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 J. Robert King

The climax of Urza’s legendary tale begins here, with Phyrexia’s invasion of Dominaria. It begins with three portals opening up over Benalia. The crew of the Weatherlight tries desperately to close the portals and save the city but it is to no avail. The invading fleet, led by the spider-like Tsabo Tavoc, lays waste to the city of Benalia while the crew is trying to rally the people of Gerrard’s home nation to fight.

This is how much of the Invasion plays out. One by one the nations of Dominaria try to defend themselves from the Phyrexian plague. Benalia falls. Zhalfir and Shiv are phased out of existence by Teferi and Jhoira. Yavimaya defends itself but Llanowar falls. The combined might of Keld and Urborg fall. Tolaria falls. Only one battleground remains as the Invasion continues: Koilos.

There’s a poetically cyclic element to the battle being waged in Koilos, the place where it all began six thousand years ago when Yawgmoth lost the battle of Megheddon Defile to the Thran. It continued when Urza and Mishra discovered the portal and each left with half of the powerstone that had previously sealed it. The story moved further when Xantcha and Gix battled there and the portal was once again sealed. Now, Gerrard and Tsabo Tavoc would have their chance to leave their mark on Koilos.

Urza’s saga is written in the blood of those who have died for his war against Phyrexia. It’s written in the blood of his brother Mishra. It’s written in the blood of his friend Xantcha. It’s written in the blood of the angels who died in Serra’s Realm, the millions who died on Mercadia and Rath, and of course the countless sacrifices made on Dominaria itself. It’s the story of just how far Urza will go to get revenge on Yawgmoth for what he did to Mishra.

Urza says it’s about protecting Dominaria and all the Multiverse but in reality his crusade is one of vengeance for the death of his brother, six thousand years ago. Similarly, Yawgmoth’s personal battles have always been about vengeance for the way the Thran society treated him. These are two powerful beings who feel they’ve been wronged and the entire multiverse suffers as a result.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a lot of suffering in this novel, and a lot of consideration into what Urza is really trying to accomplish and whether the cost he has paid for it is too steep. It is a sentiment that will be echoed in this story by many, many characters.

Overall Rating: 3.0 — Invasion isn’t a bad story. On the plus side is all the great story content that gets us one step closer to the final showdowns. On the negative side is the choppiness of the story from place to place and the wide cast of characters, some of whom feel forced into the story. There are about two dozen major characters in Invasion and that’s definitely too many. Also, the introduction of a brand new villain in Tsabo Tavoc adds to the confusion.

If you enjoy action novels then you’ll love Invasion. I didn’t particularly enjoy a lot of the combat and to be frank I can see why Wizards of the Coast has moved away from the blending of science fiction and fantasy they used to court in favor of the high fantasy we get today. There’s just something strange about combining magic, swords, skyships, and laser cannons. Maybe other stories can execute that well, but Invasion does not.

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

Just when you thought it was safe to celebrate the victory at Koilos, SURPRISE! It’s the entire plane of Rath overlaid on top of Dominaria! Old friends meet again as Crovax leads the Phyrexian forces of Rath into Dominaria alongside Ertai and Selenia against Gerard and Urza and the allied Dominarian forces. The final battle escalates now as our heroes face their greatest challenges.

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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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