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 Will McDermott

We finally come to the epic conclusion of the Odyssey story. For those of you who may not quite remember, Odyssey as a block was an exploration of the different colors of Magic. The original Odyssey story revolves around the white-aligned Norther Order and the blue-aligned Mer Empire. The story in Chainer’s Torment revolves around the black-aligned Cabal. Now we come to Judgment which will, obviously, focus on the red-aligned Pardic Barbarians and the green-aligned Krosan forest.

When we last left our hero, Kamahl, he had killed his best friend, Chainer, after said friend had basically destroyed Cabal City after being driven mad by the power of the Mirari. Chainer had already exiled the Cabal Patriarch to the coastal city of Aphetto so the Cabal was still around, but diminished. The Mer Empire was split in two by Ambassador Laquatus and Empress Llawan. The Northern Order had declared all-out war on the Cabal.

In the wake of all these happenings, Kamahl decided that he needed to return to the mountains and unite the barbarian tribes to defend themselves against the Order, the Cabal, and the Mer Empire, all of whom would be coming to claim the Mirari. The setup for the third and final act of this story was quite grand.

Things quickly go south for Kamahl when it turns out that Barbarians aren’t terribly interested in being organized into an army under one man’s banner, even if that man wields the most powerful artifact on the continent. It doesn’t help that Kamahl has been gone for years, and other barbarians are now running things in his absence. His sister, Jeska, tries to persuade him to be diplomatic, but Kamahl decides that he’ll just fight every last barbarian until no one is left to oppose him.

You can imagine how well that works out.

Things turn even further south when a civil war breaks out between the barbarians who follow and oppose Kamahl. Jeska tries to talk sense into Balthor and conspires to steal the Mirari while Kamahl sleeps. Her plan goes awry and Kamahl runs his own sister through with the Mirari-sword (side note, the Mirari embedded itself in the hilt of Kamahl’s sword which was forged from the remains of Urza’s staff). At this point Kamahl realizes he may have gone just a bit too far. Jeska isn’t dead though so Kamahl and Balthor take her body and the sword on a quest to find Seton in the Krosan forest so he can heal Jeska.


In the meantime, Laquatus has been trying to manipulate the Cabal and the Order into destroying each other while Braids has been trying to recover the Mirari and Llawan is trying to defeat Laquatus and the Cabal Patriarch just wants all his power back so everyone signs a tenuous treaty (except Llawan who has her own side dealings going on) but then everyone breaks this treaty because they all want the same thing: Mirari.

While the Cabal and the Order are fighting each other, Kamahl and Balthor enter the forest which everyone is afraid of because the Nantuko are basically ninja mantis-people who kill everyone that gets near. The Cabal and the Order, believe it or not, agree to a truce to track down Kamahl. None of this goes well and pretty much everyone gets killed except for Kamahl and Laquatus.

Overall Rating: 3.5 — There’s a lot happening in this story but all you really need to know is that Kamahl instantly became a pacifist when he ran his sister through. He refused to use the sword and instead sought out the peacefulness of the chief nantuko druid and he becomes a zen master of sorts. But then Laquatus comes calling and Kamahl takes up the sword again to kill Laquatus. The. End.

Except not because the ramifications of what Kamahl has done (because he’s an idiot) will lead to the story of Onslaught block (more below).

All in all the book was enjoyable but like many Magic novels of this time period there is way too much crammed into this tale. There’s again, unfortunately, no character development whatsoever. Kamahl goes from crazy barbarian to crazy all-powerful barbarian to peaceful druid. But none of those changes have any kind of development. They’re all sudden and violent. It’s very disorienting. The rest of the characters are remarkably one-dimensional.

Still, it’s not a bad story and that’s good because it goes on for three more books.

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

Next week we begin the final chapter of Dominaria’s pre-mending history as we turn to the Cabal city of Aphetto and rejoin the Cabal Patriarch, Braids, and their newest pet in the pits. We’ll also meet an interesting artist who has the power to turn his creations into reality.

We’ll also return to our hero Kamahl, fresh off of his metamorphosis in Judgment, as he tries to right all of the wrongs that have ever been committed on Otaria, especially his own, and most especially the death of his sister, Jeska.

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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