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

This week we’re going to learn all about the Dragons of Dominaria including old and young, large and small, black, white, red, blue, and green. We’ll read about good dragons and evil dragons who both help and hinder civilization. As usual with these anthologies some of the stories are enjoyable but most of them are pretty unexciting. Will one of them be completely unreadable? Let’s find out!

The Dragons of Magic
edited by J. Robert King

Once again, instead of giving an overview of this anthology I’ll give you a brief synopsis of each short story followed by my overall review of the collection as a whole.

Dragon Lord by Vance Moore

Our collection starts with an elder white dragon who works in concert with an ancient order to protect the people who live on his lands. The dragon, Eagyn, has decided that it’s better to work with the humans and foster their civilization rather than eat them all. When barbarian tribes try to invade, Eagyn will be called upon once more to defend his homeland and the people within it.

Dragon of Jamuraa by A.L. Lassieur

We quickly shift gears to a powerful mage named Majaliwa who Jamuraa who has had dreams of a dragon all his life and plans to finally summon the being into existence. He does so, summoning the powerful dragon into battle, but soon Majaliwa learns that he has gotten much, much more than he bargained for. This story is entertaining, but unfortunately predictable and somewhat confusing at times.

Hero of the People by Jess Lebow

Jess Lebow delivers a short story full of tropes and common themes beginning with a village who offers up a lottery-like tribute sacrifice to their dragon lords every 30 days and continuing with a city of dragons which is run by enslaved human sacrifices. The dragons put on impressive displays of power while torturing humans but you can probably guess where this one is going.

Dragon’s Paw by Edward Blome

Our next story features Urza Planeswalker and Barrin, Mage Master of Tolaria. Urza is trying to build a new dragon engine and decides to summon a dragon made of pure mana that is a reflection of a dragon Urza knew, and fought with, in the past. The simulacrum of a dragon convinces Urza to let him conduct “field experiments” so Urza can study a dragon in action. This of course leads to a somewhat humorous tale of Urza unleashing a dragon on the countryside in the name of science.

Of Protectors & Pride by Steven E. Schend

We get back-to-back stories featuring Urza Planeswalker with this one. In it, Urza sends a student to the lair of a powerful blue dragon to steal her unborn child still in the egg. Urza plans to use the egg to power his Metathran experiments to create powerful beings using the eugenics matrix of the Thran. Obviously the dragon doesn’t take kindly to having her egg stolen and she seeks out both the student and Urza for conflict. Unfortunately Urza never learns his lessons.

Familiar by Denise R. Graham

Ah, the traditional coming-of-age story of a young dragon who was separated from his family at birth, raised by a druid, stolen by a dark wizard, defeated his oppressor, and then finally returned to his own dragon-kind for mating season in an incredibly awkward ending. It’s basically the feel-good teen-summer movie for dragons.

Deathwings by Paul B. Thompson

This is easily the most Vorthos-filled story but in a very interesting way. A ship’s barber/physician finds himself stranded on an island. When he meets the inhabitants it turns out that they’re descendants of a far away land called Ithra-nan which was overthrown by a powerful sorcerer-prince named Ya-magoth. It becomes clear that these are descendants of the Thran when they possess very interesting power-stone technology. Unfortunately for our hero, this island is attacked every 150 years by mating dragons and he’s found himself caught in the fray.

The Fog by Tim Ryan

We finally get to the “skip this story” part of our review. A ship’s captain ends up having to trick some blue dragons on an otherwise deserted treasure island into not killing him. It isn’t very exciting or interesting.

Dreamwings by Tom Dupree

More unfortunate is that this book has two “skip this story” sections, but at least they’re back-to-back. The ending for this story was crazy confusing and I read it twice so that you don’t ever have to.

The Blood of a Dragon by Edo van Belkom

It seems like the stories in this book went downhill pretty quickly. In “The Blood of a Dragon” our main character is a lich who is trying to invade a neighboring forest that’s protected by an ancient green dragon. The lich creates a few zombie dragons to do his bidding but things don’t go as planned.

Because of a Twig by Brian M. Thomsen

Our triumvirate of idiots with a Serpent Generator returns when said group tries to use their limitless supply of serpents to overrun an elven city. Their own stupidity gets in their way and comedy ensues in what is surprisingly the only comic relief in this entire collection. It’s not as good as last week’s story featuring a Lord of the Pit, but it has its moments.

Keldon Staredown by Scott McGough

Last and almost least is the continuing tale of Astor the Keldon Warlord who decides to take on an ancient blue dragon. The dragon proves to be quite the match for a Keldon Warlord because the dragon figured out quickly that if you kill all the other creatures the warlord isn’t so powerful. To be fair, I enjoy the flavor of Keldon Warlords but I think I’m getting a bit bored of the repetitiveness of Keldon stories.

Overall Rating: 2.5 — Overall I think this book falls pretty flat. A few good short stories don’t make up for the complete lack of entertainment or vorthos lore in over half the book. If you pick this one up, definitely read the first five stories, but then maybe just read a couple more before moving on with your life. If you’re going to read the whole book, I recommend reading it backwards, since the best stories are in the front-half.

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

Unfortunately it seems that this book has vanished from the pages of Amazon-dot-com so I don’t have a pretty picture of the cover or a link for you to acquire this collection. Anyways, The Secrets of Magic is the final Anthology-series book we’ll be reading before we get back into the main Magic storyline in two weeks with The Shattered Alliance.

In The Secrets of Magic we’ll read ten more short stories ranging from the time of the Ice Age to the time after the Invasion. Once we’ve learned all we can about the world of Dominaria, it will be time to return to the events leading up to the epic Invasion story.

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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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