“Beasts & Behemoths: A Young Adventurer’s Guide (Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer’s Guides)” by Dungeons & Dragons, Jim Zub, Stacy King and Andrew Wheeler. New York: Ten Speed Press (Crown Publishing Group), 2020. 112 pages, $12.99 (hardcover).

If you have ever had the wish to get your kids interested in fantasy, these young adventurer guides are perfect. They are an amazing introduction into the world of Dungeons & Dragons. I discovered them at Barnes & Noble and decided to buy “Wizards and Spells” for myself. I was new to D&D, and it seemed a much more precise way to study the vast world of the game. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and worth the money just for them.

There are now several in this series of guides including “Dungeons & Tombs,” “Monsters & Creatures,” “Warriors & Weapons” and “Wizards & Spells.” “Beasts & Behemoths,” the most recent guide, was published in October.

These are aimed for grade levels 3-7 and the reading level of 8 to 12 years. If your kids have ever been curious about your Dungeons & Dragons game or wanted to play, using these would be a great way to help them build a character and figure out how to join in the fun. Since we are all being safe, and most games are not occurring right now unless virtually, perhaps you could even help your child set up a world and play a game with them!

Use this guide to save your life in the game! With its illustrated bestiary and notes on the most memorable monsters, you can be prepared for any battle. It covers the smallest beasts to the largest behemoths. It can help introduce you to the unusual creatures in the Dungeons & Dragons world, and it also gives you an explanation of where to find them, what abilities and magical powers they may possess and just hopefully enough knowledge to defeat them! The illustrations will help to ignite your imagination and craft a story to share with friends. It also gives storytelling tips that can help you come up with creative problem-solving solutions when battling the deadly monsters presented is not going the way you hoped!

As I play a Wizard in my Dungeons & Dragons campaign, I loved the “Wizards & Spells” guide! It helps lay out the enchanted beings, magic users and spells of the world in game. While it is not all comprehensive, it is certainly enough to get you started (as can be said of each of these guides individually). It explains how the spells are made and how to use them in game. Plus, there are great illustrations of the magical creatures with features from popular characters. “Monsters & Creatures” covers the extra scary beasts, as well as those that excite us all such as Dragons. From ones that live underground to soar above, to roam the forests, this guide will help you learn their size, abilities and give tips on how to defeat them.

“Weapons & Warriors” is perhaps the best guide to buy for your young adventurer starting out as it gives information on the different races and people within the world. It then covers weapons, armor, clothing and equipment. Most importantly, however, it gives sample profiles and flow charts to help you brainstorm and create your own character to play! To complete the current collection, you need “Dungeons & Tombs” so you can learn about the challenging worlds and settings you can put your characters in! With maps, illustrations and details about the adventurer’s world, it helps give tips on how to travel, survive and thrive in the Dungeons & Dragons world. Both of these books also have prompts to help start you off on your adventure!

So whether you want to take advantage of having some extra time at home to get back into Dungeons & Dragons, or whether you are new to the world, pick these up and have some fun! It can be a weekly family night, or a game you play virtually with friends! Beware, though, that it often causes a dice obsession!

Launching in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons has created a vast role-playing world and game, creating its own traditions along the way. With a mix of adventure, choices and actually using strategy (if that’s the way you play), you get to tell incredible stories and roll some dice! Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto who has worked with a multitude of clients and well-known projects.

– Reviewed by Fallon Willoughby, first-year experience instructor, Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College.