Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fantasy: An Artist's Realm review

Fantasy: An Artist's Realm
by Ben Boos
Candlewick Press
October 2010

I loved Swords: An Artist's Devotion, a 2008 debut offering by Ben Boos, and am delighted to see him return with this new volume. Boos, a former graphic designer for video games such as Diablo II, brings his artistic skill and love of ornate detail to this follow-up, a highly illustrated "guide" to the land of New Perigord. Medievalist settings draw on fantasy tropes such as walled cities, arboreal dwellings and heavily armored adventurers. Full color digital illustrations alternate to pleasing effect with line drawings set against a faux-parchment background.

Boos owes a heavy debt to Tolkien, particularly in his treatment of dwarves, elves, goblins and dragons. The book is written in a style halfway between travel guide and history book, outlining the classes, races, and monsters of New Perigord. There are several requisite maps, of course, including a double fold-out spread of the entire realm, which stretches from mountain ranges to the coast, encompassing human cities, elven woods, minotaur lands, a necropolis, ruins and deserts. In many ways, Fantasy: An Artist's Realm, seems so much like a Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying handbook, all it lacks are stats tables and a few gameplay rules. An enterprising game master could certainly draw inspiration from this book to create a campaign.

I'll definitely be putting this book in the hands of reluctant readers who will find the non-linear encyclopedic text and highly visual nature of the work appealing and worth poring over.

I borrowed this book from the library.


  1. Oh a former graphic designer you say? That alone would make me want to pick this one up just to look at the illustrations. Judging by the cover, I imagine this entire book is stunning! Thanks so much for sharing this one Madigan:)

  2. Oooh, so pretty! I love looking at fantasy illustrations. Thanks for the heads up about this artist.

  3. Don't miss his first book, either. I wasn't sure how he could make 96 pages of just swords fascinating, but he did.



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