It would be easy to hate Dirk Stanley. He's that guy that walks into the room, that does everything you do, only a million times better. He's probably a pretty cool guy, to boot. And that would just make him hate you more. Far Away Land is not a game that everyone is going to embrace: it's too unique for that. But in the context of what it does, it does everything right. Let's start with the art. This book is worth the price of admission simply as a collection of great fantasy art. Stanley manages to conjure up Tom Wham, Matt Groening, and Scott McCloud all at the same time. The art might be jarring and not correct for a darker game, but it is perfect for this. The tone of the game is light hearted high adventure. This feels a lot like the early, heady days of TSR. Imagine walking into a bungalow where Tom Wham and James Ward have been on a blackout drunk designing a game...pages everywhere...and when you put them together, it's a lot like this. The rules lite approach allows him to cram his core rules, optional rules, side games, Monster Manual, and Deities and Demigods into one set of covers, with room left over for the world itself with more detail than E. Gary Gygax put into the first edition of Greyhawk. In hand, this book is small but gorgeous. It says Tome of Awesome right on the cover, and it is that.
Game design is a quiet art, without a lot of real world accolades and one of the smallest target audiences one can labor to please. It would be easy to hate Dirk Stanley for being so damned brilliant, but let's not do that. Instead, if ever we see this guy at a panel or onstage at a con, let's stand up and shake the rafters. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Mr. Dirk Stanley....