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

I have never in my life read a more difficult collection of 300 pages to follow. I don’t even know where to begin with how bad this book is. I’ve tried to identify the exact part of the story where I gave up hope. Maybe it was when Akroma, Angel of Wrath, dove into a box of shoes that was secretly an extra-dimensional portal containing a “deathwurm” and within said creature was Ixidor, Reality Crafter and the body of his lost love Nivea.

Maybe it was during one of the completely unnecessary side-trips involving shadow-men (called unmen) created in Ixidor’s image who decided to try to become human. But, they’re actually two-dimensional beings that are portals to rooms in Ixidor’s palace. Hilarity ensues. Plot and depth do not.

It could have been when a prophecy involving three ancient gods who died 20,000 years ago is unveiled and fulfilled within a few chapters as an army of stone-people (called Glyphs) emerges from the rocks they’ve existed as for said 20,000-year span.

It could have been when Phage and the Cabal Patriarch conceived a child who became the god Kuberr and then that child was born and was nursed by Braids, and then proceeded to show-off to Braids how far he could jump. Yes, how far he could jump. Kuberr. God of greed. To Braids, Cabal Minion.

Was it when Akroma’s diplomatic guests drank ale from kegs strapped to Stonebrow?

Was it when Kamahl decided on a whim to walk from Krosan to Sanctum and finally kill his sister after years of literally sitting still?

Was it when Phage, Akroma, and Zagorka were revealed to be the mothers of the three ancient gods reborn?

The list goes on and on and on but let’s not forget that outside of the horrible plot this story still features 0% character development. Akroma begins and ends the story as a being who believes what she is doing is purely good. Phage begins and ends the story as the selfish and corrupt embodiment of greed. Kamahl appears for about a dozen pages but is still 100% the exact same character who can’t cope with his existence but won’t do anything to change it. Stonebrow just wants to fight and thinks he’s doing honorable things.

There is one character who has some development and that’s Umbra, one of the unmen, but his story is very much overshadowed by the mountain of awfulness that is Legions.

Last but not least we get another visit from our old friend “sudden character change.” This time it really only occurs with Braids. She is captured by Akroma and turned into a devout follower of Akroma. Then she’s re-captured by the Cabal and turned back into a devout follower of the Patriarch. In the end though she is restored by Kuberr to being good old Dementia Caster Braids.

I was worried a character will actually go through some development but thankfully Braids did not.

Ultimately though the entire premise of the plot is absurd. Let me sum it up for you. 20,000 years ago three brothers became gods. They were powerful sorcerers who stole their power from the ancient dragon primordials (who were resurrected briefly in Planeshift, also written by J. Robert King). These brothers even had the good grace to name the world Dominaria. Then they went to war and they all died, sort of.

Each of them was resurrected through the acts of devotion of modern inhabitants of Dominaria. The creativity of Ixidor’s followers raised one in Akroma. The gamesmanship of Zagorka’s Sanctum citizend raised another within her. The greed of the Cabal raised Kuberr in Phage. Then they all decided to go to war with each other so their god-children could be fully-born.

I left the best for last. The three gods are avatars of different things. One is the god of greed. Okay. One is god of creativity. No problem. The last is the god of gaming. Hold on. Gaming? Yes. Gaming. There is an actual scene in this book that involves rolling twenty-sided dice and one character rolls a 19 but the other character beats them by rolling a 20.

That’s where I lost hope. It was pretty early on.

Overall Rating: 0.0 — Don’t read this book. Please, for the love of all things holy do not read Legions. Just read Onslaught, and then maybe, just maybe, read Scourge? We’ll find out next week.

After the disaster that was Invasion block in which Yawgmoth is reduced from insane dark god to rapist, I’m not surprised that J. Robert King is similarly responsible for the travesty that is Onslaught block. Luckily for us, Scourge will be the last novel J. Robert King writes in the Magic universe. I’m sure we’ll learn why.

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

Who am I kidding. This book won’t be good either. Maybe you should just come back in two weeks when we start Mirrodin block?

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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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