Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Fifth Dawn

Writer - Cory J. Herndon
Cover art - Jim Murray
First release - May 2004

We start in an unexpected place: with Yert, the controller of a Reaper (=Harvester) that Glissa met in The Moons of Mirrodin and who was said to have been killed in The Darksteel Eye. He’s having visions of worlds without metal and a Mirrodin without life, while someone is telling him to wake up.

We then cut to Glissa and Slobad, who are still on the edge of the new lacuna created by the birth of the green sun. They discover the magic has caused loads of mutations to the wildlife. There is some random fighting with giant wasps and rats, and then the two are captured by the Viridian elves. Turns out that since Glissa left a whole bunch of elves disappeared, most of them vanishing around the creation of the new sun. Also, Glissa’s sister Lyese is still alive, but thinks Glissa is responsible for their parents deaths. So Glissa is put on trial. She tells the assembled people about her adventures and most seem to believe her. Lyese doesn’t though and attacks her. In the scuffle the two of them and Slobad are separated from the assembly. Then aerophins attack.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

The Darksteel Eye

Writer - Jess Lebow
Cover artist - Carl Critchlow
First printing - December 2003

We again start with Memnarch, who has clearly gone insane since the last timewe met him. He thinks Karn is speaking to him, is completely addicted to serum, and for some reason he is turning into flesh. He sends his metal minion Malil after Glissa. Throughout the book we get chapters from Memnarch’s point of view in which he is ranting against an imaginary Karn. Through these rants we learn about the history of Mirrodin and most importantly about Memnarch’s plan: since Karn ascended when he and Urza were destroyed in the Legacy blast (back in Apocalypse), Memnarch reckons that if he and Glissa (who has an unflared spark) are destroyed by the creation of Mirrodin’s 5th sun he will turn into a planeswalker as well… sounds like a foolproof plan to me! Anyway, he has built his fortress Panopticon in the path the final sun will take when it is born, so now all he needs is to make sure Glissa is with him at the right time.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The Moons of Mirrodin

Writer - Will McDermott
Cover artist - Brom
First printing - September 2003

In the prologue Memnarch wanders around Argentum after Karn left him there as the new warden of the plane. He decides the whole thing is too mathematically perfect. Fascinated by the blinkmoths, which are the one thing Karn didn't create but imported from another plane, he decides to bring more lifeforms over. Before he can get to that he notices a weird black smudge which he wipes away, unknowingly infecting himself with a mysterious oil. He immediately decides to rename the world Mirrodin, after himself.

Chapter one starts an unknown amount of time later. We meet Glissa, an elf warrior who doesn't trust the rebuking ceremony in which the trolls of the Tangle let the elves forget painful memories. Elves get "flares" of these suppressed memories, but Glissa's are special: she gets flares in which she remembers a different world, one where all life isn't infused with metal.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

War of the Spark: Ravnica - the online stories

Writer - Greg Weisman
Released - May-June 2019

Eh... have you read my summary of the War of the Spark novel? This is just the same story again, but entirely from Rat's perspective and with some bits summarized. There is a little expansion here and there, like a scene between her and Hekara in the first part, and we get to see a bit more of Kaya convincing the Orzhov to join the battle, but otherwise it's just the same story we've already covered.

This might sound weird, but while this is just the exact same story as War of the Spark, I also think it is a million times worse.

While reading the novel I did not feel the vitriol some other people felt, perhaps because I thought it was just overambitious, which made me accept a few flaws. It was trying to do far too much in too few pages, but the constant action and cool individual scenes kept me entertained while reading it.

Then I heard there is going to be an online story as well, and I thought "Adding a few extra chapters to War of Spark is a great idea! That'll give them more space to develop the bits that were rushed through!"... and then I read it and it is just a summary of what I already read...

War of the Spark: Ravnica

Writer - Greg Weisman
Cover art - Magali Villeneuve
Released - April 2019

This book has a... high paced plot, so... *deep breath*

In the prologue we see Ugin talking to the spirit of Niv-Mizzet, who is inside the Firemind Vessel and was dropped off in the Meditation Realm by Sarkhan Vol. The two dragons talk in veiled terms about their plan to take down Nicol Bolas.

And no, you didn't miss anything, Niv-Mizzet is already dead, having been killed while trying to stop Bolas, before the book starts. This book skips over some very important plot points that are only now being covered in The Gathering Storm. We'll talk more about that below.

On Ravnica the Interplanar Beacon is switched on to lure as many planeswalkers as possible to the plane to fight Bolas. Among the first to turn up are Teyo Varda, directly after his ascension, and the Gatewatch and their allies, who were having cocoa at Pia Nalaar's place while Gideon went back to Dominaria to see why Liliana didn't follow them at the end of Dominaria.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Children of the Nameless

Writer - Brandon Sanderson
Cover art - Chris Rahn
Released - 12 December 2018

As requested I'll do a summary here, but I really want to urge you to go and read the whole thing here. It is a mystery story, and I don't want to spoil the main plot for the people still planning to read it. Also, it's free, so why miss it?

The story starts rather dark, with a girl named Tacenda being the sole survivor of an attack on her Innistradi village. She and her twin Willia were born with a strange condition: she can only see at night, her sister only during the day. In exchange for this strange curse the girls have powers: Willia is a fantastic warrior, and Tacenda can sing the Song of Warding which can protect against all the nasty creepies of Innistrad. The song failed to work though when mysterious spirits known as Whisperers attacked the village during the day, leaving Tacenda fairly helpless. Yet she survives and blames the Man of the Manor, the local aristocrat, for the attacks, as he was previously seen killing the twins' parents while they were making an offering to the Bog, a magical spot worshiped by the villagers.

Yeah, this story is fairly complex, so the summary is going to be veeeeeery info-dump-y.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Monsters of Magic

The Monsters of Magic
Editor - J. Robert King
Cover art - Ron Spears
First printing - August 2003

This is the final installment of the anthology series, and it is pretty much like all the others. By now the creators have figured out that it's a good idea to tie all the stories into either the cards themselves or to the rest of continuity, so there are no completely random stories anymore, but the quality is still very variable. The monsters featured range from very famous Magic creatures (LhurgoyfAtogMorphling) to some also-rans (Vampiric DragonPhantom Monster), but curiously the four on the cover weren't included for some reason, even though they are pretty iconic Magic monsters! (Okay, Two-Headed Dragon isn't quite in the same league as Sliver QueenHypnotic Specter and Masticore, but it was played as a finisher back in the day!)

The stories are divided up into three parts: Ancient Monsters, Modern Monsters and Otherworldly Monsters, with four stories each. This is a bit less useful than the more specific time periods from The Secrets of Magic, as the division between "Ancient" and "Modern" is actually just "Pre-Invasion" or "Post-Invasion" and everything in the Otherworldly section fits in the "Pre-Invasion" bit as well. We'll have to see if the stories themselves guide us to a clearer placement.