Other Fighting Fantasy Books
Location Amarillia
Publication details
Author(s) Ian Livingstone

Illustrator Iain McCaig
First Edition
Cover illustrator Iain McCaig
First published November 1987
Publisher Oxford University Press
ISBN ISBN 0-19-279791-3
Cover illustrator: Iain McCaig
Publisher: Penguin Books
First published: November 5 1987
ISBN: ISBN 0-14-031970-0

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"References Needed!" Hamaskis demands it
For other uses of Casket of Souls, see Casket of Souls

Casket of Souls is a Puzzle Book by Ian Livingstone, originally advertised as a PuzzleQuest Book, that is set in the world of Amarillia which would later be further explored by Livingstone and linked to the world of Titan in Legend of Zagor and The Zagor Chronicles. Like Steve Jackson's The Tasks of Tantalon, it contains puzzles which are hidden in both the text of the book as well as the pictures, and like The Tasks of Tantalon was renowned for its difficulty. Compounding this, the answers to the riddles and puzzles are not provided at the end.

Creation[edit | edit source]

This book was first mentioned in issue 3 of Warlock, as one of two PuzzleQuest Books that were in production.[1] Issue 5 described the two books in more detail as large hardback books, beautifully illustrated with full-colour plates. The books would involve quests in which "readers must search carefully for the answers to problems which are hidden in the illustrations and also in the text."[2] The books were said to be harder to solve than the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. The first mentioned was Steve Jackson's The Tasks of Tantalon, illustrated by Stephen Lavis to be available around July/August 1985. Casket of Souls by Ian Livingstone was the second, and would be available by Easter 1986. This was not the case because the book did not appear until 1987. The Tasks of Tantalon was published in hardback by Oxford University Press originally, and was explicitly a PuzzleQuest Book as per the inside slip page of the book. It was later published in March 1986 by Puffin Books as a softback Fantasy Questbook. However, Casket of Souls, although also published (in hardback) by Oxford University Press contained no reference to being a PuzzleQuest Book. This may be as a result of the delay in its printing. It was simultaneously published in softback by Penguin Books and therefore never formed part of the Puffin Books Fantasy Questbook series.

Background[edit | edit source]

I am Sallazar, spirit guardian of the kingdom of Amarillia. For two hundred years I was the keeper of an artefact of magical energy, so powerful that its creation took the lives of eleven grand wizards. It was a casket that could imprison a demon and was made to defend Amarillia in its darkest years. And when the demon came, I awoke ready to trap it with the casket. But I gambled and lost. I was obliterated and rematerialised on the plane of shadows, unable to escape. Yet the demon can still be annihilated by the casket. There is a hidden spell that can open it. I will lead you to it. Please help for there is no other hope left to us.

Casket of Souls - Back Cover

The early pages of the book set the scene and tell the reader that the creation of the casket took the lives of eleven of the twelve grand wizards and only Sallazar remained. The casket was locked with a powerful spell. Sallazar takes the role of the reader's guide through the book and explains that when he had seen the Demon would soon arrive, he placed a word of the spell, which would open the casket, on each of the twelve Royal Magical Treasures and hid them throughout the kingdom. However, he left the casket unprotected whilst doing this and the Demon was able to retrieve it and destroy Sallazar in the process. Sallazar became Amarillia's spirit guardian, trapped on the Plane of Shadows.

The quest was therefore to locate the 12 Royal Treasures and uncover the 12 spell words to open the Casket of Souls and trap the evil Bone Demon. The treasures are hidden in 12 visions or pictures in the book.

Competition[edit | edit source]

When the book was published there was a competition whereby once the reader had defeated "the dread Bone Demon by uncovering the spell hidden in [the] pages [of the book]" the reader could send their answer on a postcard to "Department Sallazar" at Penguin Books. The winner of the competition would win the original golden Casket of Souls model, hand sculpted by Citadel Miniatures directly from the artwork of Iain McCaig. An added incentive to enter was that "EVERYONE who enters this fabulous competition will receive Iain McCaig's exclusive 'Amarillia - The Final Chapter' fantasy poster, absolutely FREE and only available with Casket of Souls."[3]. The competition was only open to residents of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the closing date was 14 February 1988.

Cover and Illustrations[edit | edit source]

The Casket of Souls is perhaps best known for its lauded and highly acclaimed full colour illustrations by Iain McCaig. The artwork has been reproduced a number of times, not only the covers of magazines (such as White Dwarf issue 96) but also on related books (such as the The Zagor Chronicles, all four of which feature an illustration from Casket of Souls) and notably on an even smaller scale Steve Jackson's Battlecards series. The combination of author, Ian Livingstone, and artist, Iain McCaig was the continuation of a trend that had seen these two combine successfully on a number of the earlier Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, notably, The Forest of Doom, City of Thieves, Deathtrap Dungeon and Island of the Lizard King.

The cover of both the Oxford University Press and Penguin Books editions were almost identical save that the Penguin edition had the Penguin logo in the top right hand corner and a difference in the advertisement for the "FREE MEGA FANTASY POSTER" in the bottom right hand corner in a yellow triangle, where the Penguin edition specified the competition was in the UK only. Similarly, the back covers were all but identical, except for the publishing companies credit and pricing (£5.95 for the hardback Oxford University Press edition and £3.95 for the softback Penguin Books edition). Both editions advertised the competition on the inside front cover, but in the hardback edition the first slip page is blank before a title page appears. Interestingly, the Penguin Books edition states on both the title page and the inside back cover that it is "Penguin Books in association with Oxford University Press", yet the Oxford University Press edition does not mention Penguin Books anywhere.

A third edition exists, published by Oxford University Press which has the same illustration on the front but has no mention of the competition or Free poster. Also the back cover does not have the price. This suggests it is a non-UK edition. Also the wording on the front cover (at the bottom of the illustration) reads "Solve the ultimate mystery and crush the demonic force that threatens the Kingdom of Amarillia" whereas on the UK editions (both Penguin and Oxford) the wording reads "A dazzling prize awaits the champion of Amarillia! Solve the demon riddle and you could win a GOLDEN CASKET".

Casket of Souls Cover Variants
1987 1987 1987
CasketofSoulsOxford.jpg CasketofSoulsPenguin.jpg CasketofSoulsOxfordNonUK.jpg
OU Press
Penguin Books
OU Press
Non-UK Edition
£5.95 £3.95 N/A

Other Media[edit | edit source]

Intertextual References[edit | edit source]

  • In the encounter with the Inquisitor (the guardian of the path to the inner sanctum of Firetop Mountain) in Return to Firetop Mountain, the player, if successful, is invited to peruse his library. Of the books in the library, five are named and two of these are titles of other books by Livingstone: Casket of Souls (which you do not get to read in the book) and perhaps more interestingly Eye of the Dragon which in reality would be written as a gamebook over 12 years after Return to Firetop Mountain was published.[4]
  • In Ian Livingstone's Temple of Terror, you can meet the artist Murkegg who has painted a twenty metre long wall mural depicting a great battle:
A mass of undead, whipped on by vile Orcs, are pushing back an army of men and Dwarves. The leader of the undead is hidden by dark robes, apart from his fleshless, reptilian skull. His cold, evil, green eyes stare threateningly from the mural. He appears to be holding a casket, which is drawing in the spirit of the king of the men and Dwarves, for whom the battle seems lost.

Temple of Terror - 161

The appearance of the undead's leader and the casket he holds is indicative that this is probably the Bone Demon from Casket of Souls.

Main Characters[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Further Notes[edit | edit source]

  • White Dwarf issue 96 featured an "Illuminations" article on the Casket of Souls artist Iain McCaig and the cover of the magazine was the cover of the book Casket of Souls.

See Also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Warlock Issue 3 - pg.5
  2. Warlock Issue 5 - pg.10
  3. Casket of Souls - Inside Front Cover (UK editions only (both Penguin Books and Oxford University Press versions))
  4. Return to Firetop Mountain - 18
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