The Fearsome Island

The Fearsome Island by Albert Kinross.   I listened to the LibriVox recording of this (a public domain file available for free here: https://librivox.org/the-fearsome-isl…).

I stumbled across this on archive.org, and while it was not exactly riveting, it was entertaining. The story is about a shipwrecked sailor who finds himself on an island with a trap-filled castle. He has a few companions — another sailor, a cat, a bearded hag, and a mute native — most of whom are killed by the various traps.

The Victorian prose is a little rough, and the narrator is somewhat repetitive, but the idea for the story is pretty original.  Spoilers under the ‘more’ button:

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The traps are:

  1. An idol — a bronze goddess with her arms stretched out and wearing a necklace of massive diamonds.  At her feet are skeletons.  On closer inspection the skeletons are all bisected at the waist.  In someone attempts to climb the statue to get at the diamonds, the arms swing closed, chopping them in two
  2. A bronze door-knocker on a castle door is shaped like an open hand.  Anything touching the hand is gripped immediately in the hand’s vise-like grip.
  3. A corridor with many-colored tiles.  Step on a certain tile and huge sword-blade scythes across the floor at about knee level.  It continues to sweep back and forth, so that someone cut off at the knees will drop and then be sliced again, and someone who jumped to escape the blade will need to continue jumping up and down until exhausted.
  4. A room filled with a delicious-looking feast.  When triggered, the door slams shut and poisonous gas fills the room.  There is a secret door that allows escape.
  5. A room filled with an illusion of beautiful women.  When triggered, spears stab down from the ceiling, pincushioning anyone in the room with many spears.
  6. A room filled with treasure.  When triggered, flames fill the room and leave anyone in the room is charred to ashes.
  7. A curtain hangs before a mirror with a permanent image of a sinister wizard.  His piercing eyes can paralyze.

The castle — with all of these traps except the first, which was on the beach — probably had many more similar traps in it.  It was built by an evil inventor who had been cast out of the Spanish Inquisition because of his excessive cruelty.

The protagonist loses all his hirelings and henchmen and even his companion animal but makes it out with a lot of treasure.   So evidently this was written about a D&D adventure.

Except that this story was first published in 1896!

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Published in: on June 20, 2014 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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