Grand Wizard at Penguin

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The Grand Wizard at Penguin is the manifestation of the publisher, Penguin Books, as referred to in the Warlock magazine.

He is referred to in deferential terms and appears to be deemed the ultimate decision maker for all things Fighting Fantasy. Even The Warlock himself referred to this character as "O powerful one!". References to him appear in Warlock from issue 3 to issue 5. Many of the references to the Grand Wizard are in relation to the prospective set up of a Fighting Fantasy Club.

Warlock Magazine MentionsEdit

The Grand Wizard appears to have been first encountered in issue 3. On the very first page we read:

Jumping Jackalweres! Issue three and still going strong! The Grand Wizard at Penguin has, in his wisdom, ordained that Warlock shall continue, with his blessing. Perhaps he has been influenced by the mountain of letters from readers that pile high in his private chambers ... or perhaps it was just that Poison Publisher spell we threatened to cast if he didn’t!

Further on in the issue, in "The Warlock's Quill" section, which was where the editors in the guise of The Warlock, answered reader's mail, The Warlock refers to potentially being able to "twist the arm of the Grand Wizard at Penguin" into giving a special subscription rate to Warlock magazine for members of a Fighting Fantasy Club, should one be created. Later on the same page, The Warlock responds to another mail concerning a Fighting Fantasy/Gamebook Club by saying "Someone else who wants a Gamebook Club! Are you listening, Grand Wizard?".

In issue 4 in "The Warlock's Quill" section, a reader suggested a Fighting Fantasy convention. The editors said that this was a great idea "and one which we took up with the Grand Wizard at Penguin. He hummed and aahed and mumbled something about ‘Maybe we could have a special Fighting Fantasy section at the next Puffin show ...’ We’ll keep working on him."

In the "Fighting Fantasy News" section, it was said that the most exciting news this issue is the decision of the Grand Wizard at Penguin to publish a Fighting Fantasy gamebook every month! Thus, establishing the Grand Wizard as the decision making authority at Penguin. In which case, the Grand Wizard was around as long as the Fighting Fantasy series whether mentioned in Warlock or not.

In issue 5, the Grand Wizard is mentioned in the introductory page by the editors in the following terms: "Warlock Magazine is a year old! Twelve months ago, we and the Grand Wizard were biting our knuckles (we’d already got past our nails) when Warlock 1 came back from the printers." Going on to explain why the magazine is published only once a quarter the editors again referred to the Grand Wizard: "The main reason for the delay is the work-load. It takes a lot of work to put together a magazine and keep the FF Gamebooks coming out at a steady rate! But who knows? With the circulation still rising, there is even more pressure on the Grand Wizard’s arm ..."

In "The Warlock's Quill" the Grand Wizard was one again mentioned in connection with a prospective Fighting Fantasy Club. In this mention the Grand Wizard is referred to as "O powerful one", again placing The Warlock himself in a subordinate position: "And finally, the FF Club. We’ve had many, many requests for a Club. At the moment they’re stacked up on the Grand Wizard’s desk. Do not ignore these pleas, O powerful one!"

As an addition to this issue's "Warlock's Quill", there was a special "Fighting Fantasy Club Update". The Warlock expressed thanks to the multitude of readers who supported Harvey Lawrence’s suggestion in issue 3 that a Fighting Fantasy Club should have Priority One status.[1] The ended by saying "By hook or by crook, we’ll bend that Grand Wizard’s arm yet!"

Reference to the Grand Wizard EndsEdit

Issue 6 was the first to be published by Games Workshop as opposed to Penguin Books. From this issue onwards, the Grand Wizard was not referred to. Interestingly, in the introduction, the potential for a Fighting Fantasy Club is mentioned for the last time in the Warlock magazines. Previously, whenever the club was mentioned, so was the Grand Wizard as a potential obstacle to its set up. The editors wrote:

A constant stream of letters implores us to set up a Fighting Fantasy club. This is beyond even the Warlock’s mystic powers – it is a matter that can be decided only by Penguin Books and your editors-in-chief in person. But we hope that Warlock magazine can become the nucleus of a nationwide gamebook 'club'. We’ve got a lot of ideas about how to go about this, and we’ll reveal all in future issues ...

We can glean much from the above. First, Penguin Books is referred to, rather than the Grand Wizard at Penguin. This suggests that with the change in ownership of Warlock, came a change in how Penguin was to be viewed in relation to it. Second, the editors placed themselves in an equal position to Penguin Books in making the decision, where previously they had intimated that it was down to the Grand Wizard alone to decide. Third, by proffering the suggestion that they hoped Warlock could become the nucleus of a nationwide gamebook 'club', this appears to have been an attempt to deflect any more calls for a Fighting Fantasy Club, in favour of concentrating on delivering the core Fighting Fantasy products.

See AlsoEdit


  1. "Among those who wanted to join immediately were: John Stephens, Edward Shelton, Henry Andrews, Ben Cowell, Gavin Fudge, Ian Liennard, M. Anderson, Gideon Clifton, Andrew Flynn, Paul Wilkinson, Lee Gerrard, Aacun Naik, Sean York, John Wilson, Steve Clarkson, David Jones, Roger Kelly, Quentin Crisp, Richard Barrow, Craig Kendrick, Richard Wickenden, Mark Thompson, Hayden Matthews, Jonathan Tyers, John Jackson, Ian Macdonald, Brian Gray, Sean McGovern, Michael Burns, Philip McHardy, Paul Johnson, Daniel Hunt, Marten Steel, Nicholas Kruys, Mark Stewart, David Cattanach, John ‘Sulthad the Master Thief’ Battle, Ewan Pearson, Scott Strait, Paul Monaghan, Archmage J. Stanton, Dean Willetts, Tim Peach, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (heh, heh)."

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