The Young Adventurer's Guide series is intended to introduce young readers to the world of Dungeons & Dragons in an easily digestible fashion. Each book hits on topics such as the basics of race, class, equipment, monsters, and locations in a broad, non-rules-focused approach meant to inspire its readers. Wizards & Spells, as the name might imply, dives into magical classes and magical equipment not yet covered in the previous books.
Wizards & Spells has perhaps the hardest job of all, because it needs to make the complex mechanics of magic easy for a young audience to understand. Instead of trying to quantify the millions of different combinations and abilities, the book instead chooses to take a "best of" approach, showing off some of the coolest and most classic spells to give readers an idea of what magic can do. The approach is effective; it creates evocative scenes instead of turning into a slog of repetitive information.
Structurally, this book follows a similar format to the Warriors & Weapons book which initiated the series; however, it replaces the racial section with an in-depth look at spell casting. While I think this was a wise trade off, the class pages could have been expanded. Unlike physical classes, which all fulfill very different roles, the spellcasters of D&D can sometimes blend together. Even an additional page for each would have been appreciated to help them stand out from each other. It’s a subtle change, but even I, as an experienced player, still sometimes struggle to find ways to separate sorcerers, wizards, and warlocks.
The artwork accompanying each class is just as beautiful as ever. Four books into this series, and I still don't know how to properly express how much I love the art. The cover alone should sell you on the series. Something I noticed this time around is the volume of high-quality art that readers receive. Every page seems to have at least one detailed illustration of one of the spells or magicians contained within. The legendary cleric Bel Vala seems to be the all star this time around, getting no less than four separate pages dedicated to her exploits.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm recommending Wizards & Spells. In fact, I recommend the whole series. At a mere $12.99 per book, they provide plenty of value individually or as a whole. The Young Adventurer's series is the perfect introduction to the art of character creation, and each installment is written with poise and care that may be enjoyed by both children and adults. If you're looking to get someone into D&D but are worried they might find it daunting, try picking up one of these volumes; it may just be enough to get them hooked.
Creative Team: Jim Zub (Author), Stacy King (Author), Andrew Wheeler (Author)
Publisher: Penguin Random House
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