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Publisher's Summary

The life story of Gary Gygax, godfather of all fantasy adventure games, has been told only in bits and pieces. Michael Witwer has written a dynamic, dramatized biography of Gygax from his childhood in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to his untimely death in 2008.
Gygax's magnum opus, Dungeons & Dragons, would explode in popularity throughout the 1970s and '80s and irreversibly alter the world of gaming. D&D is the best-known, best-selling role-playing game of all time, and it boasts an elite class of alumni - Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, and Junot Diaz all have spoken openly about their experiences with the game as teenagers, and some credit it as the workshop where their nascent imaginations were fostered.
Gygax's involvement in the industry lasted long after his dramatic and involuntary departure from D&D's parent company, TSR, and his footprint can be seen in the genre he is largely responsible for creating. But as Witwer shows, perhaps the most compelling facet of his life and work was his unwavering commitment to the power of creativity in the face of myriad sources of adversity, whether cultural, economic, or personal. Through his creation of the role-playing genre, Gygax gave two generations of gamers the tools to invent characters and entire worlds in their minds.
Told in narrative-driven and dramatic fashion, Witwer has written an engaging chronicle of the life and legacy of this emperor of the imagination.
©2015 Michael Witwer (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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By Sam on 11-16-16

A Story of Bittersweet Successes

Empire of Imagination is a bit of a dramatic retelling of Gary Gygax's life, more in spirit than to the letter, but it benefits for not treating his story as a simple documentary. Conveying a vision is a big part of what he set out to do, so a small touch of the fantastic actually seems more faithful than doing it any other way.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the story behind Dungeons and Dragons and its creator. It's primarily a business story, but it comes with a lot of character and passion to push things forward. There's invention, betrayal, difficult choices to make and a cast of rivals and friends who periodically operate by his side. It's a cohesive enough tale that by the end, I was eagerly awaiting the classic return to form where everything finally wraps up and comes full circle, somehow forgetting that real life is rarely that poetic.

And that about sums up this book. It's a complex weave of a narrative with fantastical segments interspersed for tone, but in the end it's still grounded in reality. It's not the rags-to-riches, feel-good story I expected, but it was a journey worth having.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

By Larry P. Price on 04-04-17

Low Expectations Unfounded; Great Book

I didn't expect the story to be so compelling. Gary Gygax was an inspired genius entrepreneur.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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By Russell Tomlinson on 09-22-17

Creative genius but business disaster

I grew up with D&D in the 70's and 80's and Gary Gygax was the wizard who inspired it all.This book recounts the rise and fall of Gary Gygax and the legacy which he created.The drama surrounding TSR was as dramatic as any D&D adventure.Recommended listening.

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By Mr. J. J. W. Alderson on 01-10-17

One for the fans

I really enjoyed this book. It's definitely one for D&D fans and provides a really interesting history into the game and Gary.

I was unsure about purchasing this books and read a few reviews before hand which criticised the author of elaborating on personal situations and feelings which he wouldn't have know however I didn't feel that this detracted from the story and if anything is completely within the spirit of D&D.

The book is well narrated for the most part and I would recommend this to fellow geeks.

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By Anonymous User on 05-09-17

Pleasantly suprised at the quality!

I loved it, any RPG/D&D player will love the story of this. The author did an amazing job weaving Gary Gygaxs life.

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By nick on 04-03-17


I downloaded this on a whim, a half interest, as i enjoyed playing D&D in highschool and recently remembered its creator while listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. That was yesterday around 10:30 am. Its now a new day and ive finished listening to this entire biography. From the begining right to the end, i found this mans life, as told by Michael Witwer, to be entertaining, interesting, and inspiring. Sam Witwer also did a smashing job of narration. Ever holding his audiances attention and never apearing dull or uninterested in what he was reading.
(DM rolls a D20.......) its a 20 from me.

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