Gamebook store

Sunday 7 February 2010

Free e-gamebook

In the twenty-third century the world is dying. Only a few million humans are left clinging to existence as the weather worsens and ice tightens its inexorable grip on the planet.

The cause of this slow death is Gaia, the AI satellite system designed to regulate Earth's climate. But Gaia has gone mad, and instead of a paradise she has made of the world a frozen hell.

Mankind's last glimmer of hope is the Heart, a crystalline meteorite thought to have been forged in the Big Bang. It has the ability to shape a universe, the one who touches it becoming mankind's savior and wielding the power of a god - or a devil.

The power to make yourself lord of a new creation is a tempting prize. The greatest heroes of the age covet the Heart for themselves, and the race is on.

The quest for ultimate power will take you across a dying world, contending with monsters, mutants and desperate men, to the haunted city of Du-En in the midst of the Saharan ice wastes.

You will need all your wits and cunning to choose the right allies, outwit your rivals, and be first to reach the Heart.

Right HERE you can play an interactive PDF of the classic sci-fi adventure gamebook Heart of Ice, illustrated by fantasy gaming legend Russ Nicholson. You won't need dice, you won't need a pencil. Just get playing.
And if you like it, please tell a friend. Or mail it to them. Shout about it on forums. Tweet about it. Plug it in your own blog. All we ask is that you help spread the word to everyone who might enjoy it.
In these days of freebies everywhere, you do have to look a gift horse in the mouth. It may not cost you money, but there's still your time to think of. So take a look at some reviewers’ comments:
  • The game system is not only simple and elegant, but it also makes an absolute joy out of character creation.”
  • “Superb use of exposition, tone, and detail.”
  • “The characterization surpasses that of many a novel.”
  • “Technology whose deeper secrets are lost to the centuries meshes wonderfully with a kind of freakish neo-Renaissance civilization of explorers, opportunists, merchants and nobles.”
  • “At all times this world feels as if it exists outside of your immediate experiences, outside of the page.”
  • “The metaphysical element reflected in the skill set melds seamlessly into the setting.”
  • “It shows every sign of having been written by someone who loves the gamebook medium, and with great narrative skill and vision to back that energy up.”
  • “The best character design, the best one-shot world design and the best writing.”
  • “Heart of Ice is an experience to remember.”
Thanks to Paul Mason, print publisher of Heart of Ice, for okaying the free online version. And to Per Jorner for insights and critique.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2012: I've had to remove the link to the free copy because Fabled Lands LLP is teaming up with a major publisher to reissue Heart of Ice and many of our other gamebooks in print and digital editions. But you can grab it here in the old print edition for a few cents, so I'm not going to feel too guilty. Also, I'm working around the clock to get the new editions out so if you did play the free version, please support us by buying the new one!


  1. Hi !

    This book was never published in France but I stumbled some months ago on an unofficial French translation... and it is genius !Maybe the best post-apocalyptic world ever made ! Thanks to Dave !

  2. I've seen a copy of that translation. Do you have a link for it? If so, I'll post it up. I'm a little surprised the book never appeared in France, because Down Among The Dead Men and Necklace of Skulls (both also in the VR series) did.

  3. Hi Dave !

    I'm very glad to get in touch with one of my favorite gamebook authors. I don't remember the link anymore, nor was able to find it back; but I have the file itself (a Word document) that I can send per e-mail if you want.

  4. Actually, I just found the link. It's:
    and the book is a 526k download.

    And btw also of possible interest to our neighbors across the Sleeve:

  5. Very good ! Actually you're more efficient than me !
    I'm an auxlanger (i.e. a creator of artificial language for international communication) and the inventor of Sambahsa-Mundialect (indeed, it was at first an offspring of Angaté, spoken in Ferromaine and Selentine !)
    Among others, to illustrate the possibility of this language, I've written in Sambahsa a novel from the adventures of the character Ithacus in the Fabled Lands.
    The file (Ithacus)is available under the files/dossier section here:
    Tell me if you think it infringes your author's rights and I'll delete it. Otherwise, if you agree to its non-commercial existence, I can add this to the document and, maybe, publish it on my main site:

    Thanks !

  6. Hi cafaristeir, Jamie and I are very happy - indeed, we are flattered! - for you to publish the story.

  7. Thanks to you and Jamie ! That's very kind !
    Indeed, I wanted an oriental setting (to show the Sinitic vocabulary in Sambahsa) and Fabled Lands was perfect for this.
    I'll make a few corrections, add the authorization on it, and warn you here when it's done.
    As one can say in Sambahsa: Dank spollay !

  8. It's done ! (then click on "Ithacus is Calator")
    I chose to keep the word format for the document because the beautiful pictures couldn't be preserved on the website itself.

    That's great ! Thanks (and maybe further translations if I have the time...) !

  9. Wow, I stumbled upon this site... I still have my copy of Heart of Ice (somewhere lol)! It remains my favourite gamebook of all time (equal with Creature of Havoc by Steve Jackson).

    When reading it, I felt like I was in that post-apocalyptic world. I can hear the howling wind as I journey from the inn to Venis.

  10. Hi Mr Morris !

    I'm the one who translated "Heart of Ice" into french. I would of course have told you about it... except I didn't know how to contact you (I just stumbled across this blog right now).

    You're my favorite gamebook author and I had really enjoyed "Down among the dead men" and "Necklace of skulls". I was quite disappointed when I discovered that some of your VR books had not been translated and I managed to buy "Heart of Ice" via Amazon (to my great sadness, "Twist of Fate" - which hasn't been translated into french either - seems almost impossible to find).

    Since most French aren't so good with foreign languages, I decided to write a translation. It took some time, but the readers certainly thought it was worth it ! The translation didn't include the illustrations, but I've just provided a link to this blog to the french gamebook community I'm a part of, so the readers can finally see what Vajra Singh and Gilgamesh look like !

    I, of course, love the book (I'm much too lazy to translate something I do not really love). I can't really say whether I like it better than the two other VR books I've read. They're just different. "Heart of Ice" has an excellent post-apocalyptic atmosphere, many wonderful characters (I don't think any other gamebook even comes close in that regard) and very original endings. The description of the frozen remnants of civilization is very powerful and the style is, of course, a great part of what makes your books so enjoyable.

    (Speaking of style, I recently discovered that the french translations of the "Blood sword" series reduced the original text a bit. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case with the "Virtual Reality" books.)

  11. Hi Outremer - sorry, I missed your comment when you posted it and I just happened to be reading the original post again today because I had mailed somebody the link. So maybe you won't get to see this! But thank you for your appreciation of HoI and for taking the trouble to translate it. If I can find a digital copy of Twist of Fate I'll happily mail it to you - but can't promise as Min and I kept those books on old-style floppies, so I first have to find the disk and then locate a drive that will run it.

  12. hello sir it's great to chat with you
    i have been finding the fabled lands gamebook using all my sources the net,libraries ,shops, bookstores ,roadside stalls etc.
    but in vain .can you please help sir.
    thanking you in anticipation.

    advait trivedi,India.

    1. Hi Advait, you should be able to find print copies of the Fabled Lands books on Amazon. So far only the first four books are available, but we still hope to do more.

  13. Hey Dave, In 19 something, I came across my first game was a lazer kinda space adventure...and it was cool. Recently I purchased Quest:Cities of Gold and Glory...I am like a man obsessed. I am a former arts and crafts teacher, and have torn out one page from the back copied and re-copied the players sheet. I have also re-organized the sheet and drawn several characters of myself. I would love to have all four/12 copies of Fabled lands in a spring back version with a Title map or portal representing each section...I know you're not the publisher and this is something I must do for myself....anyway, as not to appear too high strung, I have a new product to offer you, that you may offer with your game book. This is totally AWESOME!

  14. :) I am in total agreement with URIAH! I still play them and often thought about the other regions of the world yet unexplored.

    Any news on the posters of these fabled lands covers? :)



  15. Uriah and Joe - I only just noticed your comments. I obviously need to set up alerts or something. Well, Uriah, let me belatedly welcome you aboard the Harkuna Express - hmm, actually it's a stopping train, but we hope to get to the destination eventually.

    Joe, there's no news on the posters. I was really hoping Jamie would set up some Giclee prints at Artist Rising ( so feel free to remind him at the email address, above right ;-)

  16. It's incredibly great to talk to you , Dave !
    I was introduced to gamebooks when I found an old tattered copy of Green Blood with a few pages missing , in my school library . I bought it from the librarian , since I found it to be quite a gem .

    I think gamebooks can still be popular . I'm an avid computer gamer and an equally avid book lover . I don't think any lover of fantasy books\games can resist Green Blood . Only , not a lot of ppl know about gamebooks anymore .

    I think it'd be cool if you would sell the rights of the Virtual Reality series to a game-developing company . They'd make awesome computer games and maybe it'll generate more interest for the gamebook genre too .


    1. Jamie and I tried to get Eidos to do a computer game based on Heart of Ice back in the mid-90s, only they did Deathtrap Dungeon instead. I wonder why..?

      Seriously, we would love to see videogame versions of some of our old books. Now that adventure games are making a comeback on tablets and smartphones, maybe that's the answer. Though personally I'd rather plunge into the world of (eg) Blood Sword in full-on console 3D!

  17. Hi Dave, I am a huge fan of yours! "Heart of ice" is a gamebook that I did't have the chance to read, and I would really love to read it, together with my partner: we are exploring together my old passion for gamebooks!
    I see that the link to download it is not valid anymore... too bad... is there any way for me to get it? (preferably ebook: I live in a remote area of Thailand where Amazon does not deliver...)

    1. Hi Francesco. See the latest post (Jan 25) for news of Heart of Ice and some of the other books, which will shortly be back in digital form. Even in the jungles of Thailand :-)

  18. These pictures of a snow-bound Jerusalem reminded me of Heart of Ice:

    1. And those snow-on-the-Sphinx photos too. Although they weren't actually of the real Sphinx, but a copy in Japan.

  19. The Virtual Reality gamebooks were all excellent, but I particularly enjoyed playing Heart of Ice. Map was excellent, too. Dave, you are a master at making gamebooks. Thanks for your contribution to myself and so many others!