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.

The Moons of Mirrodin
by Will McDermott

Our story begins with a prologue of sorts, picking up where we left off at the end of Scourge. Karn and the newly awakened planeswalker Jeska leave Karn’s artificial plane of Argentum to travel the planes, as you do. In his stead, left to monitor the world in Karn’s absence, is Memnarch. What could go wrong? Memnarch begins exploring the world, studying the formulas that Karn used to create the world, marveling in its beauty and simplicity.

Memnarch, we learn, was transformed from the Mirari, which was the failed probe Karn had sent to the continent of Otaria on Dominaria to monitor that world. As the Mirari, Memnarch caused the rise and fall of nations, gods, and eventually killed Karona putting an end to it all before returning in Karn’s care. Now he is the warden of Argentum and after a few decades of pondering his existence, Memnarch has decided there are two things wrong with the world. First, there are no living beings. Second, Argentum is a dumb name and Mirrodin is a much cooler name.

Fast-forward some unknown amount of time and we meet Glissa in the metallic forest known as the Tangle. This is where we, the reader, begin our wild ride through Will McDermott’s vision of Mirrodin, a world of metal. The forest is made of green coppers with some brown tarnish. Glissa is a hunter along with her friend Kane who is one of the Tel-Jihad Chosen, a protector of the Tree of Tales.

The story begins to unfold much like a young adult novel. Glissa has visions of the memories of her ancestors. All elves have them and every few years the trolls perform a ritual to cleanse the elves of these memories lest they destroy their psyche. Glissa however has very powerful visions of forests made without metal and elves who are 100% flesh and blood instead of the half-flesh/half-metal mix that she is made of. Glissa decides she is going to avoid the next ritual.

Events move quickly as Glissa is kidnapped by trolls who tell her they want to protect her but then constructs known as Levelers attack the Tangle and kill Glissa’s whole family while searching for her. Glissa kills a few of them but then gets injured and dragged out of the only home she’s ever known. It’s a cliche formula but after a dozen or so novels of terrible stories this one is pretty refreshing.

Glissa awakes to find herself in the home of Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer. Thus begins a Wizard of Oz-esque journey through Mirrodin that takes Glissa and Slobad to the lands of the Leonin where they learn that Glissa will either save the world or destroy it. When the Leonin are attacked by an army of Nim, Glissa and Slobad travel to the Mephidross and confront Geth who leads the Nim army and was paid off by a Vedalken in the form of a serum that gives you visions of how the world was created if you drink it.

While in the Mephidross, Glissa and Slobad discover Bosh, Iron Golem, who becomes their friend and companion along the trip. Bosh believes he has existed for a long time and once tried to save Memnarch in a war but has since been disabled until Slobad fixed him up. Bosh’s memories are unclear though, so the trio return to the Tangle to get more answers out of the trolls.

Back home things don’t go well for Glissa when the vedalken hunting her shows up. There are still two races left to visit before confronting the Wizard of the Vedalken so we’re off to see the goblins and then the humans before heading for the Seat of the Synod. I won’t spoil the rest for you because this one has a pretty enjoyable ending.

Overall Rating: 4.0 — Character development? Intriguing plot? Genuine cliff-hanger ending? Is this a Magic: the Gathering novel? I’m flabbergasted. The formula is a pretty straight-forward young adult hero’s journey but it’s on Mirrodin so the vorthos lore is fantastic. More importantly though the story isn’t completely inundated with absurdities like 20,000-year-old deity reincarnation or the sudden emergence of five ancient primordial dragons.

Throughout the entirety of Mirrodin you want to know more. Sure, there are some pretty obvious answers, but not everything is painfully obvious and you still don’t know exactly what Glissa’s destiny is, what Memnarch’s plans are, or how anyone got there in the first place. You really have to tune in next time to find out and for the first time in months I’m really excited for the next Magic novel.

Next Week’s Book—The Darksteel Eye by Jess Lebow

Glissa’s journey continues as she, Slobad, and Bosh travel across Mirrodin in pursuit of/running away from Glissa’s destiny that lies with Memnarch at the core of the artificial plane of Mirrodin. From the back cover:

“Together, they must flee across the harsh metal world of Mirrodin, running from an enemy who seems all-knowing and anticipates their every move. Amid savage battles and breathtaking escapes, they are ever aware of a power that stands at the very center of the world. For within the deepest reaches of Mirrodin, the Darksteel Eye watches. And waits.”

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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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