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

Finally, the Mirari is buried deep within the Krosan forest and we can all get on with life in Otaria without constant war! Or so you thought at the end of Odyssey, Torment, and Judgment. In reality though this is Magic the Gathering so we’re back on Otaria with plenty of conflict brewing and most of it thanks to Kamahl the ex-barbarian.

So even though he managed to save the entire continent from Chainer and Laquatus and the Cabal, Kamahl is depressed over the death of his sister Jeska, now called Phage. So he travels to Aphetto to fight her in the pits and she beats him despite all of his newly-found green mana. He does what any sensible person would do and goes back to Krosan, tail between his legs, and raises an army of mutant forest-creatures to go back and claim his sister from Phage and the Cabal.


There’s a lot wrong with Kamahl. He systematically goes through the forest transforming snakes and shrubs and centaurs into crazy mutant versions of themselves. They grow to massive sized and gain human-like sentience if they didn’t already have it. Kamahl has become a master of green mana who can transform life itself. He’s using all of that power not to defend the world from the Mirari, as he previously did, but to save his sister, and in reality save himself from the guilt of killing his sister.

So Kamahl raises his army and goes back to Aphetto to fight but Braids has foreseen all and has already sold tickets to a death-match between Kamahl and Phage. Kamahl reluctantly agrees to this but has his general, Stonebrow, ready with his army to siege Aphetto when the Cabal go back on their word to hand Phage over when Kamahl succeeds. So Kamahl and his sister fight and Kamahl seems to be winning when a new challenger enters the arena.

Where the heck did this angel come from? Okay let’s recap that story real quick. In-between Kamahl’s visits to Aphetto to fight Phage, there has been other fighting including Phage defeating a pair of combatants: Ixidor and Nivea. Nivea was an angel who summoned the remnants of the Northern Order to fight for her and Ixidor was an illusionist who would arm the soldiers with illusory armor and protections. Phage killed Nivea and the Cabal exposed a counterfeit coinage operation Ixidor was running and then they abandoned him in the middle of the desert.

While in the desert Ixidor discovers that he can shape reality to his will (who knew) and creates an oasis paradise for himself so he can hide from the guilt of getting Nivea killed (just like Kamahl hides from the guilt of killing his sister get it). Over time though he becomes increasingly mad with the power of being a god and increasingly paranoid that Phage will come kill him that he creates Akroma to go kill Phage first.


You would think this brings us to the end of our story but no, it does not. Kamahl and Phage team up to defeat Akroma (wait what) and then they form an alliance between the forest and the Cabal (hold on a sec) and create a combined army to march into the desert and destroy Ixidor (are you serious).

Overall Rating: 3.0 — There are large parts of this story that are incredibly difficult to follow. The narratives of combat, especially, leave a lot to be desired. At this point, after Odyssey, Torment, Judgment, and now Onslaught, we have read all we can read when it comes to fighting in the Cabal’s pits/coliseum. So the story has escalated to wars but they’re fought in single battles. That’s not how war works, at all.

It’s sad to continue to see the one-dimensional nature of every single character in a Magic the Gathering story but ultimately I suppose that’s why Wizards Creative team is so very different than it used to be. Kamahl, Phage/Jeska, Ixidor, Braids, and Akroma are all beings of single motivations and have no dynamic character development whatsoever. The only development that ever happens is as the result of trauma that creates a complete and instantaneous change in the character. They might as well kill them and replace them with a new character.

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

Next week we’ll see if the Cabal Patriarch’s plans to take over all of Otaria will come to fruition, if Phage will ever become Jeska again, and if Kamahl can ever get over himself. In the meantime we can all continue to wonder why we always see Akroma depicted as she was when she was created even though she lost her legs in her first ever fight and had them replaced with the legs of a jaguar.

No seriously, who’s stupid idea was that?

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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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