Title: Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons & the People Who Play It
Author: David M. Ewalt
Genre: Non-Fiction (Journalistic Memoir perhaps would be a more telling name)
Part of a Series?: No
*I purchased a paperback copy of this book
This book explores the creation and evolution of the popular table-top role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. The author is an award-winning journalist and life-long player of Dungeons & Dragons. He weaves together well-written stories of adventure from his personal D&D campaigns with analysis of D&D specifically and the broader world of gaming and its impact on popular culture. This book is a blend of history, journalism, narrative, and memoir.
This book is educational, has sharp analysis, and the narrative sections are extremely well-written. I love this book and think everyone who has every enjoyed Dungeons & Dragons or wondered about their crazy friend who plays it should read it. And if Mr. Ewalt ever decides to write a book of fiction, I will happily read it too, based on the sections he wrote to describe his on-going Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
The Nitty Gritty:
The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing. When you pick a non-fiction book off the shelves, you never know whether you are getting a dry textbook or a fascinating glimpse into someone’s (or something’s) life or history. This book is definitely not a textbook. The language is easy to understand and informative. The chapters are organized in a logical manner and anyone who reads this book will come away with a better understanding not only of Dungeons & Dragons, but also gaming, table-top gaming, and society.
Interestingly enough, this non-fiction book also had sections of fictional writing as well: Mr. Ewalt used narratives from his own gaming sessions to help the reader connect with the gaming history he was sharing. And these sections were very well-written! I found it very difficult to resist going through the whole book to read those sections first. They were rich with description, detailed an intriguing premises, and featured characters I wanted to know more about. The worst thing about these vignettes was that there weren’t more of them.
Special Parenting Concerns:
You might think that with a book about Dungeons & Dragons there would be some parenting concerns. However, Dungeons & Dragons is just a game, a time when people get together and pretend to be forces of good, heroes in a world where magic is real and fighting evil is an acceptable job, rather than just a higher ideal. There is nothing about this book that a parent need to be concerned with. At worst, it provides an opening for discussing how gaming impacts culture and what, exactly, is an acceptable way to game responsibly.
You Will Like This If…:
- You like Dungeons & Dragons
- You want to learn more about Dungeons & Dragons
- You like to learn how pop culture develops and impacts our society