Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Born to Greatness

Part one: Born to Greatness
Part two: The Beckoning Sky
Part three: Never to be Free
Written by J. Robert King
Appeared in The Duelist #29, 32 & 34.

We start on a dark night, with a twelve year old Crovax reading a book about his favorite hero: Lord Windgrace. Suddenly he hears singing coming from his dad's parlor. He's not only forbidden from entering there, but it is said to be haunted by a ghostly hag. With his head still full of adventure stories he goes in anyway, and discovers an amulet. When he picks it up Selenia appears, who says she has to obey the owner of the amulet. A random comment from the young boy makes the angel smile, and that smile seems to be enough to get him to fall in love with her. Being a kid he first tries to command Selenia to be happy, but she tells him she can't be truly happy until she is free. Crovax immediately tries to find something hard to break the amulet, but stops when he sees the bust of his father. He vows instead to free her when he is a man and can stand up to his father.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Art of Magic the Gathering: The Rath Cycle

As this is one of the few books I do not have in my personal collection, let me start by giving many thanks to reader, commenter and occasional spellchecker Leonardo for providing me with the opportunity to do this review!

I've been doing this blog for little over a year now, and looking back I see that I've deviated a lot from my original planning. Partially for fun reasons, like people lending me books or magazines I do not own, allowing me to review them anyway. Other times it was just real life getting in the way, leading to delays. It really annoys me when that happens, but it turns out some good did come from it, as I am now writing my reviews of the Rath stories around the time Battle for Zendikar block is current. Reviews the first block that told the story through the cards, kicked of an ongoing storyline and came with an art book, while Wizards has just returned to showing the story in the cards, kicks of their new ongoing storyline and released their second art book? (Even called "The Art of Magic the Gathering: Zendikar", as if it is part of a series alongside the work I'm looking at today!) It's all very serendipitous, and you can certainly expect a comparison between the two blocks in my Rath block wrap-up article!

So, let's make this review a little more topical and put it side by side Magic's newest publication. They both have gorgeous art and plenty of lore tidbits, and are each well worth your time. Zendikar gives more space to exploring the plane, while Rath Cycle gives more attention to the characters, which is to be expected. Currently we are just coming of a years long stretch in which worldbuilding was the primary job of the creative team, so obviously they'd want to show of the world. Plus the Weatherlight has a literal boatload of characters while the Gatewatch, so far, only has four. I think Rath Cycle is my favorite of the two, partially because of nostalgia, and partially because it makes extensive use of sketches and paintings from the style guide and comes with some interesting behind the scenes information from the designers. Zendikar only has a handful of arts not taken from the cards and is written much more from an in universe viewpoint. The downside of Rath Cycle is that it keeps a lot of backstory deliberately mysterious, saving it for future stories, whereas Zendikar goes into great detail on the backstory of the plane, the Eldrazi, the planeswalkers and the current story. It almost feels like an encyclopedia of the Zendikar story, whereas Rath Cycle is much more of a companion piece to all the other media outlets that the Weatherlight story appeared in.

And... what more is there to say? The art is beautiful, as you would expect of a Magic the Gathering product, and that alone is enough to make me want to track down the book anyway, despite no longer needing it for my project. Lorewise it is not essential, but does contain a number of interesting facts that I will cover below.