Monday, 23 July 2012

Ten Doors of Doom

Alright? This is going to be the "main theme" of this blog, mostly - books that I have that don't really have a noticeable presence on the Internet, uploaded for all to enjoy. Only "good" books though, not just any old nonsense. I'm sure there's people out there who'd love to see scans of Roy McLeavy's Hovercraft and Hydrofoils [Blandford Colour Series], but they'll have to go to a hovercraft-based blog for that (actually, it's a cracking book - it'll be here eventually, but it's at the bottom of the pile). Nah, mostly it'll be books of the imagination-stirring variety. Plus some other stuff, like the usual bloggish things you'd expect (lists, moans, YouTube links and the like). Anyway, you've already had your Trap Door Dungeon, this is your next one, with a similar "dungeon" theme: The Ten Doors of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOMM.

From 1987, it's one of several titles available in Puffin's Fantasy Questbook series - and in the twenty-something years I've owned this book, I've NEVER read it "properly" - to me it's always been a book of monsters and the weird places where they live. David Fickling and Perry Hinton are the writers/designers of the book, but most/all of the credit goes to Andrew Skilleter, the illustrator. I still haven't read all of the text in this book, but the pictures are all semi-implanted onto my brain in some form. And now we can see those pictures for ourselves! Start with the opening page, in case anyone's interested in the actual plot:
My scanner's weird - it wouldn't capture the whole page, just this bit from the middle of it.

The next eleven pages are, I'm assuming, details of what you're supposed to do on your quest. I always treated the book as a fantasy-ish version of Where's Wally - looking at all the objects detailed in these first few pages, then trying to find them through the rest of the book. Turns out that really IS what you're supposed to do. Clever me! Here are those first eleven pages, with some nice creature profiles around half-way through:

Now we get to the "bulk" of the book, the titular ten doors of DOOM. We get a picture of a door describing what's behind it, followed by a picture of the environment that's getting described. So, onto the first door:

And here's that gate - a swampy moat filled with giant man-eating plants, odd-looking reptiles and amphibians, and even a styracosaurus! Those creature profiles from the first few pages? There's one of those creatures hidden in each room. Have fun by trying to spot them (I won't be giving out the answers here).

Next door:

Not as interesting as the swamp, but it's a nice surprise when you figure out which creature's hiding in this room. The ghost of the little boy's a bit creepy, mind.


I never liked that little goblin man. The dead dragon's nice, but overall there's a bit of an uncomfortable feeling to this room - how'll he get past that dog? 

Oh well, tally-ho:

Yeah, I like this room! Mainly for those mini-people climbing the steps, and those statues in the foreground (OR ARE THEY REAL???). As throne rooms go, it's a good one. Those eye-lights shining onto the throne must be good for reading with.


This is where things start to get a bit creepy - I actually read the text on this door as a nipper, so would always try and avoid looking at the wizard's eyes - but to no avail! The hidden creature's tricky on this one, and in all honesty I'm still not 100% on its whereabouts. Could be that thing in the jar, but maybe not. Or behind the bottles. Who knows?

Further intrigue:

Ha-haaa, this room's mad! Look at the floating puddle, and the big fleshy mass of faces on the floor. Cuckoo stuff. Who's that cloud shushing? What use is a dagger made out of smoke? What kind of scale are we looking at here? I'm not really a wizard, so can't really help you there. Soz.


Ooh, dramatic, a bit. The bats are great, but this page used to have me worrying a bit - placing myself in a similar situation, how would I make sure I don't slip on that puddle in the bottom-left corner? How would I get past that hooded figure with the mace? He looks the kind who walks really slowly down steps, due to brittle bones. It'd be an awkward 40-odd minutes (or however long it'd take to reach the bottom of the steps).


Possibly my favourite page in the book - how great would it be to have a room like this in your house? Even Mr. Hood from the staircase is pleased to see it - he's actually welcoming us to it. That said, I never used to be able to look at this page if I was reading the book in bed at night. Something about making eye-contact with him. Nah, didn't like that. See those monkey-men hanging from the ceiling? A few years later, in a completely different book, they made another appearance and I was able to name them. That book will appear on these very pages at some point in the future, so unless you already know, you'll have to wait to see what they're called as well.


The penultimate room, and it's a comfortably spacious-looking dungeon. Aside from the grumpy-looking troll with the keys, it looks an alright place to be locked up in. A friendly little imp offering us money (and his grumpy-looking buddy behind him), several fair maidens, a bumbling duo of monks, a rat, a miserable-looking goblin, a starved monkey-boy in a cage suspended from a dragon's tail, and a giant that looks like Lothar from Defenders of the Earth. Good neighbors all round!

And last of all:

Ick, used to be bloody terrified of this last page. As monsters go, apart from the malformed head he's nothing special, but it was the outstretched hand and the incredibly human-looking eye that always got me with this page. During night-time readings, I'd close the book after the previous dungeon page so that I wouldn't have this thing crawling into my dreams. Just as well too, considering he can't be defeated without the Blades of Daros, which can only be found by deciphering the hidden blah blah blah.

Here's the back cover, for anyone who's interested:
And, as a special treat, something else too! In the earliest years of my being alive, I always assumed that the blank pages in books were there so that you could add your own parts to whatever's going on. The inside front cover of this particular book was blank, so naturally I assumed that I was to add my own Room of Doom:
So it's my own version of the throne room! Added a shark tank, a chemistry set, a three-headed monster, a couple of ghosts and a portrait of a witch, but kept the throne (with impressive reading light) and of course the miniature devil trying to climb the stairs. And a rat.

So, well done to Andrew, David and Perry - you each played a small part in shaping my childhood. Cheers for that. And we'll call this a book review by giving it 8.4 Doors of Doom out of 10 Doors of Doom.


  1. Nice! I've got this book, along with a more Sci-Fi orientated one called Helmquest....I've never been able to work out any of the puzzles, but like yourself I enjoyed reading them anyway, and looking at the lovely pictures!

  2. This book's been in my life for twenty years, too. I can't help but sink into the flood of memories when I look at the pictures, but I think that were I to look with fresh eyes now, I'd be reminded of Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone books. You should read those! Yes!

    Didn't I draw a dungeon on the inside back cover?

  3. Nope, only one drawing in there, my one...

    And Mr. Flook, good to know that other people have this book too!

  4. A few days ago I randomly remembered this book I had as a child...and I couldn't remember the title or many other details, only the naked demon guy at the end that scared the crap out of me...after scouring the internets for the last two days (yes, I'm committed ;)) I found it on this blog! Excellent! now to acquire a decent copy and traumatize my own kids with it!

    1. Fantastic stuff! Glad your quest finished so quickly - there's books I've been looking for for YEARS now, with only descriptions of illustrations to go by...

  5. There's a good chance that when I die, my greatest accomplishment in life will remain me defeating the Nameless One. Of course, it took me probably over ten years to figure it all out. Thanks for this return to my wonderful childhood, TwoHeadedBoy.

    1. Congratulations! Never actually "played" the book... Might do one day, but for me it's always been a book full of "inspiring" pictures...

      Those things hanging from the canopy over the Lake of Light? They appeared in another book I got about a year after that one - or at least a variation on them, what a joy that was!

  6. Good lord. I've been wondering about this book for literally years but had no idea what it was called or how to find it. And finally I've managed the right bit of Google Fu to find not only the name, but pictures of the entire thing! Amazing :-)

    I was so proud of myself when I solved this aged about 11 or so!

    1. It's a service I'm happy to provide!

      I don't think I ever attempted to "solve" the book - I was five when I got it, and obsessed with monsters (like most healthy five-year-olds), so to me it was always just a book of freaky-looking beings and the places they lived, with a bit of "Where's Wally?" thrown in on top...

      Might give it a go "properly" one day!

  7. I remember being terrified of the monster at the end of the book as a kid .about year or so after I got it I went back and actually 'beat' it. I remember the last puzzle bordered on genius ;) .
    There was another,similar, book that featured a load of Jungle explorers being picked off one by one...cant rememeber the name though..

    1. That monster definitely did its job of terrifying kids!

      I may have been too young for the book when I got it - I just saw it as a freakier variation on Where's Wally. Maybe one day I'll actually sit down and try to do the book "properly" (maybe).

      The jungle one sounds good... Was it this one by any chance?