Writer - Clayton Emery
Cover art - ...ehm... the colofon doesn't actually say who did the covers! How sloppy! But as mercury01 pointed out in the comics, the signature of Brom can be found on the back.
First released in August 2002
The Circle of Seven and Hazezon infiltrate Tirras in an attempt to kill Johan but they get captured. They are put to work building skyships, which Johan intends to use to conquer Efrava. They steal one to escape but crash on a Magnetic Mountain, forcing them to make a long trek to the sea in an attempt to escape.
During this trek they find the Dark Heart of the Wood, in the former Tabernacle at Pendrel Vale. This is where Terent Amese once created the Efravans and all sorts of other hybrid creatures. Jedit is visited by a spirit who he thinks is his grandmother, who lures him into the ruins. There he is suddenly attacked by Ur-Drago. It turns out that the original Ojanen, champion of the tiger warriors, rebelled against Terent Amese (we are not clearly told how or why), who then created Ur-Drago to destroy him. The grandmother spirit was actually the lover of the original Ojanen, who wanted revenge on him for abandoning her and Terent Amese. She thinks she has it when Ur-Drago nearly kills Jedit, so she disappears, but then Jedit musters the last bit of his power and manages to kill Drago. Jedit survives, but gets depressed over the fact that he will have to tell his people their myths are false.
After getting back home Adira and her crew go on another pirating adventure, this time to secure powerstones so Bryce and Palmyra can create their own army of airships. While in a conflict with Ramirez DePietro over de stones found in Alchor's Tomb, Jedit has an encounter with the Master of the Hunt, a mysterious demi-god who helps Jedit over the depression he's feeling. Once the powerstones are secured and the first airship is aloft, the good guys head to Efrava in an attempt to mobilize the tiger warriors against the coming Tirrans. Which of course fails at first, until they capture a bunch of Johan's minions who were carrying out assassinations in Efrava. (Which means Johan has been creating alliance between his enemies via poorly thought out assassination attempts for three books straight!) The crew then makes a tour past the other three cat warrior tribes to mobilize them for war as well.
The Tirran fleet makes it to Efrava and war breaks out. The good guys manage to set a number of airships aflame, and fling meat to others to attract sand wurms, but it all comes down to a personal fight against Johan. First he faces Adira and cuts out her heart, after which Jedit tackles him over the edge of the ship. The two are badly hurt by the fall, but Johan boasts about his immortality. Only to be eaten by a wurm.
The epilogue says that in the following years the Robaran Mercenaries became so numerous that they spread all over Dominaria and then started founding settlements, becoming rulers just like Adira and Hazezon. Hazezon came to be known as "One of the Two" and disappeared after another 10 years of ruling Bryce. The legends say he build a fleet of airships, had many adventures and eventually was reunited with Adira, who sailed her own ship through the clouds. Jedit kept on adventuring until he was old, then returned to Efrava to lead it and found a dynasty. Eventually he led his people back to the Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and founded an empire.
As so often with part three of a trilogy, I find myself repeating what I already wrote. This book has lots of padding, the characterization is meh, on the whole the book is quite boring, Clayton Emery seems to come alive when he gets to do his own thing (the Terent Amese/Ur-Drago/Ojanen chapter) but doesn't appear to care much for retelling the plot of the comic... it is, all in all, exactly what you would expect after having read the previous two books. I will thus only make a handful of observations specific to this book and then quickly move on to the trivia and continuity sections.
- From the beginning it's really obvious that the story wants to get into the backstory of the tiger warriors, as Jedit suddenly mentions Terrent Amese every single time he speaks, while the name was mentioned maybe once or twice in the entirety of the last book. You need some foreshadowing of course, but it is always funny to me when characters suddenly develop a new vocabulary for plot reasons.
- Johan is better written than the previous two books! And by that I mean he starts of with a victory when the Circle of Seven is captured, then at least gets to look intimidating while they narrowly escape... and then doesn't appear in the story until the very end. Hard to look bad when you're not there!
- The Master of the Hunt is really creepy. He seems like a good guy, giving advice and helping people, but he induces love or lust in all the women around him. Adira seems to like him, even going back to him after their first encounter to sleep with him. Last time we saw her she got furious at the People of the Pines for giving her a lust-inducing drug, and here it is also entirely obvious that some magical influencing is going on, but apparently it is different when a hunky demi-god does it. It's a very weird and skeevy scene, and I don't like it.
- Just like in Johan, the final resolution is very short. Johan appears, gets to kill Adira, and then Jedit tackles him. Some more boasting and he's eaten. Not that the worst written bad guy in Magic deserved a better death, but it does feel weird to sit through three books of people worrying about this guy, only to have him defeated in under three pages. Also, since all that matters is defeating him in single combat, all the build up about gathering the powerstones and making allies of the other cat warrior tribes becomes pointless filler.
- Adira at one point cusses people by calling them "Gollywogs"... look, I know fantasy writers like to us old-timey words in their settings, but we stopped using certain old-timey words for a reason...
- Once again we have references to gnomes and halflings, and once again I am surprised the editor didn't take them out, considering Magic doesn't have halflings and usually only has artifical gnomes. Then again, this trilogy is based on Legends, so perhaps they are referencing the Quarum Trench Gnomes. (Who, as far as I know, have no known story behind them.)
- The symbol that Jaeger wore around his neck, which Johan took after his death, is said to be the Glyph of Life. Which is not what it looks like in the original comic, but at this point we've left that version behind almost entirely. Other than there being a battle at Efrava nothing in this trilogy matches the comic after the Beast of Bogardan attack halfway through last novel.
- This also goes for the cat-warrior backstory. In the comic there were 9 cat warrior tribes and the original Ojanen drowned himself as sacrifice to Terrent Amese, who wanted to punish the tribes for "immorality". Amese then killed the other 8 tribal leaders to resurrect Ojanen, and had him lead the tribes into Efrava. Here there are only 4 tribes, only 1 of which lives in Efrava. The whole drowning and being reborn stuff is missing from the story entirely.
- This time in the "vague prophecy" department, Jedit muses whether One could be tigers, as they live solitary lives, and Two could be tiger warriors because they were made from tigers and humans. Later he calls the ghost of the original Ojanen's lover None because she's a ghost, and Ur-Drago One because he's singularly focused on revenge. In the end I guess Hazezon and Jedit are Two, as they both survive and Hazezon gets the nickname "One of the Two"? Honestly, I've mostly stopped caring two books ago.
- While trying to get the powerstones out of Alchor's Tomb, Ramirez DePietro accidentally sets free an Infernal Medusa. The Master of the Hunt says she is "A mistake. She is a misbegotten daughter of a dragon" and that gorgons enjoy cruelty, which is why they don't turn animals to stone: there is not enough terror to enjoy there. Oh, and the snakes on her head are not real, "merely fleshy appendages similar to fingers or an elephant's trunk".
- There aren't as many curse-references here, though when Circle of Seven archer Heath gets into a shouting match with Tor Wauki (who is working for Ramirez DePietro) Tor boasts about shooting the brother of Al-abara from his carpet and knocking a ruby out of the crown of the Queen of Lucrazia.
- We learn that during Johan's trip around Efrava, at the beginning of Jedit, he was secretly poisoning the land.
- One continuity issue reopened here is that of Dominaria's history with airships. Back in Ashes of the Sun the story of a flying ship was considered a myth, and at various points in the Weatherlight Saga it was said that the Weatherlight was the first one since Thran times. But then in Invasion suddenly Benalia has a whole fleet of them. And now Tirras and Bryce also have entire fleets, despite this story happening around the time when Urza was building the Weatherlight!
- The powerstones these ships use to fly are different from what we saw in the Weatherlight Saga though. These are enchanted with flying spells and lift the ship by rising into the air while in cages, literally dragging the ship upwards. This reminds me more of the "Blue Moon" story from The Myths of Magic. They also shrink when used up. Still, Hazezon says they are only found in ancient ruins, which seems to indicate they are Thran artifacts.
- The fact that these flying ships are invented by Johan around the same time Urza is doing the same opens up the possibility for some interesting fixes though. I can imagine that somewhere among the Tirran forces there is a artificer called Malzra who actually came up with the designs for the ships. I can totally see Urza escalating a small-scale war in a backwater region just to test out some airship designs and to get people to unearth more powerstones. (To be clear: there is 0 evidence for this. The continuity of Dominarian airships is just a complete mess. But this could fix at least one aspect of it.)
- The funny thing is that the story keeps just what Johan is building a secret for several chapters, but the back cover already gives away that we are dealing with flying ships. Heck, there was already one on the back cover of Johan!
- Johan gave us a map, and Jedit gave us more details on the western side of Jamuraa, this time the crew heads east after crashing in the mountains, giving us some more information about the geography in that direction. The mountains north of Tirras are the Blue Mountains, home to the Aerathi Berserkers. East of those lies the Midmercian Sea. The landbridge connecting western Jamuraa to Centeral Jamuraa is the Onyx Bridge, "an ishtmus barely ten leagues wide". South of it lies the Bight of Ishan. If you then head west again you get that pointy bit of land underneath the forest. This is called the Horn of Plenty. The water west of it is the Bay of Shaibara, on which the country of Yerkov lies. (Shaibara is also a country, and one that you can actually see on the map.)
- I initially figured the big forest in the east was just Efrava, but this book splits it up in a bunch of different places. The four cat-warrior tribes, the Efravans, Khyyiani, Hooraree and Sulaki all live in oases, the first two surrounded by the Sukurvia desert, the later two surrounded by grassland. The Sulaki live a half day's walk from the real forest, the Scarwood, which is inhabited by tiger-hunting elves and apes who call Jedit "Durran D'Messe", thinking he is the reincarnation of Terrant Amese. This is also where the Dark Heart and the Tabernacle are located.
- Finally, to the south, in the Sea of Serenity, lie the Cocobar islands, including the island Koltos and the port Sarixa. On Koltos stands Alchor's Tomb.
- Scarwood and the Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale are actually a bit of a continuity issue, though a very vague one.
- All original references to Scarwood came from The Dark, a set that took place on Terisiare, not Jamuraa. The only story source I remember talking about it was "Inheritance" from Tapestries, which references more The Dark cards, but technically could also happen anywhere else. The map of Dominaria that was released two weeks ago places Scarwood on Jamuraa though, so this version stuck in continuity. Feel free to decide for yourself whether this is a ret-con, whether there are two Scarwoods, or whether the handful of cards from The Dark that reference it randomly take place on Jamuraa instead of Terisiare. I'm going for the second option!
- As for the Tabernacle, we never saw that before either, but the Pendrell mists where located on Tolaria. Perhaps "Pendrell" is just a word related to temporal magic, and there are thus several Pendrell-y places around Dominaria? Or perhaps there are two Pendrell Vales and two Tabernacles. The one seen here is called the Tabernacle OF Pendrell Vale, rather than the Tabernacle AT Pendrell Vale, like the card. In this case the name is so specific I prefer the "Pendrell is just a word option", so we don't end up with two Tabernacles.
- One amazing thing I actually missed, but which regular reader Jonny F caught in my Jedit review, is that the Khyyiani cat-warrior tribe is not new, but first appeared in the Loot Niptil stories from Tapestries and Distant Planes! They are said to be the one tribe who doesn't exchange cubs with the others, and is thus dwindling from inbreeding. We see very little of them, as they chase our heroes off when they come looking for an alliance against Johan. Thus we get no explanation for how creations of Terrant Amese ended up worshipping Lord Windgrace, as they did in those old stories.
- Also worth noting perhaps: in the unpublished Prelude to War comic Lord Windgrace said his ancestors came from Efrava. Whether this is still in continuity is questionable, as in Invasion it was said he predates Urza, and Efrava might be a lot younger than that. But more on that below, in the timeline section.
- The Hooraree are the oldest of the 4 tribes, the others having splintered from them as they outgrew their oases. This would've been an interesting parallel to Tirras' population also having outgrown what the region can support, but that parallel is never made.
- All over the internet I see references to Terrent Amese being a planeswalker, but this is actually not in the novel. His m.o. as an fickle god seems to fit that explanation of course, but we have no proof of it.
- We do hear he also created cat warriors from cheetahs, as well as minotaurs, bird-maidens and viashino. As bird-maidens are from Rabiah that does sound like Amese can move between planes, but again, no solid proof.
- There is no mention of centaurs, but I imagine the hatred those showed towards tiger warriors in the last novel has something to do with Amese creating them to fight the cat warriors after the first Ojanen's rebellion.
- Ur-Drago was created from a tortoise, a brown horse with white mane, a black bull and a gold mask. and was named after a "mythic dragon"! Man, I wish I had remembered that little throwaway line back when the last Commander set came out! The Ur-Dragon was always said to be a kind of platonic ideal of a dragon rather than an actual creature, until Commander 2017 described it as "an immensely powerful entity from the dawn of time" and "the progenitor from which the dragons of the Multiverse spawned". Sam Keeper had a good article on GatheringMagic on the shift in portrayal back when that Commander set came out, if you are interested.
- Ur-Drago seemingly dies, but has a chronologically later appearance in the novel Final Sacrifice, which is also written by Clayton Emery. With Ur-Drago being a weird creation of a planeswalker I can see it coming back from the dead or falling through time or something.
- While going after the powerstones Adira runs into a rival pirate, Ramirez DePietro, who looks like he is 15, but sounds ancient. and has Tor Wauki working for him. He boasts (although Adira doesn't believe him) of having drunk from a magical spring of eternal youth. This all is in contradiction with Legends II, where we will meet a younger Tor Wauki, but where DePietro is said to be dead. But we'll dig into that when we do the Legends I/II comparison article.
- At one point the Null Moon is called the Glitter Moon, which was its original name from way back in the pre-revisionist era. Odd to see it again, because during the Weatherlight Saga it was consistently called either the Null Moon or the GliMMer Moon.
- There is a quick mention that Shauku is now gone from Arboria, as a few People of the Pines turn up in Bryce to help in the war against Johan.
There is a bit of a gap between Jedit and Hazezon, but not a very big one. By the end of this novel it's been two years since Johan's visit to Efrava at the beginning of Jedit. Since all we know timelinewise is that these books happened 400 years after the Ice Age those 2 years aren't really significant enough to mention on the timeline. There are some interesting things to note though. Let's start with the most annoying one.
When Jedit wanders through the Tabernacle and sees murals depicting Terrent Amese creating viashino and bird-maidens I got really excited. I love it when things are tied together in one neat bundle of continuity, so having an origin for the various beast-folk on Dominaria (or, as the bird-maidens hint, the entire Multiverse) is fantastic! But then that stupid, stupid ghost disappears while saying "seven centuries I awaited vengeance".
Seven centuries! That puts the creation of all those creatures in the last part of the Ice Age! Making their species younger than Freyalise! But we've seen cat warriors, viashino and minotaurs all the way back in The Thran, which is 8 millennia before this story, rather than 7 centuries! So... did all those creatures come about millennia before, and did Terrent Amese merely created a bunch of copies of already existing species? That would mean this isn't cleaning up continuity at all. We actually have more clutter with there being several separately created species of cat warrior, minotaur and viashino! That's just annoying! Personally I choose to believe the ghost is utterly terrible at counting and that Terrent Amese's antics actually happened in pre-Thran times.
Note that this later creation of the Efrava cat warriors also invalidates their link with Lord Windgrace, as I mentioned above. Another reason for me to prefer an earlier placement on the timeline. But unfortunately the text doesn't support that reading. You have to ignore what the ghost says if you want to have this be the origin of Dominaria's beastfolk.
Stupid, stupid ghost!
On to something cooler. At the end Hazezon says "Jamuraa could cease to be a near-empty backwater and become a great power like Benalia or Kjeldor".
Let's ignore for a minute the nonsense that Jamuraa is a near-empty backwater when it is also home to Zhalfir, one of the most ancient and powerful states on the planet. Hazezon is probably only talking about Southern Jamuraa, or the Tirras/Palmyra/Bryce region. And we'll also ignore the reference to Kjeldor. Yes, that nation is gone at this point, absorbed into New Arigve, but that isn't a big problem. Hazezon could just mean that their region could become a great power like Kjeldor once was.
No, the interesting part is the reference to Benalia. Back in The Duelist #14 we learned the history of Darien's Roost/Epityr, Sheoltun and Benalia. It was said that it took 300 years for Darien's Roost (founded in the 20 years after the end of the Ice Age, as we saw it in The Shattered Alliance) to turn into Epityr, at which point it was conquered by Sheoltun. It was liberated by Serra Angels, which led to the collapse of Sheoltun over several centuries. Then Benalia rose in Sheoltun's place.
Clearly this no longer fits completely if Benalia is already a "great power" 400 years after the Ice Age. Either we have to shrink the 300 years before the Sheoltun conquest, or the centuries it took for that empire the collapse. I'm going for the latter, as it is the more vague timespan. Plus, it allows for more time for Kjeldor and Balduvia to merge and form a New Argivan identity before Sheoltun comes in.
Now for a biggie. Back when I looked at the Wayfarer comic I gave the Gathering of the Sages of Minorad a preliminary placement of 3000 AR on the timeline. We knew it happened at the end of the Flood Ages, but just how long those took was not entirely clear. Since then I've been pushing the Gathering back further and further, as later sources made it clear that the Flood Ages lasted at least several centuries. With the Legends I block we've finally covered the last source I wanted to look at in relation to this, and just a few weeks ago an article on MagicTheGathering.com gave a definitive date for the end of the Flood Ages: 3285 AR (which is the year in which the Tolarian Academy was founded). So the time has come to find the final placement for this Minorad business.
Clearly we are going to keep this new date of 3285 as the end of the Flood Ages (which I think is the most recent source I've ever used on this blog!). I also really want to keep the 400 years after the Ice Age date given in this trilogy. This does mean that we have to discard a reference in The Story of the Battlemage Ravidel which places the adventures of Jedit inside the Flood Ages. This is unfortunate but on every metric on which I weigh sources the Legends I cycle trumps TSotBR. It's published later, it's an actual story instead of a background source, it was published by WotC rather than a third party, and it gives a more clearly defined date.
Now for the Gathering of the Sages of Minorad. Unfortunately we can't just plop it down in 3285, at the beginning of the new age. Yes, TSotBR says it happens "as the last vestiges of the ice age disappeared on Dominaria", as a new age is dawning, but the comic Serra Angel says it happens between the World Spell and the Gathering, while the overview in Urza-Mishra War #2 places Serra Angel after the Jedit Ojanen comic. So if we want to keep the original order (with Legends I replacing Jedit. It does keep the "400 years after the Ice Age" bit from the comic after all), this would put Serra Angel after Hazezon, and the Gathering of the Sages of Minorad later still.
So we are faced with a conundrum. Do we move the Gathering back to the very beginning of the period, thereby ignoring the original order of the stories, or do we keep that order, thereby making sure the Gathering is no longer the first event of the new age?
I would argue that this second option is the most faithful to the original text. Keep in mind that TSotBR is pretty vague, only saying it happens at the start of the new age. That age lasts from 3285 until the Invasion in 4205. What counts as the beginning of a 920 year period? The first century? Currently I've got the Legends I trilogy at ~3350 on my timeline, so the Gathering could happen two decades later and still happen within a century of the founding of the Tolarian Academy. If you think a century too long, also keep in mind that ~3350 is a date based on the presumably approximate "400 years after the Ice Age" figure, rounded up to the nearest 50. If we don't round off and assume 400 years can also mean 380 years, the Legends I trilogy could happen as early as 3314, a mere 29 years after the founding of the Tolarian Academy. So I think we can maintain the original order without contradicting the earlier sources.
Now, you could argue that we might not contradict any precise wordings, but we are contradicting the original intent by putting post-Flood Age events before the Gathering. That's undeniably true. And I did like the dichotomy visible on my timeline so far, with the Flood Ages ending with a sincere-but-failed attempt at setting up a center of learning on Minorad, followed by a morally-compromised-but-successful attempt at the same thing on Tolaria. But these things can happen in shared universes. New events get added to timelines, and earlier empty spots get filled in. Heck, Jeff Lee called the entire period between Alliances and 4000 AR "The Empty Quarter", but Urza's block as filled that period in with so many stories it would be ridiculous to still call it Empty.
Obviously I have to stick to what the sources say, rather than what I think would be nice. The one concession I will make is that I'll move Legends I from a date rounded-of-the-nearest-50 (3350) to rounded-of-to-the-nearest-10 (3330) to move the Gathering a bit earlier in the timeline. Serra Angel and the Gathering will then have to make do with a "After Hazezon" placement. Heck, I'll be generous and make it "Shortly After Hazezon", to indicate it has to happen at the beginning of the post-Flood era.
Which brings me to a more general gripe about this placement. The period after the founding of the Academy was so neat. We went from Dragon's Paw to Time Streams to Scars of the Legacy to Of Protectors and Pride to part 1 of Bloodlines... and now we dump a vague approximate date and two even vaguer "after such and such" dates in it. Such a shame! To retain the clarity we had before, I would like to make a graphic representation of the timeline with at least two columns. One for the "definite" dates, and one for the more vague ones. I'm not a graphic designer myself though, so if any of you know an easy to use and inexpensive program to make such a thing, please let me know in the comments!
Thus we end the Legends I overview. Check back next week for more annotations on the current Dominaria story, and the week after that when we start looking at the Otaria Saga!