I've recently bought this book and I'm currently wading through it.
I've worked with various versions of SQL server for about 7 years as a by-product of the job I do, so I thought it was time to get certified. I don't class myself as a beginner, but I'm not a pro either. Put it this way, I don't often come unstuck with regard to implementation or maintenance of a SQL server; certainly nothing that I can't solve by going online for 10 mins.
Firstly, this book seems quite dry. I find myself losing focus every couple of pages. Now, I don't like the style of certain have-fun-learning textbooks e.g. 'Head First' guides, but there has to be a happy medium between those and this in terms of delivering content. This book doesn't strike the balance for me.
Secondly, I've noticed a few mistakes. It's knocking my confidence in the material - if I can see some mistakes with my level of knowledge, what haven't I spotted which a pro might?
Next, the author is open about the fact that you won't find all of the material needed to pass the test within the pages of this book, resulting in frequent links to the Microsoft website. I find this a bit annoying as I can't just sit and read the material, I've got to off and do some alternative research. For £27 I expected a bit more.
The testing environment requires you to implement 6 or 7 virtual machines, or a test lab full of machines to enable you to set up a DC and various member servers. I obviously understand the reasons why but unless you've got access to these resources, you might struggle. They don't all need to be running at once so you might get away with running a few VMs on a server or a powerful PC. I point this out because it isn't obvious until you start reading the book.
This book assumes that you possess knowledge that you mightn't have - such as configuring a domain with a domain controller and various other member servers (including Sever Core!). You'll get the briefest of guides on how to do so, but you'll have to figure the rest out for yourself. I understand that Microsoft Certifications aren't for people who are brand new to the material, but come on! My skill set is software oriented - I manage a product which uses SQL server as its database platform. As such, I'm expected to 'know about SQL' but I'm not expected to know about server o/s configuration and implementation.
You'll probably need more than one book to learn everything you need for the exam. I'm already shopping around for additional material.
I really like SQL Server (ok, I'm a geek, I know) but this book seems to suck all of the fun out of it. I find it really dry and it has made the subject boring.
Aside from all of the above, most of the content is quite good. I am learning from it, slowly, and I've already picked up on things that I can use in my day to day role.
Consider this book to be more of a lengthy syllabus with a few exercises and some practice tests thrown in for good measure and you won't be disappointed.
You will be disappointed if you think you're going to enjoy this book, that it is a 'bible' type textbook containing everything you need to know or that it will make learning the material straight-forward. In short, it doesn't.
If you're an absolute beginner, think twice before buying this book. You'll probably think the learning curve is very steep, and the book itself might put you off unless you're determined to learn the content.
This isn't the first MS Press book which I've found to be like this. I wonder if it is a deliberate ploy by Microsoft to encourage you to go on the official course.