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Book Review—Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It came to me in the bookdrop at the library, and I was interested enough to take it home to read. I have played a few games of D&D, but I don’t have a regular campaign. I knew a bit of the history and was interested in learning more.

I really enjoyed how this book details the origins of D&D (as closely as it can from someone who wasn’t there at the time) while interspersing details about the writer’s campaigns. I came for the history of the creation of complex gameplay, its rise and fall and rise again, and different types of related games. This history is told with so much heart and backed up by the sort of research a trained researcher is good at. There’s a bit of bias at times, but everyone has people they root for and their own favorite version of RPGs, so I can’t blame the writer for that. It came across as more factual than I was expecting while still paying homage to those involved in D&D’s origins. How amazing it would have been to have been part of one of those early games with the DM hidden behind filing cabinet drawers and the newness of the adventure ahead.

I was not expecting the book to be so personal, but I loved that it was. The author juxtaposes parts of his campaigns both in exposition and actual narrative with what’s happening in the history. This both serves as an example while also entertaining. I enjoy playing D&D, but I think I like watching D&D and other RPGs even more. Being part of the action is great, but it’s also a great responsibility. I love watching people collaborate to create a story all their own. So I did like many of the adventures the author shares with us, from wargaming to LARPing to his weekly D&D campaign. His passion for D&D easily jumped from the pages. As a nerd as well, I appreciated all the references, from Monty Python to Doctor Who to Star Trek: TNG. Finding what’s in a nerd’s heart, what really makes a fanboy or fangirl happy, is one of my favorite things. This book is 100% that.

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