Sunday, 4 June 2017


Writer - J. Robert King
Cover art - Erik Peterson
Back cover art - Michael Sutfin
Interior art - Brian "Chippy" Dugan, Dana Knutson, Todd Lockwood, Anson Maddocks, R.K. Post, Mark Tedin & Anthony Waters.
First released in October 2000.

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm doing things a little differently for the Invasion cycle. Today I'll put up just the summary, trivia and continuity references for Invasion. Tomorrow you'll get the same for Planeshift, and next week for Apocalypse. Next week I'll also do a separate post with a review and continuity/timeline discussion for the entire trilogy.  They reason for this is that this trilogy is really just one big story, written by the same person. As such a regular review of Invasion wouldn't be able to go into a whole lot of plotlines that don't wrap up until later in the trilogy, while any comments on the writing style in the next two reviews would just go "Wel... what I said last time still counts".

We open up on the Weatherlight desperately trying to get to Benalia, but their planeswalking is disrupted by three massive Phyrexian portals in the sky. Eventually they manage to close them by going through them to Rath and blowing the portal generation ships up from the other side. But when they finally land in Benalia City to warn the people there of the invasion they get chucked into jail for Gerrard's desertion, alongside a mysterious Blind Seer who was preaching doom at the Weatherlight's landing spot. Benalia is utterly Routed by the Phyrexian commander Tsabo Tavoc while the crew escapes. They head of to a prison colony and recruit the prisoners there for their crew, and face Tsabo again, as she had stowed away in the ship. Again they escape, but Hanna ends up infected by the Phyrexian plague.

Meanwhile things are happening all over the world. Uzra and Barrin awaken the Metathran commanders Thaddeus and Agnate and send their army to besiege Koilos, where Tavoc has made her headquarters. This only leads to Tsabo developing an interest in Thaddeus, and then capturing and vivisecting him. In Zhalfir Teferi convinces Urza to teleport in-and-out the portals above his land to disrupt them. He then uses the energy released to phase out Northwestern Jamuraa and parts of Shiv, saving them from the invasion. Urza is furious that these powerful nations can now not fight against the invaders, but can do little about it. In Yavimaya Multani leads the defense. Eventually the forest manages to convert many of the Phyrexians into wood, and the so created woodmen defeat the rest. Multani then hops over puffs of pollen and algae to Llanowar, where he meets Eladarmi.

Eladamri, Lin Sivvi (still called Liin Sivi) and Takara have ended up in Verdura a month ago. Since then the elf commander has been accepted as a prophet of sorts, warning of the coming storm. A Llanowari king doesn't like him attracting followers very much, but just as Eladamri is about to be arrested the Phyrexians open up thousands of portals above the forest and drop endless bombs on top of it. The king is crushed immediately. Takara, who has secretly had been infected with the plague all along, saves a little girl but dies in the proces. Eladamri and Siv(v)i lead the Llanowari deep underground into the mysterious Dream Caves, where reality is malleable. They use these to heal all the people by making them dream themselves healthy. Then the Weatherlight appears, send by the Blind Seer. They have made another little trip to Rath where they collected Phyrexian specimens, which Orim used to create a vaccine for the plague. Llanowar is cured and inoculated, but it is too late to save Hanna, who is in a coma and thus can't use the Dream Caves to dream herself healthy.

Urza meanwhile gathers a group of planeswalkers for his cause: old hands Taysir, Daria, Freyalise, Kristina and Tevesh Szat, sort-off old hand Lord Windgrace, and new guys Bo Levar and Commodore Guff. He takes them to Tolaria where they train with the Titan Engines Urza created for them (we'll find out in Planeshift they need the mechs to survive Phyrexia without expending energy on warding themselves). This attracts the Phyrexians, and Urza decides to abandon Tolaria to them.

The nine titans go to Koilos, where the Weatherlight crew has also gone, and where Eladamri has become Thaddeus' replacement as general. Urza calls in Barrin and his forces, who were defending Urborg. Barrin is not happy about abandoning that fight, but thinks he can at least finally reunite with his daughter now. Only then does Urza tell him she has died. This finally breaks the long-suffering wizard, who Recovers his daughter's body and teleports to Tolaria, now overrun with Phyrexian forces. He places her in the tomb next to Rayne, originally made for Barrin himself, and then...

The storming of Koilos begins. Various warriors manage to get inside, but then things start going bad. Agnate is mentally shattered when he is forced to mercy-kill Thaddeus, while Tsabo uses Gerrard's grief over Hanna to mind-control him. Only Karn breaking his vow of pacifism manages to cause enough of a distraction for Squee to pass a sword to a released Gerrard, who almost kills Tsabo. The Phyrexian commander manages to escape through the portal though. Then the Blind Seer appears again, revealing himself to be Urza. He and Gerrard together destroy the portal.

The Coalition forces apparently decide they deserve a break because they have a big part for three days, which is rudely interrupted with the beginning of the Rathi Overlay. To be continued...

  • You'll notice at the top of this article that I've included a list of "interior art" credits. These novels, and this actually started since with Masques block, have pieces of concept art at the start of each chapter. I'm saving up to buy a proper scanner. Once I have it I'll go back and show those pieces of art to you.
  • Invasion block had a small touch of the proto-Time Spirals, reintroducing some long forgotten aspects of Dominaria, like Empress Galina and the Steel Leaf Elves, which had been introduced in the Encyclopedia Dominia, and had been pretty much forgotten about afterwards. The novel does use the Steal Leafs, but other than that its references to the game are mostly just in the form of random summonings by wizards: Firestorm Phoenixes, Duskrider Falcons, Mistmoon Griffins et cetera.
  • Teferi is often seen as a planeswalker who managed to retain his humanity better than others. He certainly is a nicer person than Urza, but when he phases out an entire subcontinent he does not seem too bothered about the thousands of people that will die due to tsunamis and the like. (There is a Phyrexian trolley barreling down the tracks. Ahead are several million people tied up. You can phase them out, but then the trolley will hit several thousand people tied up behind them, and there is a chance that you'll damage the timestream so badly that the phased out people will be lost forever... what do you do?)
  • In Yavimaya we are shown the Mori Tumuls, a gorge so deep its bottom is filled with flowing lava, that Magnigoth trees are desperately trying, and failing, to grow shut with their roots. We've not seen it before, but it was created by the Sylex blast, so it must have been there the whole time.
  • Yavimaya is the first place where the Kavu awaken. That name means either "Ever Watchful" or "Carved from Stone" in ancient druidic.
  • Well, I say "first place". We never actually see them anywhere else in the book. The cards make clear that they are everywhere though.
  • Speaking of card/book inconsistencies. I already mentioned in the post about the promotional comic that while the cards show the portal ships on Dominaria, but the book explicitly mentions that they stay on Rath, with their portals manifesting on Dominaria merely as gaps in the sky. Also: there is no indication here (or back in Prophecy) that Barrin is looking any younger. 
  • Weirdly, the Metathran are said to be "human, but barely so". It's especially weird contrasted to how Keldon were thought of as non-human in Prophecy!
  • Oddly, the Phyrexian plagues don't seem to be virulent in the slightest. Nobody else is infected, despite plenty of people hanging around Hanna and Takara. If you don't come into direct contact with the plague spores it seems you are safe.
  • Liv Sivvi is still called Liin Sivi here. But at least they fixed Darigaaz's species, who is now called a dragon rather than a "fire drake", like he was in Time Streams.
  • Oh, yeah, Darigaaz is in this book. Teferi phases out a large part of Shiv, including Jhoira and most of the Mana Rig, but Darigaaz stays behind to fight. He becomes more relevant to the story (sort off) next book.
  • Part of the Mana Rig becomes ambulant and stays behind to fight. You can see it on a handful of cards in the set. It doesn't play any further role in the story though.
  • There is a cameo of Molimo, who is initially wary of Multani, but aids him in fighting the Phyrexians nonetheless. What I thought was interesting is that Molimo says Freyalise rules Llanowar, rather than Gaea! Makes you wonder how thoroughly 'Lise converted the forest when even its Maro-Sorcerer no longer listens to Dominaria's World Spirit!
  • Tsabo Tavoc is fascinated by the metathran, so she has Thaddeus captured and summons a bunch of vat priests for... well, a vivisection, but its essentially a creepy, Phyrexian tea party from the looks of it.
  • In Urza's original plan the Nine Titans included Teferi and a never seen before guy called Parcher. (He's only mentioned here and will never be seen in the future either.) But when Teferi "does a Teferi", as Taysir calls it, he is replaced by Daria. Freyalise tries to get Urza to replace Tevesh Szat with Kristina, but Urza chucks out Parcher instead, as he is "a bit of a lunatic". Ever since storyline fans have been fascinated by Parcher, hoping (or joking about hoping) to have him make an appearance somewhere. Is there a mystery planeswalker in the story? Someone who broke Alara, some unnamed Lithomancer, a new member of the Gatewatch teased? You can bet money on someone in the comment section making a Parcher joke!
  • Freyalise wears a nose ring. Not sure if it is worth mentioning, but it was in my notes...
  • Invasion also introduces two new planeswalkers: Bo Levar and Commodore Guff. Levar is a captain and an interplanar cigar smuggler. Guff is a librarian. I used to always confuse those two. After all, "commodore" is a naval rank, so surely the pirate looking guy is Guff, and the other one is Bo Levar? But nope. The guy on Planeswalker's Mischief is Bo, Planeswalker's Mirth shows Guff. Odd.
  • These two are also references to editor Jess Lebow and fellow writer and continuity editor Scott McGough. King commends Lebow on his cigars in the dedication of Invasion, making Bo Levar his stand in, while in the dedication of Planeshift King mention's McGough's "valor against filthy rutting lich lord bastards", which is a line Guff later uses. 
  • Oh, and Bo Levar will turn out to be a character we already met, but more on that in Apocalypse! 
  • Helionauts are Tolarian airships, looking like galleons with a glass dome on top. Clearly this did not get communicated to Franz Vohwinkel

  • Fewsteem and Dabis, the two surviving named red-shirts introduced in Mercadian Masques, both die in the opening battles of the war. The first is blasted while shooting his canon (and he was so excited to get promoted to gunner in the epilogue of Masques!), the later gets killed when Tsabo infiltrates the ship.
  • Urza uses the falcon engines from Time Streams again. The Titan Engines the planeswalkers use even have whole batteries of them strapped to their back!
  • Koilos is said to have been closed since the end of Planeswalker. It's not said why or how it is now suddenly open again. Presumably the Phyrexians opened it, but then why didn't they do so sooner?
  • The Heart of Yavimaya appears a few times over the course of the cycle. It was slated to appear in the Alliances comic, but that was never published. We were told in Time Streams that the Weatherseed came from the oldest magnigoth tree in Yavimaya. Here we are officially told that that magnigoth is the Heart.
  • As I mentioned above, the Steel Leaf elves are back. They were previously only mentioned in the Encyclopedia Dominia. Planeshift would finally bring them into the cardgame. (Unfortunately for them, on one of the worst Gating cards)
  • Eladamri ends up defending the Llanowar elfhame of Staprion. This is a new one for us, but maybe it had already been named behind the scenes. The Encyclopedia Dominia did reveal the names of all Benalish clans, but not that of the Llanowari elfhames. Here there are also references to "the trade house of Kelfae" and "The port of Welspree of the Jubilar". Those could also possibly be elfhames, but we don't know for sure.
I could swear that we knew Pendelhaven was also one of the elfhames. And the MTGSWiki says it is in Llanowar... but I can't for the life of me figure out where that info comes from! I've just spend an hour googling and came up empty handed!
  • Freyalise knows Taysir and Daria already. Presumably they met during the Planeswalkers war, although that war must've gone different than in the unpublished comics, as Kristina is still a planeswalker, while Szat trying to blow up the world with the Grey Chime is not brought up. And you think they would bring that up, as his plans from the Ice Age comics are mentioned!
  • Taysir makes some comments about how the Anaba wouldn't let him get his body back until he "got shut of the rut". I wonder if this makes any sense whatsoever to people not familiar with the Homelands story.
  • ...and obviously I have a whoooooooole lot more to say about the inclusion of these Armada Comics era planeswalkers, but I'll save that for the actual review. Let's see how these characters are handled in the next two installments first.
  • When Barrin obliterates Tolaria, it is said he actually uses the same spell Urza cast with the Golgothian Sylex! Which is a bit odd. How he came to know this spell will later be explained in the Secrets of Magic anthology.
  • While Urza is picking up Taysir the Anaba are refered to as the Anoba, and An-Havva is said to be a minotaur city! That's just lazy, especially the Anoba thing. With Lin Sivvi/Liin Sivi they at least have the excuse that the novel and the cards were created side by side, but that Anaba had been around for half a decade at this point! Just check the spelling on your cards!
  • I'm saving the big continuity discussions for the cycle review, but I'll look at some minor ones during the looks at the individual books. For example: Eladamri calms the Llanowari by singing an ancient Skyshroud song. But the song mentions Volrath, who was born not even 30 years ago. A fraction of Eladamri's own lifetime! I guess the song is ancient, but changes the name the Evincar to that of whoever is the current one, and that Eladamri didn't bother to update it for Crovax's  ascension.
That's it for now. Come back tomorrow for the Planeshift summary, trivia and continuity references, and next week for Apocalypse and the review of the entire cycle!


  1. Why can Teferi phase out a subcontinent, but not the smaller locations with phyrexian troops? surely that would be an efficient way to get rid of entire armies with little bloodshed? As we later see with Zhalfir, you don't HAVE to ever phase them back.

    Did Teferi mention how he intended to phase Shiv and Zhalfir back, or WHEN he would make the attempt?

    Was there any foreshadowing to the phasing causing a rift / environmental damage which lead to the mending?

    what year does this take place?

    Why does Barrin casting obliterate not cause the same level of damage as when Urza used it? Is it because of the Sylex?

  2. Well, I'm not a planeswalker, but I think we must assume Teferi needed to get rid of a all the energy from the collapsing portal in a hurry, and thus couldn't focus on such specific locations.

    There is no mention of how or when Teferi wants to return. That he phases himself out always seemed a bit of a flaw in his plan to me. What the the Phyrexians win? Do you eventually just return and end up in a conquered world? Time Spiral sort off solves this by revealing that time still moves for at least part of the phased out realm.

    This story happens in 4205 AR. We'll later find out that Teferi and Jhoira will return in about 300 years.

    There is no foreshadowing that the time stream might be damaged either by Teferi or Barrin. The only thing Urza brings up is the people immediately killed by tidal waves due to a big landmass disappearing. As for why Barrin's blast doesn't cause another Ice Age... no idea. It's not explained.

    1. Wait a second. IIRC, Time Spiral dealt with it by a retcon: Teferi didn't actually phase himself out. At least that's my recollection. *shrugs*

      And as far as I remember, phased out objects are supposed to phased back in automatically, after certain time has passed (presumably that time depends on the design of the spell or amount of mana used by a wizard or a planeswalker). But once phased out, the control was lost over their fate.

      Zhalfir and Shiv were ultimately lost due to the rifts being closed, before they could have come back, I think.

      As for Barrin's sacrifice - notice that also the spell to end the Ice Age was compared in power to that of the Sylex Blast. So the environmental consequences do not have to be the same [except for the rifts themselves].
      To use more imaginative, fanon explanation, it could do with geography. Imagine nudging a planet with a big explosion either closer to its sun or farther from it - depending on the position of the planet when it happened. Of course, in Dominia there isn't only physics, but also 'magics', interactions between planes [like mana lines flowing between them], which could have been affected. My point being, that while we have no details about what exactly happened the fact that the effects were different doesn't seem implausible.