Fighting Fantasy Gamebook
Location: Allansia, Titan
References: 400
Publication Details
Author(s): Ian Livingstone

Illustrator(s): Iain McCaig (Puffin/Wizard versions)
Vlado Krizan (Scholastic version)
FF5 Original.jpg
Cover illustrator: Iain McCaig
First published: September 1 1983
Number 5
ISBN: ISBN 0-14-031645-0
Previous Book: Starship Traveller
Next Book: Deathtrap Dungeon
Wizard (Series 1)
Cover illustrator: Martin McKenna
First published: September 2 2002
Number 5
ISBN: ISBN 1-84046-397-X
Previous Book: Creature of Havoc
Next Book: Crypt of the Sorcerer
Wizard (Series 2)
Ff6new sml.jpg
Cover illustrator: Martin McKenna
First published: February 4 2010
Number 6
ISBN: ISBN 1-84831-113-3
Previous Book: Creature of Havoc
Next Book: Bloodbones
Cover illustrator: Robert M. Ball
First published: August 3 2017
Number 2
ISBN: ISBN 1-40718-126-2
Previous Book: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
Next Book: The Citadel of Chaos

For other uses of City of Thieves, see City of Thieves

City of Thieves is a single-player role-playing gamebook written by Ian Livingstone, illustrated by Iain McCaig and originally published in 1983 by Puffin Books. It was later republished by Wizard Books in 2002 and 2010, and again in 2017 by Scholastic Books with new illustrations by Vlado Krizan. It forms part of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy series. It is the 5th in the series in the original Puffin series (ISBN 0-14-031645-0), 5th in the Wizard "Series 1" (ISBN 1-84046-397-X) and 6th in "Series 2" (ISBN 1-84831-113-3), and 2nd in the Scholastic series (ISBN 1-40718-126-2).



Terror stalks the night in Silverton!

The prosperous town of Silverton is being held to ransom by Zanbar Bone and his bloodthirsty Moon Dogs. YOU are an adventurer, and the merchants of Silverton turn to you in their hour of need.

Your mission takes you along dark, twisting streets where thieves, vagabonds and creatures of the night lie in wait to trap the unwary traveller. And beyond lies the most fearsome adventure of them all — the tower stronghold of the infamous Zanbar Bone!

Two dice, a pencil and an eraser are all you need to make your journey. YOU decide which route to take, which creatures to fight and which dangers to risk.

City of Thieves - Back Cover ("Dragon" Edition)

Events begin when the player arrives one evening in the town of Silverton which is being terrorised by Moon Dogs set upon the population by an angered Zanbar Bone. It was the refusal of the mayor, Owen Carralif, to hand over his daughter Mirelle ten days ago that precipitated this situation and it is Carralif who tracks the player down at The Old Toad tavern in order to convince the player to take on the task of slaying Zanbar Bone.

How to Fight the Creatures of the City of Thieves/Equipment and Potions/Hints on Play[]

  • The book in general follows the original rules set down in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (see Game System).
  • In the Wizard "Series 2" edition, instead of rolling the stats for a character as per tradition in Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, the player has the option of choosing a pregenerated character from three choices (see "Further Notes" below for choices).

Equipment List[1][]

In the course of events in the "Background" the player is given 30 Gold Pieces.[2]

Cover and Illustrations[]

Main article: City of Thieves (illustrations)


The original cover of the book was designed and illustrated by Iain McCaig.

When the book was republished by Wizard in 2002 a new cover was designed and illustrated by Martin McKenna. Their 2010 edition makes use of a section of the previous edition's cover art.

The 2017 edition featured a new cover by Robert M. Ball.

City of Thieves Cover Variants
1983 1984 1987 1989 1990 1993
FF5 Original.jpg FF5 Green.jpg 05 18.jpg 05 18.jpg Figfan05n.jpg
Colour Star Adventure
Dragon ver.I Dragon ver.II Dragon ver.III Dragon ver.IV
£1.501 £1.502 £2.253 £2.254 £X.xx £X.xx

2002 2002 2010 2017 2018
Figfan05r.jpg 05 V2(W1) 01.jpg Ff6new sml.jpg CitySch.jpg COT.png
Wizard Wizard
£4.99 £4.99 £5.99 £6.99 £6.99

  1. Price of 1st~10th Impressions
  2. Price of 12th~13th Impressions; £1.75 for 23rd Impression
  3. Price of 17th Impression
  4. Price of 18th Impression


Puffin/Wizard Editions[]

The interior illustrations were by Iain McCaig. There were 30 full page illustrations and 7 minor repeated illustrations scattered throughout the text. The paragraphs with a full page illustration were: 1, 17, 27, 31, 40, 62, 80, 88, 113, 135, 148, 171, 178, 182, 203, 224, 239, 250, 265, 271, 292, 307, 319, 329, 344, 349, 356, 370, 385 and 398. Additionally, one piece of text - instructions from Arakor Nicodemus - was presented in a drawing of a piece of parchment (201).

Scholastic Edition[]

The interior illustrations were by Vlado Krizan. There were 20 full page illustrations and 6 minor repeated illustrations scattered throughout the text. The paragraphs with a full page illustration were: 1, 31, 62, 88, 115†, 148, 171, 182, 203, 224, 239, 250, 265, 271, 296†, 307, 329, 344, 349 and 385. Additionally, one piece of text - instructions from Arakor Nicodemus - was presented in a drawing of a piece of parchment (201). The full-page illustrations in the book were accompanied with a caption giving a short extract from the text.

The map was by Leo Hartas.

† This reference is newly illustrated, the Puffin/Wizard versions not having an equivalent piece of artwork.

Intertextual References[]

  • One of the characters in the book, a Troll named Sourbelly[3] who was one of the city guards and partnered Fatnose,[4] is mentioned again in Deathtrap Dungeon when the hero encounters the female Troll, Ivy. Sourbelly is Ivy's brother and she expresses much pride in her brother's career as a city guard of Port Blacksand.[5]
  • The city features again in Midnight Rogue.
  • Some have suggested that the Hero of this book is the same individual as that of the next gamebook in the original series, Deathtrap Dungeon, since he journeys from Port Blacksand to Fang,[6] and also that of the next gamebook after that, Island of the Lizard King, since he journeys from Fang to Oyster Bay,[7] though nowhere is this stated explicitly.

Other Media[]

Computer Game[]

Main article: City of Thieves (iOS game)

An iOS conversion of the book was produced by Big Blue Bubble and released in 2010.


Main article: City of Thieves (Kindle)

A Kindle conversion of the book was produced by Worldweaver Ltd and released in 2011.

Main Characters[]

YOU: Hero of City of Thieves



Further Notes[]

  • 10 instant failures, 1 victory, plus death by stamina loss or bad luck.
  • In the illustration to accompany (17), a White Dwarf magazine issue can be spotted!

Series 2 Additions[]


  • (249) (and also (79) and (88)) The Serpent Queen's "poisonous fangs" inflict the normal 2 stamina points of injury (though at least in (79) and (88) when she bites you just before the fight she does inflict 1 skill and 4 stamina points of injury). Contrast with the Snakes in (253).
  • The pre-generated character Helios Wardalus starts with Luck 6, while the minimal possible starting value is 7. Furthermore, all pre-generated characters start with 6 Meals of Provisions, while a player-generated character would start with 10.
  • Some of the rules are incorrectly printed in the Wizard Books version of the book due to text being copied from The Warlock of Firetop Mountain:
  • The rules state that Provisions can only be eaten when instructed by the text, which is not the case.
  • The book also incorrectly states that the player has two doses of their chosen Potion at the beginning of the book, when in fact they have only one. (This seems to have been fixed in the Wizard Shield edition.)
  • Contrary to the instructions you also do not start the adventure with a lantern.
  • The map in the Scholastic edition mis-spells Salamonis as "Salamons".
  • In the introduction story text you're given an iron key by the inn keeper. Later in the book you're asked if you have an iron key, which is obviously not meaning the same one. Perhaps the first one should be "room key" or similar.


Puffin/Wizard Editions[]

For Lucy[8]

Scholastic Edition[]


See Also[]


External Links[]


  1. City of Thieves - pg.16
  2. City of Thieves - pg.24
  3. City of Thieves - 219
  4. City of Thieves - 73
  5. Deathtrap Dungeon - 99
  6. Deathtrap Dungeon - pg.22
  7. Island of the Lizard King - pg.20
  8. City of Thieves - pg.4