Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Creators: Jim Zub, Stacy King, Andrew Wheeler; art by Conceptopolis
Format: 112 pages, HC, with color, 5 3/4” x 8 1/4”
Age Rating: not listed by publisher
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
It is possible that this book will attract hordes of school-aged kids who want to learn a very odd assortment of information about Dungeons and Dragons, but don’t count on it. The difficulty with the book’s format is that it only covers certain “professions” from the fantasy world, and other than a brief mention or two, completely ignores magicians and clerics. There may be a second book planned that will include those but if you buy that as well, then you’ve already spent half as much as if you’d just bought a rulebook for the game.
For kids who need examples of medieval weapons, armor and equipment in visual form, as well as a few examples of a fully-developed higher level character, this book does have some value. It will not, however, be a necessary purchase for most readers who just want to learn about the game. This one is aimed at absolute beginners, but doesn’t actually teach any of the rules for Dungeons and Dragons… just some basic principles and concepts. In fact, you could use most of the information in this book to play any fantasy roleplaying game, although the specific things about the non-human races that are specific to D&D would be wasted.
Some of the information on weapons and armor seems to be based on how they work in fiction rather than the real world, but that’s probably okay for someone who plans to play a game rather than get into a sword fight.
If you wanted to buy an absolute beginner-level book that explains some of Dungeons and Dragons without going into actual rules, this might be a good choice.
--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.