Dec 21, 2010

[Books] Apocalypse (Magic: the Gathering Invasion Cycle - Book 3)

Apocalypse (Magic: the Gathering Invasion Cycle - Book 3)Ending a long-running story arc is no laughing matter. What more a multi-title epic tale that spans not just books written by many authors but also a game that involves many card sets designed by a whole host of game developers and card designers and as brought to life by various artists and other creative people. Yeah, that can be pretty intimidating and it's a wonder people are able to live up to such daunting challenges.

Such massive stories are horribly unwieldy given the number of people involved. You can't just expect a group of people in such different environments to come up with a stellar masterpiece. You're lucky to end up with a story that doesn't suffer for glaring continuity problems or something like that. Thus you have to give the folks over at Wizards of the Coast a heck of a lot of credit for staying the course of the years when they developed this particular story. I don't care if the concept wasn't an overwhelming success with the fans. At the very least they managed to finish what they started despite what I can only imagine were a heck of a lot of challenges and fears that they had to deal with along the way.

And the end result wasn't that bad at all.

Apocalyse is the last book in the Invasion Cycle of Magic: the Gathering novels. It chronicles the very end of the long-running Weatherlight saga and brings to a close the tale of Gerrard Capashen and the brave crew of the skyship Weatherlight. It was written by J.Robert King.

The Dominarian globe, featuring the view from ...Image via WikipediaWhen we last left our heroes, things weren't too heroic. Gerrard and Urza had agreed to join Yawgmoth and now dueled one another to the death for their respective boons. Gerrard desired the return of his beloved Hanna. Urza only wanted to learn the full possibilities of Phyrexian artifice by Yawgmoth's side. At the same time, Urza's remaining Titans - planeswalkers from Dominaria - do their best to destroy the nine spheres of Phyrexia by detonating the bombs that they had laid out one-by-one since the central trigger had been destroyed.

Meanwhile in Dominaria, Karn has gained access to his lost memories of old and has somehow determined the solution to their problems - the final evolution of Weatherlight into her final form. But there isn't much time for Weatherlight to repair herself - even now the hordes of Phyrexia pour out of the volcano that contains the Stronghold of Rath. Thus the remaining coalition forces must do their best to fight off the dark creatures while Karn guides the Weatherlight to her full potential - the fulfillment of the Legacy that Urza had designed those many, many, many years ago.

Admittedly, I've had a lot of problems with the three-phase plans of Phyrexia to take Dominaria. First they wanted to invade via different portals that the Coalition Forces fought to destroy. Then they overlaid the plane of Rath with Dominaria anyway, thus transporting all the Phyrexian forces to the planet without the need for portals instantly. Again the Coalition did their best to fight back. And while they were still trying to maintain a foothold on their own planet, Yawgmoth's final plan was to come over himself anyway - pitting the powers of a god against all of these puny mortals.

But once you read it, I suppose it sort of makes sense. Yawgmoth wasn't trying to be efficient. He wanted to be thorough and he wanted to enjoy this. He wanted revenge for the wrongs against him - at least the ones in his head. And thus plan was indeed one of the better ways to achieve that particular goal and not just the domination of this planet.

The turning of Gerrard and Urza was an interesting point for sure, although the battle dragged on for a bit too long, in my opinion. They spent a better part of half the book fighting one another to limited gain in the long run. I don't mean that the fight should have ended sooner. It's just that the narrative wasn't very productive so we might have been better off spending more time following the other story arcs like the rest of what was happening with the armies of Dominaria or even the battles of the remaining Titans as they destroyed the spheres of Phyrexia.

At the heart of this story is not just the ending of the invasion and how the crew of the Weatherlight and the rest of Dominaria fight off a dark god of death. The true heart is the final fulfillment of the Legacy in what is ultimately the big reveal of the whole saga. Those artifacts were at the heart of this tale and the very reason all these elements came into place. We were promised a god weapon of sorts that would rid the multiverse of Yawgmoth once and for all. And to be fair, I think we did get one. The explanation for how the diverse parts had come together actually made sense to me and in the end the story did provide a rather significant sense of fulfillment. The Legacy did come together in the end, it worked, and it did its job. The cost of lives was pretty high, but it all worked out in the end.

Apocalyse is certainly a comforting clearing at the end of a very long and arduous journey down a long and confusing path. It still gets 4 lousy ways for villains like Ertai to die out of a possible 5.
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