Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Dragon War

Written by Jack C. Harris and Alexander Glass
Appeared as a back/up story in Dakkon Blackblade #1

A “planes-traveling being" called Sivitri Scarzam once attacked the continent of Corondor, but was repelled by a a potion made of a poppy, created by a nature spirit. All but one of the dragons she commanded were killed and she fled the plane. Shortly afterwards Geyadrone Dihada turned up and turned the forest in which the poppy grew into a swamp.

“A few short years” after the events of the Dakkon Blackblade story, Sol’kanar hatched a plan to summon the last of Scarzam's dragons and use it to conquer Corondor. He was unable to summon himself, but he was forcing the two kingdoms next to his swamp, Khone and Shikar, to pay him tribute anyway, so he added potential wizards to his list of desired goods. Eventually two women were brought to Sol’kanar: Chondaeh from Shikar and Gydolien Mor of Khone.

Although the women were rivals, and their countries hated one another, after years of training they decide to work together to not just summon the last Scarzam Dragon, but also its rider, Sivitri. Sivitri immediately attacked Sol’kanar, recognizing that before he was corrupted by Dihada, he was the nature spirit whose poppy had killed all Scarzam's dragons! Gydolien tried, but failed, to claim the dragon for Khone, only managing to send it away. In retaliation Sol’kanar destroys Khone, then retreats into the swamp, now plotting the destruction of Sivitri Scarzam, and Gydolien is plotting vengeance against Chondaeh since it was her idea to turn against Sol’kanar, incurring his wrath.

No idea which woman is Gydolien, and which one is Chondaeh, but the one on the left seriously needs a doctor to look at that dislocated hip!

To be blunt, this isn't a very good story. It reads more like a summary actually. Chondaeh falls in love with someone, we're told, he's killed by people from Khone, we're told, Chondaeh vows vengeance, we're told... but we're not shown anything. No touching scene between lovers, no hateful swearing of vengeance, no nothing. As a result, it’s not a very exciting read, and the end with various characters swearing vengeance just leaves me cold as a result.

At one point Condaeh is quoted as saying, “Peace must prevail, even if the wicked must die.” …eh… that’s Jasmine Boreal’s flavor text! I guess it’s not attributed to anyone on the card, but still... seems odd for Jasmine to quote someone else. Perhaps originally Jasmine was going to be involved in the story, but the authors weren't allowed to use her in the end?


In this story it is stated that Sivitri rode “astride mighty dragons named for her”. But on Jeff Lee's site it is stated that the dragons and Sivitri are named after the Lesser Elder who sired that race of dragons, Scarzam. I'm inclined to believe the story over the site, no matter how ingrained that site has become into people's perception of continuity. In the end it's just a fan-site. In this case I can even imagine pretty easily what miscommunication lead to the difference: did someone write down “Scarzam Dragons were named after Scarzam”, meaning "Sivitri Scarzam", but did someone else mistake that for a separate character... Not sure if that is what happened, but I am sure that there is no evidence of a Lesser Elder called Scarzam even existing. tries to split the difference by saying Sivitri was the child of Scarzam, and in turn the dragons she rode on were hers. There is not a shred of evidence for that in this story though.

The story her is pretty clear on when it happens: the first conquest of Sivitri happened shortly before Dihada turned up, thus shortly before Fallen Angel started (By the way: more proof that pre-Brothers' War Corondor was a terrible place to live), the rest of the story happens a few years after the end of Dakkon Blackblade.

The Story of the Battlemage Ravidel thinks differently however. (Don't worry, eventually we'll be able to review one of these comics without finding TSOTBR contradicting it!) There it is said that Sol'kanar wants to summon Sivitri Scarzam since he has to compete with Trine, the fallen angel, for dominance over Corondor. Which seems like a complete contradiction of the text! Unless Sol'kanar was woefully uninformed and wanted to challenge Trine, not knowing she had been defeated years before.

While I was ambivalent about which source to believe when it came to the relative placing of Arabian Nights and Antiquities (As both contradicting placements came from supplemental material) here I have no problem choosing the text over the later summary story. Clearly great thought was placed in the order of the stories when they were first released, much more thought then was put in the chronology of TSOTBR. Jeff Gomez has told me since the last review that he was not always in control of the web content, another strike against TSOTBR. All of this is making the later placement of Arabian Nights look shakier and shakier.

So, are we done placing this story now? Nope! There's still another matter to discuss! It involves Jeff Lee's site again. There it is stated that Sivitri's first assault on Corondor happened during the Elder Dragon War. However, we've seen that this story happens "shortly" before Geyadrone Dihada enters the place and we know that Dakkon Blackblade happens post-Thran. This is also confirmed by the Dragon War story, since it features a Thran relic, described as "ancient". Now I haven't put the Elder Dragon War and the Thran on my timeline yet, but I'll spoil this for you: the War probably happens between -20.000 and -15.000 AR, and the Thran at -5000 AR. So placing Sivitri's attack during the Elder Dragon War is impossible, unless Geyadrone Dihada spends 10.000 to 15.000 years trying to conquer one measly bit of Corondor, which is nonsensical in its own right. At this point I'm wondering if Jeff Lee ever read the Dragon War story, or if this is another case of miscommunication. "Dragon War" is the term he used to describe the "Elder Dragon War", so you can see where things could've gone wrong. Since Jeff's site was long seen as a completely reliable source of pre-revisionist knowledge (And to be honest, there is a whole lot of good stuff on there!) his early date of Sivitri's assault on Corondor has ended up on the MTGSalvation timeline, among other compilations. I believe the actual text should take precedence though, so I will not follow suit.

So yeah, this really quite inconsequential story comes with a whole lot of continuity confusion. Far more than it's worth, really. That's the downside of sliding into obscurity: people half remember things about the story while discussing things, and in a community in which a lot of people only know the older sources from second hand mistakes start to be accepted as canon. Now I've untangled everything though, and I have complete confidence in putting the stories of the past week on the timeline in this order:
  • Sivitri Scarzam attacks Corondor but is defeated by pre-corruption Sol'kanar.
  • Shortly thereafter Geyadrone Dihada attacks Corondor.
  • Fallen Angel takes place over 326 years.
  • A few years later Dakkon Blackblade takes place.
  • A few years later after that Dragon War takes place.
There is some leniency in how far the stories take place from each other, given all the time spans given in "a few short years" and all, but logically they should all happen within a few decades at most from one another, allowing us to place this group of stories together at a place "millennia after the Thran" but "centuries before the Brothers' War" thanks to the known placement of Dakkon Blackblade.

So that is The Dragon War! Join me next week when we look at another comic that sounds like it should have everything to do with the Elder Dragon War, but really doesn't: Elder Dragons!


  1. Sivitri is a "planes-traveling being". That's interesting. The big question is, does that statement mean that she's a planeswalker, or that she's a non-planeswalker that manages to travel between planes.

    1. The story only says "planes-traveling being", so my money is on the latter. Otherwise it surely would've just said "planeswalker".