I think this new Tarkir story by Kate Elliott is pretty great. Well-written, revisiting a very interesting and under-used setting, and providing tons of very cool backstory development. It's a little baggy and over-long in places, probably as a result of word-count targets, but I like it a lot.
So what are everyone's final thoughts on the Bolas origin story, and of the writer? what did you like about her style and the story itself? what didn't you like? Would you like to have her write another series of MTG stories?
I thought it was really good. Great evocation of both Tarkir and the ancient era of the Elder Dragons (Tarkir especially). The use of the parallel relationships between the Temur twins and Nicol/Ugin is a much more interesting literary structure than I've come to expect from Magic story. Kate Elliott has a fabulous command of tone and characterization, and her writing style fits the material very well.
There are still some remaining structural problems with the story chapters, mostly due to their fundamental format. I think that each chapter is generally a bit too long, and it often seems like each one is required to have an action scene whether it makes sense or not. A higher number of shorter chapters would be easier to write, I think, and they should allow authors more leeway to explore varied dramatic content (IMHO the best parts of the Dominaria story were the side-character chapters that weren't obligated to advance the main plot).
Overall, though, it's a huge step in the right direction, and I would me more than happy to have lots of future stories in this mold.
While I definitely think this set of stories wasn't as good as Kate Elliott's Bolas story, I still think Wizards is on the right track. Despite agreeing with the legitimate criticism of some of the florid overindulgence of the prose style, I'm still happy to read stories with a singular, identifiable authorial voice. It's certainly better than the pre-Dominaria "story team" pieces, in which several writers with obviously varying capabilities were patching together stories with no evident editing passes.
There are still structural problems:
Each chapter is still too long, keeping writers from being able to construct a focused narrative direction, while also discouraging one-off chapters that aren't obligated to advance the primary plot (we need more secondary character pieces like the Slimefoot story from Dominaria).
Action scenes still often seem perfunctory and artificial, as though they were inserted according to an an outline rather than arising naturally from dramatic need.
I think that the writers might need additional guidance as to tone and character portrayal, beyond whatever plot notes they receive. I suspect, for example, that Cassandra Khaw's depiction of Vivien's personality might have been a bit "off model" from what Wizards actually wants Vivien to be like. Jace, similarly, seems to vary broadly in his characterization depending on who is writing him.
But really, I don't want to dwell on criticism. I think the approach of hiring outside writers is paying of very well, and I'm enjoying the stories more right now than I have in a long time. Now, we get to see how the weekly story sections will interact with the upcoming novel (Greg Wiesman is a fantastic choice!). I'm looking forward to the future.
I am very enthusiastic about visiting worlds in the stories that card sets are not currently on. This means I don't need to hold out for a standard-legal visit to Theros (although I want one desperately), Kamigawa or Lorwyn to get a glimpse of these worlds and how the stories are shaping up there. It's also a great opportunity to check in with characters such as Kiora. I hope we see more of Theros soon, and we return all the same. But until then, I'll take a glimpse or two of the world.
Ladies, germs, I'm Terrorking. I don't know what's happened with this site and why that account is off-limits to me, but I'll be doing a review of the War of the Spark novel and dropping it into my sig.
You can expect the review to be pretty biting since there are a myriad of problems with mtg's storytelling dating all the way back to Battle for Zendikar. This'll be a pretty good summation of everything I have said about this story for the past 3-4 years.
Poor, poor Gideon. He was such a good character in The Purifying Fire. They didn't even have the guts to give the story a definitive ending.