Jan 4, 2011

[Books] Prophecy (Magic: the Gathering Masquerade Cycle - Book 3)

Prophecy (Magic the Gathering - Masquerade Cycle Book 3)I found it surprising that I had forgotten to post my review for this book immediately after I read it. Then again, I suppose it says something about the book and how much I enjoyed it - or didn't in this case. Poor thing.

When you declare books to be part of a single trilogy (or in this case Magic: the Gathering card expansion sets), you kind of expect the stories to be well connected. In terms of the Masquerade cycle, we have three separate stories that I suppose are happening at more or less the same time. The first book involved the crew of the Weatherlight and took place in the realm of Mercadia. The second was a story of Ertai and Crovax in Rath. And this third was a story of the Keldon invasion of Jamuraa back in Dominaria involving Barrin and Ertai.

What ties these three stories together? I have no idea. All we know is that they need to play a role in the next story arc.

Prophecy is the last book in the Masquerade Cycle of novels (and at the same time MTG card expansions). It was written by Vance Moore.

Northwest JamuraaImage via WikipediaThe book starts with war in Jamuraa. A large segment of the Keldon nation have decided to invade the lands of Jamuraa in order to harvest a material they call Heroes' Blood. Teferi, now a planeswalker, has returned to lead the defense of his homeland given the Jamuraans no longer have a standing army of their own. Instead they rely on artifacts to do all their fighting and these constructs aren't doing too well against the Keldon war host.

Urza sends Barrin to investigate the severity of the war and to determine what kind of aid may need to be dispatched. Barrin then gets fully involved in the conflict and does his part in fighting the Keldon forces. Meanwhile, we're given glimpses of life with the Keldon army from the perspective of a Jamuraan named Haddad, who was taken as a slave by the Keldon artificer Latulla. As the leader of the invasion, Latulla is in charge of also trying to use the Kipamu League's war machines against them with the aid of her slave.

The book largely stands alone and is only connected to past stories in name. Sure, it involves a lot of the characters that were made popular during the previous Artifacts Cycle of books but that's about it. This doesn't necessarily work to the detriment of the book, although it does mean you need to invest a bit more of yourself initially in order to get into the story.

I'm not sure if Haddad was a useful character as a reader. I know he was just meant to be a plot device to show us the Keldon side of things but would we have had a better time if we had just been given access to them directly? Latulla does make for a rather fascinating character and I would have rather read more about her instead of following the slaves around.

Teferi was largely absent from most of the story since the writer opted to stick with Barrin more. I'm not sure if this was a good or a bad thing either since Barrin is still pretty impressive as a wizard at least. Then his wife Rayne gets involved in the conflict later on, thus further complicating matters. They do make for an interesting team and they get a lot done in the story - in that sense I just wish Teferi did a bit more. Maybe it was an attempt on the part of the writer to demonstrate how detached planeswalkers can be, but this was still a tad silly. The fact that a full planeswalker couldn't turn aside the attacks of what are essentially creatures without a planeswalker controlling them (in an MTG sense) just felt weird to me.

At the end I was just kind of meh about the whole thing. I guess the writer only really had one goal in mind - and he accomplished that. Beyond that, I don't know what he was able to do in terms of contributing to the overall MTG universe.

Prophecy is a decent book on its own despite it's lack of connection to other books. It gets 3 robotic ants and mantises out of a possible 5.
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