Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons (Game Histories)


Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons is the newest book in the Game Histories series, this volume written by Jon Peterson. Due out 12th Oct 2021 from MIT Press, it's 400 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a very well written book assembled from extant notes, legal documents, eyewitness accounts, and recollections about the rise, fall, rise, and pitched battles involved in the emergence and control of TSR and Dungeons & Dragons. I was working in a gaming & hobby shop in the late 70s and early 80s and I well remember our regular gaming group geeking out over the newest editions and modules from TSR. Our regular members were mostly tabletop wargamers, but the balance soon shifted as more and more of our members became more interested in D&D and later on, Warhammer. 

There wasn't much behind-the-scenes information on display (this was pre-internet, and almost pre-BBS). Several members of my core group were very active in fandom at the time on a large scale (worldcon, etc), and even at that level, news was slow to be disseminated. This book answered quite a number of question from those days and I was fascinated to learn what went on outside the public purview. 

This is a semi-scholarly book and the author writes authoritatively. Readers who are not especially fascinated by the subject matter might well find the style academic and dry. I found the writing precise and engaging. I also liked reading the chapter notes and readers who are interested in the minutiae will find many hours of further reading and reference hunting contained in the notes and sources mentioned throughout the text.

Four stars. Fascinating deep dive in early geekdom and the fallout from the clash of the titans which fractured D&D. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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