I’ll preface this by saying this is the not my first trip to the Mazzanoble rodeo, so to speak…nor am I a novice at D&D (as a matter of fact, you could call me a Champion…okay, no more Weird Al references in this article, I promise). As a matter of fact, I’ve been playing since high school and I was definitely not oblivious about it when I picked up her first novel (Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the Dungeons and Dragons Game). Honestly, I picked up to play the same game I did with the first run of The Lord of the Rings for Dummies: what’s wrong with this book? Let me say this…when I realized she had a followup novel, I was rushing to go see my editor to pick it up. If you like D&D or gaming at all…you NEED this book. No. No, you don’t. You NEED BOTH of her books!
While I realize I have a predisposition towards the book, I would have picked it up in a heartbeat. The full title (Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons: One Woman’s Quest to Turn Self-Help into Elf-Help) leans towards lengthy, much in the pattern of her first D&D book, but is perfect. The whole attitude of the packaging is just what you find inside the book: playful, reminiscent, and open. The books make me think of old textbooks and that dice set is preeeettttttyyyyy. Okay, so I have a weakness for copper…don’t judge me.
The Book Itself
The format is a lot like her previous book, and that’s not a bad thing. The formatting is approachable and fun for an easy read. I found myself able to catch snippets while waiting on my boyfriend at work or in the last few minutes of lunch, and I can always appreciate that. I also love her various chapters (broken into everything from religion to love and relationships).
You know, I’ve heard some pretty negative reactions about her style suggesting it’s all about marketing and tying D&D into where it shouldn’t be, or even that Shelly Mazzanoble is the Wizards of the Coast attempts at making a D&D-lite for girls. I say bollocks. I think this (as well as her previous novel) are not an attempt to make the “big scary D&D” any less scary, but rather to help answer questions piquing the curiousity of every girlfriend of a DM (yes, I said it, girlfriend…MY boyfriend plays D&D, thank-you-very-much).
This particular book brings a playful way to use D&D to tackle all of your real-world problems. The author starts each chapter with a dialogue between herself and her mother, Judy, who is a self-help book officianado and thus begins her conflict arc. From there she goes about various experiments and thought processes using her D&D characters as well as a useful player’s manual and guidebook (or two). My favorite experiment has to be the “God-a-Day” week in which she tests out being a “follower” of 5 gods her characters might follow as well. It’s an interesting test of the meaning of spirituality.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons rolls a natural 20…the book kicks ass! You need to get out and read it ASAP, regardless of your stance on self-helpor Elf-help.