@OathboundOne: It is true that the Planeswalker antagonist in Ikoria does not have to be one of the known Planeswalkers from War of the Spark, but to have a mysterious antagonist and then not reveal him seems strange. Also, Oko and Garruk both sat out of the War of the Spark (I think that was clarified in the opening chapter/prologue), so Oko is out as an option (though otherwise, I'd say he could have been an interesting choice).
@5colors: I think the trend of a Spark flaring in each set provides us with a potentially recurring character to link to each plane. I guess it does also provide some characters who weren't connected to the War of the Spark, but I think it's more of an expected pattern to connect the players to the planes--and continually introduce new characters who may have staying power (sales-wise).
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Apr 12, 2020I finished reading the other day. It's been quite some time since I posted, but here are my thoughts for what they're worth. Where I note spoilers, I do discuss various aspects of the novel from beginning to end (not necessarily in that order).Posted in: Magic Storyline
Overall Reaction (no spoilers)
Overall, the story was fine. I enjoyed the writing. Pacing-wise, I was impressed with the beginning introduction and development of characters and relationships, but I then felt the pace really picked up after Chapter 2 or so. New characters seemed to come and go pretty quickly after the opening, so I felt the pacing was inconsistent. As an action-adventure story, it was fine; as a monster story, I found it lacking. There were plenty of monsters, but I had assumed we'd see some more classic monster clashes or tropes. This leads me to the final piece that I felt was lacking: the word "mana" did not show up once. There was nothing Magic: the Gathering about this story; it could have been set in any fantasy universe. I had expected some type of use of Magic's iconic system outside of references to Planeswalkers/Sparks.
Setting Reaction (spoilers)
Ikoria was bland. There were mysterious crystals that were somehow connected to monsters and that sprung up from the ground. The human strongholds were weakly established outside of Drannith. Vivien smartly noted how no two monsters are the same, which led me to believe that we'd learn something of how the monsters spawned, but there was no further development on this front. I didn't feel the adventurous world of Zendikar, the dangerous and awe of giant beasts from Tarkir, or the immensity of the dinosaurs from Ixalan. I suspect writing in a shared world is not easy; who knows how much the story changed from when Wexler started, or which art pieces he had to work with. The necessary lack of details were there so the story would not conflict with the card art or flavor text, but that also led to a soulless world. I think Ikoria missed the mark on worldbuilding.
Character Reaction (spoilers)
I appreciated the characters here. The pacing of the story caused Lukka's shift to be more sudden and less explored than I'd like. However, I did not anticipate him to go rogue, so that development was a good surprise. I liked the tension between Lukka and Jirina. Their morning together early on reminded me of Garth and Norreen's scene in the bath in Arena; Magic stories do not often show affection or intimate moments--not that it was as intimate as Garth and Norreen's suggestive scene, as I recall it. As the story continued, the characters seemed more and more forgettable. The deaths of Lukka's companions early on shocked me, as I felt their relationships were being fleshed out really well given the short word count. However, every other character afterward showed up for a purpose and we'd move on.
I did not read all of Vivien's trip to Ixalan. I only really know her from her brief appearances in War of the Spark and Forsaken. I liked her development on finding/protecting/knowing "home." She sided with the monsters a bit, but she was pretty vanilla, I thought.
Plot Reaction (spoilers)
The only plot reaction I'm really intrigued in, was: Who was the other Planeswalker? I was surprised to learn there was an interloper, especially with only Lukka, Vivien, and Narset spoiled as cards, so I was so excited to learn the identity. The mind contact and visions made me think of Ashiok, but we just saw them, and Vivien used a male pronoun. This does not seem the work of Tezzeret. Vivien mentions she met this Planeswalker briefly on Ravnica, so that also discounts Oko. Tibalt doesn't seem to have an interest in monsters or offering wishes. I had assumed the mysterious Planeswalker was Ob Nixilis: his own background in wanting power and destruction seems to fit, but his mutations of monsters does not seem to be an approach he would take. I am very disappointed not to learn the identity of this antagonist.
Overall, the book was worth a quick read and $4.00. I like that we're seeing a few separate stories that allow us to hover on a few different Planeswalkers after War, but the novella doesn't make me feel the need to revisit this plane any time soon.
Aug 2, 2019It's exciting to see throwback characters. K'rrik was trapped in a time bubble on Tolaria in Time Streams, the same novel where Jhoira was introduced and where Teferi ascended (though he didn't know it at the time). I love K'rrik's use of Phyrexian mana; the neat things about the Commander legends is they get to play with various abilities that were not available when their characters were written.Posted in: The Rumor Mill
Jul 29, 2019Two thoughts on the ebook venture:Posted in: The Rumor Mill
- I was intrigued with Kate Elliott's interview that she was given the world guide and some art, but did not see many cards when writing. Thus, she was able to craft the story and then had to run some choices by Creative. This sounds like a return to post-Apocalypse (Phyrexian Invasion) or Alara storytelling where the story is overlayed on the world of the cards.
- I also get a Mirrodin or Llorwyn vibe (not due to the setting specifically) as we're taking a turn from the major story arc with a side-story.
Jun 17, 2019Definitely octopuses, as the root is Greek, so we add the -es. Latin changes -us to i (as alumnus to alumni). Octopodes is... acceptable, I think, but octopuses is so much fun (and grammatically correct).Posted in: The Rumor Mill
I do prefer 8/8 (or maybe 4/4) octopuses, and I also think this would have been a cool Octopus Wizard or Octopus Shaman, but it's still fun!
Jun 12, 2019If they keep her backstory on Regatha, would we get a Gideon again for the Purifying Fire bits of her past? It seems counterproductive to kill him in WAR then reprint him, but if we get (at least) one 'walker per color, he'd make the more sense lore-wise. Jace in blue, Liliana in black and Chanra in green would maintain the usual suspects, and they each have direct impacts on Chandra.Posted in: Magic Storyline
May 13, 2019Bolas's lack of access to magic seems to more be linked with his loss of names or Ugin's role as a jailer, not due to his loss of a Spark. I think this is the most logical and simplest of answers. Whatever the terms of his imprisonment, Bolas does not have the ability to cast magic. Whether it is blocked while he is imprisoned or his ability to spellcast has been taken from him, I do believe it is separate from the loss of his Spark.Posted in: Magic Storyline
May 13, 2019Urza was around long enough to fall into traps (to add to AutumnTwilight, he also got trapped in a Yavimayan tree and got pummeled by hawk engines sent by K'rrick); he could reform and become immaterial and carry others through the Blind Eternities and a slew of other things. He fell into traps, but was powerful. Taysir, arguably, was the other most powerful Planeswalker, but he was never fully explored in post-revisionist material, and even Taysir fell to others (like having his head split open). However, these Planeswalkers had great powers that went beyond post-Mending Planeswalkers. They were not omnipotent like "gods," but their power level was pretty hard to match.Posted in: Magic Storyline
Mar 16, 2019Zazdor posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General DiscussionI'm intrigued by a Dack-Karn-Ob alliance. We've seen Planeswalkers team up even when at odds.Posted in: Magic Storyline
The Nine Titans were a bit messed up because Urza planned for betrayal, but it's an example. The Summit of the Null Moon at the end of the Ice Age is another--that also broke into internal battles (like Szat versus Freyalise). In the proposed Planeswalker War on Corondor, Sandruu and Taysir worked together (even after Taysir had banished him after a duel on Ulgrotha).
I know these examples are not quite the same, but we know Planeswalkers can align for various reasons. If Ob Nixilis will not want to lose his spark again, and the other Planeswalkers may use that to their advantage against Bolas. They can deal with Ob afterwards. I think it's quite similar to Szat's inclusion in the Summit of the Null Moon and the Nine Titans: we know he's bad, but we need him.
Jan 5, 2019I am intrigued with the Lightning Bug Beacon as an updated Mox Beacon (from the original Planeswalker War). I actually am excited for this story (any discrepancies or contradictions or oversights are just part of the story; you have to go along with it to enjoy it) due to its scope.Posted in: Magic Storyline
Aug 17, 2018Overall, this was an excellent addition to the Magic canon. I think the "Chronicle of Bolas" title was misplaced--it was more about Ugin. Indeed, as many have opined, we did not see the leviathan battle (which I do not think the story truly discounted) or Bolas's obtainment of the Gem of Becoming. I would not have minded these details in a story about Bolas.Posted in: Magic Storyline
That said, I loved the frame story with the Temur twins (to contrast with the Elder dragon twins). The human/mortal relationships were well-wrought, and the frame worked very well.
The question of what Bolas could or should have done did not bother me. Urza and the other oldwalkers were impressive, but they made plenty of mistakes. They walked when they did not have to, spoke aloud when they did not need to, and so on.
Aug 9, 2018Posted in: Magic Storyline
The Eldest Reborn seems to depict Bolas returning to Madara, through the Talon Gates, from the Meditation Realm during the events of the Time Spiral novel.
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