Book Review: ‘Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It’ by David M. Ewalt

Thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

David Ewalt is a D&D fan. And like a significant portion of D&D fans he played a lot as a youth, gave it up as a young adult and has recently come back to the game. Combine these facts with a career as an award-winning journalist and it’s not surprising that the product is a warm look at the culture of D&D combined with an accurate and unbiased look back at it’s history and development.

Growing up I think I missed out on the initial D&D craze by 5 years, and by a continent. I’m curious and I have been looking at playing D&D when I have more time. Possibly when the new edition comes out. So I guess I am part of the ideal ‘D&D virgin yet curious’ audience.

I feel like I should contrast this book with another I read last year, Mark Barrowcliffe’s ‘The Elfish Gene’. This book was more of a personal memoir, with the attitude being that the author wasted his youth playing D&D and is a bitter about it. It did not portray the game in a positive light at all. Although there was a few chuckles and some connections with growing up a geek, it left a bitter taste in my mouth and did not inform me on why I should consider playing the game.

David Ewalt’s book is less memoir, more journalism, with an enthusiastic pro-D&D message that is not fanatical. The most interesting parts were looking at the development of the game, the personalities of the developers and the dismal history of the companies formed around it. This information seems balanced and based upon a lot of interviews and documentation.

So, if you’re like me, curious about D&D and would like a balanced view on it’s history and how it is played this book is highly recommended.

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