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

Sigh. Just, sigh.

I was warned, but I didn’t really believe it could get any worse than Legions. Then I read Scourge. It’s very, very bad at just about everything, but we’ll try to get through this review without vomiting too often.

Let’s begin with Karona, who is the personified idea of women being responsible for the way men behave around them. Karona is magic incarnate and is described as being perfection and beauty themselves. All of the men in the story throw themselves at her feet and beg to do her bidding. Karona can’t handle being worshiped so she runs away.

The mindless masses follow her to the ends of Otaria and begin literally killing each other to get closer to her. Disgusted with their behavior, Karona continues to play hard-to-get and the people just keep on killing to try just to touch her and serve her in any way possible. It’s pretty gross.

Eventually Karona finds three beings she can relate to: Kamahl and the two un-men. So let’s talk about them.

Kamahl continues to be the multiverse’s most vanilla hero ever. The biggest tragedy of these six books might be the authors combined inability to kill off Kamahl or at least make him somewhat interesting. But he isn’t. He’s the most boring thing in the entire story as he continues to cry about having killed his sister, struggles to master the power of the Mirari, and destroys everything he tries to save. Good job guy.

The two un-men are J. Robert King’s attempt at comic relief. Except instead of being funny they’re just an endless string of penis jokes. They serve as Karona’s prophets because they can talk with her. Being non-human they don’t experience the same desire to bow down to Karona that everyone else does. If they did, King couldn’t keep making juvenile jokes about urination and copulation.

The other main characters of our story are the three gods who created Karona who aren’t very nice people. In true J. Robert King fashion they have absolutely no character depth at all and it eventually gets them killed. The three brothers come up with a plan, or came up with a plan 20,000 years ago and are now finishing it, but Kamahl doesn’t approve so he tells them a new plan. They try the original plan anyways and Kamahl does the “honorable” thing and blah, blah, blah.

So we have a psychopathic female main character, and a complete absence of any other female role models. We also have a 100% Mary Sue hero in the form of Kamahl. Throw in some completely unnecessary and overly offensive comic relief and we have a J. Robert King fantasy novel.

Am I over the fact that he turned Yawgmoth into a rapist? No, I’m not.

It wouldn’t really be a J. Robert King novel without a ridiculous ending, so here it is, all of which is revealed in the final 100 or so pages of a 1,200-page mega-story spanning the beginning of Odyssey through the end of Scourge:

The Mirari is a probe sent to Dominaria by Karn to monitor things but it has a flaw which is why everyone covets it and uses it to wreak havoc so instead of fixing things Karn just ignores it while Kamahl finally comes into possession of the Mirari and uses it to kill his sister Jeska who had a nascent planeswalker spark but Jeska gets reanimated by Braids to unknowingly be Phage who will become the mother of the reborn sorcerer Kuberr who has been dead for 20,000 years and during that time secretly created and manipulated the Cabal in order to facilitate his rebirth alongside his brother Lowallyn who was also dead for 20,000 years but could reanimate as a crazy person and thus was reborn as Ixidor and their third brother Averru who exists as a city.

Deep breath…

The three brothers are reborn and their mothers go to war with each other but Kamahl puts an end to it when he kills Zagorka, Akroma, and Phage in one fell swoop but instead of killing them it for some unknown reason turns them into Karona who is the manifestation of all magic on Dominaria and is now in control of Jeska’s body but the three brothers have plans to kill Karona and steal her power which is what got them killed 20,000 years ago in the first place but here we are repeating the sins of the past.

One more deep breath…

So finally Karn visits Kamahl and decides it’s time to set things right but instead of calling himself Karn he calls himself Lord Macht because J. Robert King has a hard-on for cheesy plot revelations but either way he tells Kamahl how to use the Mirari to destroy Karona and that by doing so it will restore magic to Dominaria so Kamahl and the three brothers battle Karona who kills the three brothers and then breaks all of Kamahl’s fingers so he can’t wield the sword but then her two prophets kill her when her back is turned because Karn told them to and then everything goes back to normal and Karn takes Jeska away to his new metal plane of Argentum where he restores her and informs her that she’s a planeswalker.

Overall Rating: 0.0 — The only thing I can say at this point is that I’m glad I don’t have to read any more J. Robert King novels. There’s no character development. King has epic ideas but executes them incredibly poorly. The combat is difficult to follow. The dialogue is atrocious. The juvenile humor is embarrassing. I can go on for days, but I won’t. Let’s all move on with our lives.

Next Week’s Book—The Moons of Mirrodin by Will McDermott

Next week we finally leave Dominaria again and this time it’s for a full three-novel block when we travel to Mirrodin (which was abruptly introduced at the end of Scourge). We’ll take a short trip to the world that Karn created before making a final journey back to Dominaria to find out just how messed up everything is.

Hmm, a world made entirely of metal, what could go wrong?

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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