As my husband and I are jumping into the D&D games (accompanied by my best friend and her boyfriend), I figured this would be an excellent intro for me to the game. Mostly, it was. Mazzanoble does a fine job of explaining D&D vernacular and slang, giving advice on weapons, class, fighting and interactions with team members. The writing was humorous at points, even earning an out-loud chuckle a few times. My qualm with the book is two fold, however. 1. The endless pop-culture reference got old. fast. The constant barrage of girly-girl nonsense (Prada-this, Oprah-that, Pedicure-this, High Heels-that) was funny the first few times, but by the second and third chapter, I was done. I wanted more information about the game and less omg-my-magic-boots-are-jimmy-choos! 2. While she breaks the stereotypes for D&D players, she simultaneously builds them for girls! Not every girl is going to interrupt the DM to ask about shopping or bring low-fat granola or whatever. I felt this book had a very narrow target audience, and wasn't for all girls or ever most girls, but a small sliver of girls - the ones who wear Jimmy Choo shoes. For my part, I will recommend it to new girl D&D players, but I will give it a disclaimer due to this 2 facts.
I brought this book for my girlfiend and she quickly became disinterested in the subject material after reading the first few chapters. The author seems to scream through almost every page that she is not a weirdo or strange because she plays DND and that normal people still play this game. She asserts that she is a woman in the truest sense almost constantly, not because she appreciates the fact, because she feels that makes her unique to the other dnd players. She analyzes and critiques other players based soley on the aesthetic values and seems to be obsessed with trivial details in the game that are of no use to a player. This book is not dnd in essence but a collection of her own inner struggles with conformity.
This book would help anyone to better explain the game, not only to women but to anyone interested in the game. I really enjoyed this book and have almost no complaints or ways to improve it! I bought the book for two reasons: I am a DM who loves to get people into my game and stay there; I wanted to see, as a male player, what aspects she could explain or show me to help me entice or instruct more women into my games.
My thoughts: In all the gaming sessions I have ever played since I first started around twelve years of age, there have only been four girls who played in our games. Considering when we started playing, there is nothing surprising or odd about that statement, as ten to thirteen year old girls don't play dungeons and dragons at least not in 1986, still as unlikely in 1996 but more often in 2006. That being said, I believe that any activity is either fun for someone or not fun. Being for boys or girls to play is always debatable and this book falls into the category of FUN.
Review: The book is taken from Shelly's point of view, yes, but her view is also that of someone who came into the game knowing very little and progresses in a fun, humorous narrative on her experiences learning to play Dungeons and Dragons, version 3.5, game itself. Why is it fun? Misunderstood? Confusing? Only for guys? Is it only for kids? She answers these questions all the while, taking us step-by-step from what D&D is and creating a character all the way to the game's mechanics, in game playing and death of a character or party. In between we are treated to simple tables explaining specific game mechanics or terms used in the game, sketches of her character and that of her companions. Sections also include small excerpts as if read from her diary, which help bring the game closer to the audience by talking about it candidly. Despite there being a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5 and 4th edition of the game the game goes over the 3.5 edition of the game as far as I can tell. Shelly's explanation of the world that gamers live in, allow a non player to understand the basics of the game and it's very simple mechanics while possibly becoming interested enough to give the game a try.
Summary: There are many reasons to buy the book but here are a few that most of us need to hear and understand. -If you are a woman interested in learning about the game. -If you are new to Dungeons and Dragons and wanted to read about someone's experiences learning and playing the game. -Wanted a different (not just a woman's) point of view. -Were concerned or interested in why people come together and play such a stigmatized game. -Were looking for some light reading and have been playing for years.
I give this book my highest recommendation. Ms. Mazzanoble has written a wonderful tongue-in-cheek description of fantasy role-playing that is both accurate and accessible. I wish someone had written this book 30 years ago.
I've been in the table top role-playing community since the mid-70s, and gender balance at the gaming table has often been an issue. Parties (groups of players) with a balanced number of men and women has a wonderfully different and richer dynamic than a table with just male players.
Ms. Mazzanoble's book is a dream come true for me as it talks about fantasy role-playing in a way that role-playing come alive in an engaging way for the ladies. I have given this book to husbands, boyfriends, and to ladies attending board gaming events and have had over a dozen women start role-playing with our gaming group based on reading this book.