edition forthcoming.)
The Sorcery! series was published by Penguin Books (and later by their Puffin Books imprint) as four individual titles, beginning in 1983 with The Shamutanti Hills, followed by Kharé: Cityport of Traps and The Seven Serpents in 1984, and The Crown of Kings in 1985.
Each title could be played as an individual adventure or as part of the overall story arc. The series was supported by the Sorcery! Spellbook, published in 1983, which was eventually incorporated as an appendix into the four titles in later printings. A boxed set titled Sorcery! was released, containing both The Shamutanti Hills and the spellbook. The series was reissued by Wizard Books in 2003.
Cambridge-based studio inkle released an interactive version of The Shamutanti Hills on 2 May 2013 on the iOS platform, with apps for the subsequent books under development.
Sorcery! features several mechanics not present in previous Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. The principal difference is the ability to choose between playing as a warrior or a sorcerer. As a sorcerer, the player is weaker in combat, but has access to 48 spells, with each appearing as a three-letter word that has to be memorised by the player. These range from ZAP, which creates a lightning bolt from the finger, to the mysterious ZED, the effects of which are unknown. When given the option to cast spells the player is presented with a small selection of these three-letter words to choose from; the player is encouraged to choose from these without consulting the spell listing. It is also possible to fail to cast at all, as false spell words are placed alongside correct choices. All spell choices, irrespective of the outcome, incur a Stamina penalty.
Warriors and sorcerers share the ability to call on the character's patron goddess, Libra, once each adventure. The goddess can perform a range of services, such as providing an automatic escape from a situation, restoring lost Skill/Stamina/Luck points or curing a curse.
The series features strong continuity: it is possible for a reader to use the same character – complete with any upgraded abilities and equipment – through each of the titles, and also use hidden clues found in one title to assist with a situation in another. Each title also features dice images at the bottom of each page, making it possible for the player to randomly "flick" through the pages for the equivalent of a dice roll.
Your search for the legendary Crown of Kings takes you to the Shamutanti Hills. Alive with evil creatures, lawless wanderers and bloodthirsty monsters, the land is riddled with tricks and traps waiting for the unwary traveller. Will you be able to cross the hills safely and proceed to the second part of the adventure – or will you perish in the attempt?
The story is set on the fictional Fighting Fantasy world of Titan, on the continent known as The Old World. A powerful artefact known as the Crown of Kings, which bestows magical powers of leadership upon its owner, has been stolen from the land of Analand by the cruel Archmage of Mampang Fortress. With the Crown, the Archmage will be able to gain leadership of the lawless and brutal region of Kakhabad and begin an invasion of surrounding kingdoms. The player takes on the role of the lone hero, referred to only as the Analander, who has been dispatched to retrieve the Crown, thereby averting the invasion and saving Analand from terrible disgrace.
The quest itself is divided between the four titles in the series. The first book, The Shamutanti Hills details the player's attempt to navigate the hills and plains surrounding Analand while defeating various monsters and avoiding traps. The second, Kharé – Cityport of Traps, relates the player's attempt to pass through the city of Kharé and find the four lines of a spell required to open the Northern Gate and allow an exit from the city. In the third book, The Seven Serpents, the player crosses the Baklands, a vast and dangerous wasteland, attempting to find and defeat seven magical serpents: servants of the Archmage who are travelling to warn their master of the Analander's approach. The final book in the series, The Crown of Kings, details the player’s attempt to find and penetrate Mampang Fortress – stronghold of the Archmage – and defeat the enemy before reclaiming the Crown of Kings.