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.

by Vance Moore

If you thought the Prophecy card expansion was bad you should read the book. On second thought, maybe don’t? Okay, that’s a bit harsh, but it’s hard to figure out the point of this story as a bridge between Mercadian Masques/Nemesis and Invasion.

One the one side we have the story of the Weatherlight crew escaping Rath, surviving Mercadia, and coming out of it with a fully-functioning skyship that is more powerful than ever and can planeswalk again. We also have the story of the members of the crew who were left behind on Rath. Both stories occur simultaneously and pave the road for the inevitable Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria.

Prophecy however does not bridge the story of the Weatherlight with the upcoming invasion story. Instead we get a seemingly out-of-place story about a war between Jamuraa and Keld. The story features a few characters we previously met including Teferi, Barrin, and Rayne. It also introduces a lot of new characters on both sides of the battle. What it doesn’t really do is explain anything about the impending invasion.

The story of the Invasion, and the ultimate battle between Urza and Yawgmoth, is the Magic story. It begins with the Brothers War, depicted in Antiquities, the second ever expansion set. Its impact is felt in the Dark, the Fallen Empires, the Ice Age, Weatherlight, Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus, Urza’s Saga, Urza’s Legcy, Urza’s Destiny, Mercadian Masques, Nemesis, Invasion, Planeshift, and Apocalypse.

Arabian Nights and Legends are exceptions. But what’s up with Mirage, Visions, and now Prophecy? They seem wholly out of place to be honest. It’s not that Jamuraa isn’t an interesting place, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the main story. Why dedicate three expansions to telling the story of Teferi and Jamuraa? And why split it up in this way? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Overall Rating: 1.5 — Here’s the thing though, Prophecy isn’t an inherently bad story. But, it has three major strikes against it. Firstly all of the main characters are completely one-dimensional. They’re represented by the cycle of legendary spellshapers that i’ve interspersed into this review. Each is the embodiment of an aspect of their color, but in the story they’re just very poorly fleshed out characters. Once again we’ve fallen into the Michael Bay trap of storytelling.

Second, this is as much a science fiction story as it is fantasy. There are rocket launchers, mech suits, robot warriors, airships, land barges, and more and more all operated by power stones. There’s plenty of magical ability, sure, as shown by the spellshapers, but the core of the war has a lot of science fiction military in it. Many of this comes to us thanks to Uncle Urza who has been escalating Dominaria’s war-technology for thousands of years at this point.

Which brings us to our final point, which is that the book takes way too long to get to the point. It’s only in the final fifty pages or so that it starts to become a little murky that there is a connection between this war and Urza’s story. It is a very, very, very painfully difficult connection to make. It doesn’t seem to actually impact Urza’s story. But, it’s there. I say this not to spoil you, but to give you hope when you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, like I did, “What’s the point?”

Next Week’s Book—Invasion by J. Robert King

This is it folks. The time has come. Yawgmoth versus Urza in the battle for all of Dominaria begins with the Phyrexian Invasion and the only thing standing in the way of the big bad beasties is Gerrard and the rest of the crew of the Weatherlight.

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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