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Reviews of 'A Practical Guide to Dragons'

A Practical Guide to Dragons

by Lisa Trumbauer
A Practical Guide to Dragons, Volume 1

Reviews of 'A Practical Guide to Dragons'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of A Practical Guide to Dragons. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.

Reviewer: Weldon Chen

Rating: Stars

Well, I just recently acquired this book. So, let me give everyone a review.

In a nutshell, the book is a practical guide to D&D3.5 dragons. The artwork uses art pieces already seen in the Draconomicon. I.e. brass/bronze/gold dragons have rib-like fins along their entire body instead of batlike wings. There is no Elmore artwork anywhere in the book. However, if you are a fan of the dragons presented in the D&D3.5 Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, and other D&D dragons material, you'll probably enjoy this book's artwork. The Practical Guide does contain all 10 dragons, including various head shot, lair maps, and hatchlings.

As for the text, there is a mixture of storytelling from Sindri Suncatcher, with references to Catriona, Maddoc, and the other characters from the Young Adult stories, as well as references to Krynn. The technical information is taken from the Draconomicon. In particular, there's the Draconius Fundamentum, the "heart" of the dragon, that powers all of a dragon's magic. There is even a self referencing of a "Master Waggoner," who met with Sindri and chronicled Sindri's story. (Personally I bothered by this being a second hand story from a kender. By making Temple of the Dragonslayer a story told by Sindri to the author, Dragonlance fans might consider the Temple of the Dragonslayer and subsequent young adult novels as complete kender tale. I think it should be presented as the complete truth from Sindri, rather from Master Waggoner.). As you'd expect from a book about D&D3.5 dragons, each dragon is covered with the basics. Blue dragons breathe lightning, Reds breathe fire. You get a brief table of the dragon's basic traits. all very simple, concise, and appropriate for easy to intermediate level readers.

That's not to say it's not a good book. In fact, I think if the book actually had elmore art, we'd probably have a book designed to bring in a young crowd into the Dragonlance fold.

Now, here's where the review will get really harsh. to all the authors, editors, and artists involved, let me apologize, for hurting anyone's feelings, but here's where it "cuts to the quick of it."What the hell were you thinking? First, there is NO reference to the Dragonlance product line anywhere in the book. There isn't even a legal disclaimer that Krynn, Sindri, Maddoc or other characters are trademarked names of the Dragonlance line. To me, this is saying you don't consider it a part of the Dragonlance Brand. I can only assume that the Mirrorstone books are doing so well, the Dragonlance logo is an albatross to the book's sales, and removing it helps your sales so that booksellers don't think of it as "yet another shared world book."

At the San Francisco Borders, on Tuesday, there were copies of the Practical Guide next to the young adult books. There was also one in the adult shared world section, and another in the Borders "recommended list" section and another in a juvenile section. By yesterday, all the copies were gone (I had the last copy) and the store is ordering more. So it's doing well. But I think this gets to be a big problem. I can see, sooner or later, a bunch of young adults coming onto this board thinking they have an idea of what dragons look like, and we veteran fans will probably come down on them for reading that book.

Secondly, while it notes itself as a practical guide to dragons, it doesn't have enough about dragons. The draconomicon was far more complex. It has a huge mythology, including physilogy, the eyes, the draconis fundementum, and even a bunch of lairs for every metallic and chromatic type. You get the feeling of how the analytical mind of the gold dragon creates a different lair compared to the swampy lairs of the black or the the volcanic lairs of a red dragon. Yet, the Practical Guide to Dragons has little of that, since it's a much simpler book. In my mind, the Practical Guide is like a primer to draw 8-10 year-olds into the Young Adult line of books, so that Young Adult books can draw them into the Adult DL bookline. If that's so, then I think the editor should have used more pictures.

Thirdly, and this is for the editors and producers of the book, not the writers, the choice of art was not a wise one. I know it's designed for getting kids into D&D rather than just Dragonlance, but is that really the wisest of moves? Hell, you have a Dragonlance animated movie. Did it occur to you that a Practical Guide to Dragons using THE ANIMATED MOVIE ARTWORK, might be a little better Marketing system than using Lockwood stuff, and recycling Draconomicon artwork???

In my opinion, if you're an adult, avoid this book. It doesn't present information that will satisfy the mature palette. If you're a hard core DL fan, you don't need this book. While the dragons mechanically are still the same, I think folks will get turned off by the artwork. And there's the upcoming Sovereign Press book Dragons of Krynn, with Elmore Artwork. If you're a D&D3.5 fan, I would recommend the Draconomicon rather than this book, since that book simply has more crunch and fluff.

This book is designed for young kids who might happen to like dragons. And young kids won't be so concerned with how this book is or isn't a Dragonlance book. If it'll inspire young minds to read a Dragonlance book or get them involved with Dungeons and Dragons, I say get a copy.

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