Dwarves War Fighting Manual by Den Patrick (book review).

November 17, 2014 | By | Reply More

Passing this book, ‘Dwarves War Fighting Manual’, around among my more geeky friends, the usual response was something along the lines of ‘However did this get published?’


This isn’t to say this book is bad. Far from it in fact. It’s really very entertaining but it’s an in-universe guidebook to a universe that doesn’t exist. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s a book about the lives and habits of Dwarves as they’re usually portrayed in fantasy literature and role playing games, but not specific to any one film, movie or game. It could just as easily be read and enjoyed by a fan of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ movies as by a hardcore ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ gamer.

Indeed, it’s gamers in particular that will find this book the most rewarding. It is an almost ostentatiously rich source of material for serious role players who want to give their player-characters depth and realism. Since it isn’t tied to any one legendarium or system of rules, this is a book that supplies ideas rather than the facts, giving RPG players the opportunity to develop nifty histories, psychologies and ambitions for their Dwarven characters. As an aside, it’s worth mentioning author Den Patrick has written similar books to this one about Elves and Orcs as well.

As its title suggests, this isn’t a novel with a linear storyline, but instead is presented as an investigation by a human scholar who lived among the Dwarves for an extended period of time. While he was there, he learned about their history, their society and, of course, their military. The Dwarves as portrayed here owe a lot to Scandinavian mythology, particularly in regard to their language, but also in the unparalleled quality of their metalwork, their mining skills and their preference for remote, mountainous countryside.

Though Patrick isn’t telling a story as such, his book allows the reader to see into a fictional world where humans live alongside and often fight with a number of other humanoid races, notably the Dwarves, Elves and Orcs featured in his three ‘War Fighting Manual’ books. Within this world there’s friction and frequently warfare between the major races, which his fictional researcher reveals through snippets of myths and recent history. So even though these ‘War Fighting Manual’ books are portrayed as non-fiction, there’s plenty of embedded storytelling.

Patrick presents his ‘Dwarves War Fighting Manual’ in a top-notch way, thanks to the colourful hardback binding that resembles a leatherback tome complete with metal clasps. The book is illustrated in black and white with drawings by Andrew White. Overall, for under a tenner, this little book is a definite gem, certainly to be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in fantasy fiction and pretty much essential reading for those who play Dwarven characters in role-playing games.

Neale Monks

November 2014

(pub: Gollancz. 137 page illustrated small hardback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-575-13279-5)

check out websites: www.orionbooks.co.uk and www.denpatrick.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy, Games

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