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

It turns out that it’s appropriate that we took a week off since reading The Gathering Dark, because Jeff Grubb decided to fast-forward the story by 2,500 years when we begin The Eternal Ice. Our hero, Jodah, awakens in the vaults of the necromancer Lim-Dul only to discover that he’s been dead for some time and Lim-Dul has brought him back to life to perform research. Jodah tries to fight, but when threatened with no longer existing, again, even though he can’t remember dying, he acquiesces to the necromancer’s demands. Lim-Dul, for his part, wants two things from Jodah: research into the phenomenon of a “rogue plane” that will be passing near Dominaria and research into the means to kill a Planeswalker…

The Eternal Ice
by Jeff Grubb

It turns out Lim-Dul is actually being manipulated by the planeswalker Leshrac, who if you know your Vorthos lore, you should be very familiar with the name from the time of the Mending and the Planeswalker Wars. But I digress, as Leshrac and Lim-Dul are one of the silver linings of The Eternal Ice, which is to say there aren’t many.

The silver lining is the presence of many well-known characters such as Jaya Ballard, Lovisa Coldeyes, Marton Stromgald, and General Varchild to name a few. But the hero at the center of our story is in fact Jodah who is not undead but merely confused.

Wait, Jodah is 2,500 years old? Yes. With a bit of hand waving, Jeff Grubb tells us that a fountain that Jodah drank from in a weird scene in The Gathering Dark was actually the Fountain of Youth. Go figure?

Let’s fast-forward through the boring parts and get to the Michael Bay film that this book is so desperately trying to be. Jodah gets himself imprisoned by Lim-Dul, Jaya Ballard goes to save him, Freyalise the Planeswalker restores his Sanity. With me so far? Jodah and Jaya travel to Kjeldor to rally King Darien and the Balduvian Hordes to ally against Lim-Dul before it’s too late. They finally come to terms after an attempt to assassinate the King is foiled by Jodah and Jaya.

Still with me? The “war” consists of about a month or two of skirmishes between Lovisa Coldeyes’s barbarians and the undead hordes while General Varchild trains an army in Kjeldor. The “war” climaxes with a single massive battle in which a whole lot of people die, a whole lot of undead die again, Jodah confronts Lim-Dul, Lim-Dul turns out to be possessed by the mind of Jodah’s former teacher Maisril (so it turns out both books have the same villain) and then Leshrac shows up to spirit Lim-Dul/Maisril away to the rogue plane before Jodah can finish him off.

But wait, there’s more! After the battle Freyalise returns and summons Jodah and Jaya to Fyndhorn where she casts the WORLD SPELL that puts an end to the Ice Age by recreating the Sylex that Urza had used but adding Jodah’s mirror to the mix to remind Dominaria of what it used to be. Freyalise is happy because the Ice Age will end and with it the barrier that cut off Dominaria from the rest of the multiverse. Jodah is furious because flipping the world’s climate so suddenly will likely flood half the continents and kill many people.

Oh snap, it’s a book about global warming!

Overall Rating: 3.0 — Don’t get me wrong, this book is enjoyable to read. The characters are all well written. The story isn’t horrible. The dialogue is tolerable. But there are a few problems that keep this at a 3.0 out of 5.0 rating. First off, what’s the point of Lim-Dul being Maisril? It’s relevant for about three pages of the book.

Secondly, there’s no character development whatsoever. Jodah supposedly goes from being a crotchety old archmage to being a friendly jovial fellow but the problem is there’s no book where Jodah is a mean person so this character development is completely invisible to the reader. Similar to some of the Urza’s Saga books, this was a Michael Bay film in written form.

Finally, there’s the small fact of the cultural appropriation of Scandinavian peoples in order to create the world of the Ice Age. There are a lot of blondes and redheads. Almost everyone’s name ends in -son or -dotter. A lot of it is linguistic, but it was a bit annoying. I hope when we get an actual Scandinavian-inspired plane they do a better job.

Anyways, Jodah is Jodah which is to say he’s smarter than everyone, more powerful than everyone, and basically kicks everyone’s ass up and down the book until he gets his way. He even closes it up with telling off the planeswalker Freyalise and doing a mic drop before she bounces away from Dominaria for a few centuries.

What I’m really trying to say is, if you like Jaya Ballard, read this book.

Next Week’s Book—The Purifying Fire by Laura Resnick

In honor of Jaya Ballard, we’re going to take another week off before reading The Shattered Alliance and instead we’re going to read The Purifying Fire which was one of the first “post-mending” planeswalker novels and features our modern version of Jaya Ballard in Chandra Nalaar. Stay tuned!

Full Disclosure: The images of books in this review will take you to Amazon.com where you can purchase these books (and many more items, so I’m told). If you do so, Hipsters of the Coast will receive a small percentage of your money which will be used to ensure columns like this and many others can continue to exist. Please note that if you click the link then anything you purchase from Amazon in the next 24 hours (even if it isn’t this book) will provide us with a small percentage, so if you want to help support Hipsters of the Coast and need to buy a new vacuum cleaner then click away!

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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