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Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History Hardcover – Illustrated, October 23, 2018

4.8 out of 5 stars 1,351 ratings
Part of: Dungeons & Dragons (2 Books)

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This tome invites the reader through every stage of the evolution of this wonderful game, engaging with incredible art, enlightening photos, and insightful anecdotes that both inform and inspire. Whether you got to experience the birth of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and want to relive that origin spark, or are new to the community and would love to adventure through the visual chronicle of its past, present, and future... I cannot recommend this book enough.” 
—Matthew Mercer, Dungeon Master of Critical Role
 
“This is the most comprehensive, mind-blowing visual history ever created about DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Beyond the iconic artwork featured on nearly every page, the book actually serves as a complete history of the entire D&D universe. Both fans of the game and newcomers will be completely blown away by the countless hours of research and passion put into this book. There’s truly nothing else out there like it.” 
—Adam F. Goldberg, creator of The Goldbergs
 
“This is the definitive collection of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS artwork we’ve been waiting for all of our lives! The images contained in this book will instantly transport you back to your childhood, and conjure up memories of long forgotten adventures shared with old friends around the gaming table. This tome is an essential addition to every lifelong D&D fan's home library. Buy a copy right now—or make me a saving throw versus Death Magic!” 
—Ernie Cline, author of Ready Player One
 
“DUNGEONS & DRAGONS has shaped the imaginations of millions around the world since its conception. This visual exploration delving into where it all began is a must-read for both dedicated veterans and new enthusiasts alike. A passionate homage from the biggest fans in the industry!” 
—Maude Garrett, TV, radio, and online host and founder of Geek Bomb

“I grew up during the early days of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, and it’s been decades since I’ve seen the wonders that enthralled me during that magical time. At last, familiar treasures from the depths of the vault are here. They can make you cry depending on how deep you went. This is an incredible tome of power."
—John Romero, co-creator of DOOM
 
“This is a time machine. Poring over these images forty years after I first held the Basic Set in my hands, I’m overwhelmed by the same ineffable feelings I had back in 1977.  DUNGEONS & DRAGONS unlocked something in my twelve year old brain—an exhilarating sense of possibility—that set my future course as a game designer and writer. This book inspires me all over again"
—Amy Hennig, creator of the Uncharted series

“This fascinating deep dive into the world of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS will thrill both the connoisseur of role-playing games, as well as anyone interested in visual histories. I found so much information to inspire daydreams for months. I can’t wait to add this to my library of all things geeky.”
—Deborah Ann Woll, actor and D&D enthusiast


"This tome of awesomeness [...] You can only begin to imagine the amounts of hours that this team of top notch authors poured into this. They gained unparalleled access to the archives of Wizards of the Coast and the personal collection of some of the top collectors. Needless to say this book will detail and illustrate the long and wonderful journey of Dungeons and Dragons from its humble beginnings to the cult status it obtained to this day. This has never been achieved in a book before making it the must-have D&D collectible."
 —Fabienne Payet, Outright Geekery

“In the early 1980s, I spent lots of time working and gaming with D&D co-creator Gary Gygax during his ‘lost Los Angeles period;’ I went on to work closely with TSR until its end. For me, this is more than a book.  It’s a time machine back to a fantastic, fabulous time when anything was possible. For anyone who wants to understand the pure magic of D&D and where it came from, get this book at all costs.”
 —Flint Dille, Screenwriter/Game Designer

"Can’t give a higher recommendation than the highest for this amazing book! I’ve seen the preview and I was blown away page after Page! GET THIS BOOK!"  
 —Stefan Pokorny, Founder and CEO of Dwarven Forge

“This book is an exotic, magical, and fun trip into the world of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS whether you’ve ever held a twelve-sided die or not.” 
—James Gunn, writer-director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie series

“This is no simple art book. Authors Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Petersen, and Sam Witwer have combined their lifetimes of love and experience with DUNGEONS & DRAGONS to create a comprehensive history of both the role-playing game and its legendary creators… The visual history does, of course, include all artwork you’ve dreamed of.”
—Kelly Knox, 
Nerdist
 
“With over 400 pages, Art and Arcana is the most comprehensive D&D history you will find anywhere. Like a treasure-filled cavern, it's packed (and we mean PACKED) with enough facts, quotes, images, and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to choke a fully grown Demogorgon.”
—Josh Weiss, SyFy.com

"It's incredible . . . this thing is a gateway into another dimension.”
Boing Boing


About the Author

Michael Witwer is a bestselling author known for his work on the Hugo-nominated Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana, the critically acclaimed Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons, and Heroes' Feast: The Official Dungeons & Dragons Cookbook. Widely considered an expert on D&D history, Michael has spoken on the topic at a variety of venues such as Google, Pixar, Lucasfilm, top gaming conventions and book festivals, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. His books have won many honors, including being selected as a Hugo Award finalist, an Amazon "Best Book of the Month," a Diana Jones Award nominee, a Locus Award finalist, and a GeekDad "Best Book of the Year."

Kyle Newman is a writer/director whose directorial work includes Fanboys written by Ernie Cline, starring Kristen Bell and Seth Rogen; Barely Lethal, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Jessica Alba; and music videos for artists including Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. Newman also produced the critically acclaimed documentary Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made. His clients include Microsoft, Interscope Records, Starz, Coca Cola, Entertainment Weekly, and Lucasfilm.

Jon Peterson is a widely recognized authority on the history of games. His book Playing at the World was called "the first serious history of the development of Dungeons & Dragons" by The Village Voice. He has contributed to academic anthologies on games including Zones of Control and the forthcoming Role-playing Game Studies: Transmedia Foundations. Jon also writes for gaming and geek culture websites including BoingBoing, the Escapist, and GamaSutra, as well as his popular RPG history blog, playingattheworld.blogspot.com.

Sam Witwer is an actor whose work includes leading roles in the SyFy series Being Human, for which he was nominated for a Gemini Award, and the Star Wars Saga, where he brings various characters to life in video games, film, and television—including an Emmy-nominated performance as the voice of Darth Maul. He has also been featured on Once Upon a Time, Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Stephen King’s The Mist, and Dexter. He has been an avid Dungeons & Dragons player since age 11.


Product details

  • Publisher : Ten Speed Press; Illustrated edition (October 23, 2018)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0399580948
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0399580949
  • Item Weight : 5.15 pounds
  • Dimensions : 9.21 x 1.37 x 12.15 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 1,351 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
1,351 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on October 25, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

A. Whitehead
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent visual history to the game which could have been twice as long
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent visual history to the game which could have been twice as long
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2018
In 1974 Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created a different type of tabletop game. Dungeons and Dragons became the world's first and most popular roleplaying game. For thirty-four years it ruled supreme and unchallenged, until a problematic fourth edition and the rise of the rival Pathfinder game knocked it off its perch. However, with its fifth edition the game has regained its crown. A key ingredient to the game's success has been the phenomenal roster of artists who have worked on the game for almost forty-five years.

Art & Arcana is a visual history of the Dungeons and Dragons game, taking in every edition and campaign setting the game has produced, as well as many of its novels, calendars and video games. Artwork from the very first prototypes right through the latest 5th Edition expansions and modules is featured, along with lengthy histories and interviews with key personnel.

Arts & Arcana is massive: more than 440 pages in length, it features over 700 separate pieces of artwork along with a significant amount of text detailing the history of the game in some depth. It starts with Gygax and Arneson playing miniatures wargames in Wisconsin in the late 1960s and rapidly hitting on the idea of moving from large armies of lots of figures to small parties of just a few figures exploring dungeons, and later wilderness and towns. Dungeons and Dragons was born, with Gygax and Arneson founding the company TSR to sell it all over the world.

From there the game exploded, selling millions of copies and inspiring spin-off novels, board games and a TV show. Several times the management of the game became fraught and complicated, with Gygax forced out in a corporate takeover and TSR later collapsing before being rescued by Wizards of the Coast. The game's struggles in the face of competition from video games and card games such as Magic: The Gathering are also documented, not to mention the attacks on the game in the press by fundamentalist Christians in the 1980s. The book brushes over arguably the game's nadir, the problematic 4th Edition (2008-13) and the rise of rival products to challenge the game's supremacy, but it does end strongly with the game's return to recent prominence in a new era of podcasts, YouTube videos and Twitch streams.

The one constant throughout the book is artwork. The initial artwork for the game was simplistic, sourced for very little money from whatever artists were on hand. As the game boomed in sales, so the quality of the artwork increased dramatically, with iconic artists like Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell and Keith Parkinson joining the company. Later on younger artists arrived with radically different styles, ready to reassess the game for its later editions. As well as artwork for the core game, they also produced art for tie-in novels and video games.

The result is a splendid coffee table book and the perfect gift for a fan of Dungeons and Dragons specifically or fantasy artwork in general. In fact, it's a tribute to the artistic strength of Dungeons and Dragons that so many brilliant pieces of artwork aren't even in the book, as there wasn't enough room.

In fact, that's probably the book's biggest weakness (along with the somewhat dry and mostly controversy-ducking text): the sheer amount of material produced for D&D over the past forty-five years means that some elements get fairly short shrift in this book. Ravenloft feels a bit hard-done by in particular. There's also, somewhat bemusingly given their prevalence in and for the game, very little material on maps, although perhaps there's enough material there for a completely separate book later on.

If you can accept the fact that the book isn't exhaustively complete (and isn't meant to be, and would be far too unwieldy even if it was), there's still a huge amount to enjoy here, and the book forms probably the best and most concise history of the D&D game to date for the beginner. Art & Arcana (****½) is available now in the UK and USA.
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M. Wilcox
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant content, great quality.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 17, 2018
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3 people found this helpful
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Quentin Stephens
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous coffee-table book for the older geek
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 7, 2018
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Daniel
3.0 out of 5 stars Good gift but arrived damaged
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 6, 2018
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Pieter
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2019
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