Welcome to our 2016 52 in 52 series. This year I will be reading 52 Magic: the Gathering novels spanning two decades of Vorthos lore. Each week I’ll share my review of the book along with a synopsis for those of you who are just interested in the core of the story.

52 in 52

Bloodlines concludes the novelization of Urza’s Saga, Urza’s Legacy, and Urza’s Destiny. In the first novel we have a touching coming-of-age story where Urza learns what it means to be an immortal planeswalker but also how to maintain his humanity thanks to the sacrifice of Xantcha. In the second novel we were treated to a Michael Bay-esque action thriller on the time-ravaged island of Tolaria as Urza battles his greatest foes. In Bloodlines we get… well it gets a bit convoluted.

by Loren L. Coleman

This book suffers immensely from trying to combine far too many stories into one novel. Bloodlines bridges the story of the Tolarian Academy with the Weatherlight Saga. The stories at the academy revolve around Urza, Jhoira, Teferi, Barrin, and Karn. The core story is of course the eugenics project of Urza by which he is trying to breed the perfect hero to protect Dominaria and lead the fight against Phyrexia.

Urza Planeswalker spends several centuries manipulating marriages across Dominaria in an effort to breed the perfect human to fight the Phyrexians. He encounters two major setbacks. First, he finds that trying to use fast-time regions of Tolaria to accelerate the project results in deformities. Second, he tries using Phyrexian material to correct the deformities which leads to Phyrexian sleeper agents discovering what’s going on. Phyrexians begin kidnapping entire villages of Urza’s families to find out more.

This is a fascinating story and would once again pit Urza against his eternal enemies. Unfortunately we have a lot of side stories to get through first. Let’s run through them all.

Karn – The Silver Golem is lonely and sad and to cure his depression, Urza decides to make him forget everything after 20 years. This creates some weird situations where Karn has no clue who people are that he’s known for most of his life. He spends every night trying to hold onto his memories of Jhoira. Urza sends him to Benalia where he serves the Capashen clan in exchange for their participation (unknowingly) in the Bloodlines project.

Rayne – The master artificer is brought to Tolaria by Urza and quickly works up the ranks and becomes a Chancellor at the academy. Her work to help Urza is integral to the Bloodlines project but she falls in love with and marries Barrin, the master mage. Towards the end of the novel, Barrin discovers that Rayne is a product of Urza’s Bloodlines from outside of Tolaria and that Urza has orchestrated their marriage. Barrin doesn’t tell this to Rayne and at the end of the novel Rayne is pregnant.

Rofellos – With Multani constantly away from Yavimaya, Rofellos travels there as ambassador from Llanowar. Yavimaya quickly turns Rofellos into its new shared-mind mouthpiece and Rofellos’s lust for war turns Yavimaya into a very, very dangerous place. There are two sub-plots with Rofellos. The first is the conflict between Yavimaya and Rofellos and then Rofellos and Multania. The second is Yavimaya’s rapid evolution to battle Phyrexians.

Gatha – Urza did not have the original idea to incorporate Phyrexian genetics into the Bloodlines project. That honor goes to Barrin’s prized student, Gatha. Eventually Gatha leaves Tolaria to further his somewhat unethical experimentation and he lands in Keld. He spends a couple centuries manipulating the Keldon Warlords into becoming part-Phyrexian leading to one supreme warlord taking over all of Keld before Phyrexians, attracted to their own scent in the Keldons, start to attack and put an end to the entire warband. Gatha commits suicide rather than let his knowledge fall into Phyrexian hands but he also sends his research to Urza.

Angels – There is a refugee camp in Benalia which is home to the survivors of Serra’s realm. They stay neutral in all things Dominarian but have a soft spot for Karn who they are indebted to for life, even though Karn can’t recall why. The Angels train some of the Benalians for Urza and eventually come to the aid of the Capashen clan against the Phyrexian invaders.

Rath – Phyrexia has a plan to put an end to Dominaria and it involves the artificial plane of Rath. This world is covered in a material called flowstone and the master of this material can recreate a part of the world to overlay part of Dominaria. Yawgmoth’s plan is to eventually overlay all of Rath onto Dominaria. Spoiler alert: this plan is called the Invasion and is covered in that novel along with Planeshift. Throughout Bloodlines we have the side story of Rath’s steward, Davvol, and his constant struggles to improve his own eugenics program with Phyrexian Negators while trying to stay one step ahead of the Phyrexian demon Croag.

The Capashen Bloodline – The novel ends with the culmination of the Bloodlines project: Gerrard Capashen being whisked away to safety by the silver golem Karn. Glimpses of the generations of ancestors leading to Gerrard are interspersed in the book.

Overall Rating: 2.0 — I can’t go into any depth on any of these storylines because there are just too many of them. The basic gist of things is that both Urza and Phyrexia spent a few centuries perfecting the weapons they plan on using against each other in the final war. This is kind of a silly premise because both entities are already insanely powerful. This is why we had the mending and don’t have immortal walkers anymore. The stories are too repetitive. This book was basically Gohan and Cell charging up their super powers for a week’s worth of my childhood afternoons watching Toonami.

Next Week’s Book—The Colors of Magic by Jess Lebow

For the next month we’re taking a break from the chronicles of Urza Planeswalker. We’ll begin by returning to the annual anthologies series with The Colors of Magic, edited by Jess Lebow. This collection features ten stories, two for each color, and highlights the ruins of Dominaria in the wake of The Brothers War.

Now that we’ve seen the full extent of Urza’s power let’s get a better look at the wreckage he leaves in his wake.

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52 in 52 is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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