Sunday 24 January 2010

The best gamebook ever? Discover for yourself – it’s free!

UPDATE: Oct 14 2012 - I've taken down the free Heart of Ice file because the book is due to be re-released in spring 2013 by Osprey Books, along with half a dozen other gamebooks by me and Jamie Thomson - with more to come after that, we hope. Read all about it on the Fabled Lands blog.
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 resourcefulness to choose the right allies, outwit your rivals, and be first to reach the Heart.
Now don't say I don't spoil you, because we've got a free gift and it's a big ‘un. Right HERE you can download an interactive PDF of my sci-fi adventure gamebook Heart of Ice, complete with exquisite illustrations by fantasy gaming legend Russ Nicholson and evocative maps by Leo. You won't need dice, you won't need a pencil. Just unzip the file and 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 (it’s if you do, and I thank you from the bottom of my not-at-all icy heart). That’s it, that’s the only payment – we just ask that you help spread the word to everyone who might enjoy it.
Now, I appreciate that 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 I will say that Heart of Ice has been frequently described in reviews as "the best gamebook ever" and, although I obviously can't comment on that, it is the best gamebook I ever wrote and, frankly, that does probably make it the best gamebook ever. (Hey – it's honesty you're after here, right?)
If further incentive is needed, 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 ebook version. And to Per Jorner for insights and critique.


  1. Well it would be truly churlish not to check out this wondrous sounding game.

    I've been on to Roz's writing blog a few times before and always find it fascinating, she echoes a lot of the observations that another writer friend of mine Sarah Duncan makes on her blog.

    I'm so relieved to discover that Roz's Dirty White Candy is free from pornographic connotations, although I had assumed it might be some cryptic reference to Bolivian Marching Powder, which one might need to keep awake during the long lonely hours now about to be expended in the frozen tracts of Heart of Ice.

  2. Dirty White Candy was the favorite confectionary Dr Johnson and Boswell, so I'm told. Sort of the Curly Wurly of its day, then, and nothing to do with unwashed Georgian prostitutes. (Though Boswell, of course, was no stranger to pornographic adventures...)

    Hope you enjoy Heart of Ice, Peter. And please pass it on to anyone else who might!

  3. Hello Dave, this is indeed good news for gamebook lovers - and there's quite a few of them out there. I've got 3 print copies of Heart of Ice already (yes, it *is* that good), but I guess having the ebook version as well won't hurt. Best gamebook ever? That's open to debate, but for sure HoI is the most *mature* of them all - its theme and scope are way beyond that of any other book of its genre. I'll be spreading the word. Thank you!

  4. Thank you, Efrem! And gamebook aficiondos should not fail to check out Efrem's site:
    where you will even find an interview with yours truly:
    mostly on the subject of games and gamebooks, though there is some mention of Mirabilis plus some photos of me before my last regeneration :-)

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