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

We finally made it to The Shattered Alliance, the third and final book of the Dark/Ice Age saga featuring Jodah, the Archmage Eternal, and his trusty sidekick Jaya Ballard, Task Mage. When we last left our heroes they had successfully defeated the necromancer Lim Dul, forged an alliance between King Darien of Kjeldor and Lovisa Coldeyes of Balduvia, and with the help of Freyalise ended the Ice Age that had encased Dominaria for thousands of years. We pick up the story twenty years later.

The Shattered Alliance
by Jeff Grubb

What really makes The Shattered Alliance stand out is that it’s a magic mystery novel. I said we’d pick up the story twenty years later but the book opens with a brief prologue. When Jodah defeated Lim Dul at the end of the last battle of the Ice Age, Leshrac appeared and whisked Lim Dul away to another plane. When he did so, he broke Lim Dul’s arm and tore off the hand that wore the ring that contained Mairsil’s soul, leaving it on the battlefield. Someone left after the battle wandering around found the hand, and the ring, and took it, giving Mairsil a new host.

Twenty years later Jaya Ballard brings the hand to her dear friend Jodah, the Archmage Eternal, at the School of the Unseen on Lat Nam. The two haven’t seen each other in twenty years but it’s obvious to both of them what they must do next. The hand is missing the finger that bore Mairsil’s soul, meaning it’s found a new host. Jaya and Jodah set out to figure out who.

What follows is an exciting trip revisiting major locations from the Ice Age as Jodah and Jaya try to narrow down suspects as to who could have become the new Lim Dul. They travel to Tresserhorn, Balduvia, Kjeld, Krov, back to Balduvia, and then to Soldev all in pursuit of Lim Dul. It turns out that at the end of the last battle with Lim Dul a number of powerful characters ended up dead but without a body accounted for.

Jodah and Jaya quickly learn that the political climate of the world has changed as much as the meteorological climate. In fact, this is as much a story about Jodah shutting himself in the School of the Unseen as the world changes around him as it is about finally defeating Lim Dul. Once again he grows fearful of his eternal life. The pain and suffering he endures as he moves on while his friends and loved ones die can only be remedied by continued use of his magical mirror. But the last person to use the mirror, Freyalise, left him a surprise within it, and he’s even more terrified of finding out what it is.

Overall Rating: 5.0 — I don’t give out this rating lightly and more importantly I don’t want to spoil any part of this mystery for you. Like most mystery novels, the truth should become apparent to the reader before the main characters. The reveal is obvious but well executed in The Shattered Alliance. What also makes the story worth reading is the fantastic cast of major characters including a special cameo by a certain Dominaria-born planeswalker at the very end of the tale.

I would highly recommend getting The Shattered Alliance except that it’s a very expensive book to acquire. The cheapest copy on Amazon’s marketplace is $35 including shipping. That’s not to say it isn’t worth it, but you might want to check eBay, or scour your local used bookstores, or try to find a PDF/ePub file.

Magic, mystery, and intrigue make for a great story and this one is no exception while also being very well written. There’s enough action to keep it exciting without making it feel like a Michael Bay film (which long-time readers of my reviews will know is a big problem with a lot of Magic books). There’s a great cast of characters including not one (Jaya), not two (Lovisa), not three (Archmage Gerda), but four (Princess Alexandrite of Kjeldor) very positive female characters. What’s not to like?

Next Week’s Book—Rath and Storm Edited by Peter Archer

Next week we finally begin a seven-week journey that will bring us to the end of Dominaria as we knew it. We start with Rath and Storm, a collection of short stories about the Weatherlight, and then we move on to Mercadian MasquesNemesis, and Prophecy before wrapping things up with InvasionPlaneshift, and Apocalypse. If you want to prepare, I recommend catching up on all of the Urza stories including The Brothers WarPlaneswalkerTime Streams, and Bloodlines.

This won’t be the end of Dominaria for us, dear reader, but it will be the end of at least one dearly beloved planeswalker.

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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