And I highly doubt The Crown of Kings is able to be completed without completing the three before it. I guess.
Regardless, the book begins as the others did - with the assumption your character, if not you, has completed the previous three. It's a little disconcerting, considering there's no explanation in the intro, bar the usual blurb familiar from The Shamutanti Hills.
It's like dropping in on Arrested Development two seasons in, or Lost at any point that isn't the pilot.
So, night's approaching, and I have to choose from three caves - small, medium or large. Who am I, Goldilocks? Still, I chose the smallest cave, because you know, it felt just right. Or something.
There's a monster of sorts in there - I can't see it, but it sounds horrific. Time for a spell! No matter I can't remember what does what - come on, I've died how many times now? Can't expect my memory to be that great. HOW! Don't have an orb crystal. KIN! No gold-backed mirror. Fuck it, I'll just use my sword.
It's a jib-jib - the tribbles of the FF world. Great. Still, for some reason it's guarding a parchment I can't read.
The next day, I leave, taking some dust and three - and only three - pebbles with me. Heading on across a rope bridge, I'm soon confronted by a bird man. It won't translate the scroll for me - so I blast it with a magic fireball and stab it to death. That's how I've decided to roll - at least till I run out of stamina to waste on awesome magic tricks.
I stop to rest in another cave, this one has a message from a guy called Colletus (the slack-jawed yokel?), who's hanging out by the 'Groaning Bridge', apparently.
After a non-moaning bridge, I'm confronted with a ridiculously dangerous landslide. I know it's ridiculously dangerous, because it took me four lives to get past. Yeah, I died. Four times. But I didn't think any Fighting Dantasy entry should be fewer words than pages in the book being reviewed! I tried HUF - pretending my reanimated corpse still carried the Galehorn from The Seven Serpents - and died. Tried ZIP, and died. Tired NIF, mostly because it was on offer, and died (it creates a pungent smell. I'm not sure how it would have worked - perhaps the smell would attract a pterodactyl, Riddling Reaver or deus ex machina who'd whisk me away to safety?) . ROK? Um, rocks are already rocks. Dead.
WAL is the one.
Moving on, we're pretty much outside the fortress. Stabbed a couple of guards as they drunkenly slept, ate their food, usual Saturday night stuff in the suburb I live. Although they obviously had grog and food, they must've had nowhere to sleep, 'cause I had to sleep in another cave. Not sure where I found a cave at the gates to the fortress of Mampang.
Anyway, Libra came to me in a dream (no, she couldn't translate my scroll either). "At each stage of the journey, you have been successful." LOL. Anyway, she says she can't help me once I'm inside the fortresses - so I take the luck and stamina bonuses now.
Just as well too - at the actual gates there are four guards, none of them sleeping. I DUM one of them into a stupor, and narrowly slay the other three. Five stamina points left.
Once in the gates, it's as if I'm back in the land of the three bears - three doors to choose from, etc. Except this time, I choose... poorly. I found three Black Elves (who couldn't translate my scroll either). So far so good. Being on only five stamina points, I thought I'd try and befriend them. So far again, so good. But then...
I wasn't asked to test my skill or luck or anything. It was just assumed this would be my attempt at befriending a group of Black Elves.
"So, how do you black-skinned creatures keep from bumping into each other at night?"
Oh dear. They were apparently "deeply insulted" by my "harmless remark". I'm not at all surprised they kill me. I guess it was 1985, and it was still cool...
Weird way to end the series, huh?
Anyway... the link I mentioned last night is now tidied up. As in, if you click it, you get my current musical endeavour's website, etc. The album's free to download in some formats, so go nuts. Can't say it has a huge FF influence, though the next one - almost done already - might.