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.

Time Spiral
by Scott McGough

When we last left Dominaria, the plane’s magical energies (aka mana) had been completely devastated by a reincarnated goddess named Karona who went to war with her three reincarnated children while everyone on Otaria and basically the rest of Dominaria suffered as a result until Karn was able to put an end to all this nonsense.

Well things haven’t really improved too much since then.

When we last left Teferi, he and Jhoira had come up with a plan to save Zhalfir and Shiv (two of the nations on Dominaria) from the Phyrexian invasion. Instead of sticking around to fight Yawgmoth as Urza desired, the two Tolarian Academy graduates phased two entire continents out of sync with the rest of Dominaria, making them immune from the impending Rath overlay and invasion. Urza was not pleased, but Teferi and Jhoira left anyways.

Now Teferi and Jhoira are back on Dominaria and preparing to restore Zhalfir and Shiv to their rightful place. They’ve been gone for some time and well, things aren’t exactly the same. There is a massive time rift over Shiv and Teferi believes that he needs to get rid of it or returning Shiv to Dominaria will end up destroying the entire plane (or at least Shiv).

So Teferi, Jhoira, and four Shivans travel across Dominaria to learn more about the time rifts. They begin in Skyshroud where Freyalise had installed the Rathi forest into the mountains of Keld. There’s a massive time rift there, a result of that planar merging. Freyalise is not happy to see Teferi as she is very isolationist, but she informs Teferi that the time rifts have been there for a long time, the result of planeswalker meddling, but the arrival of Karona turned the time rifts into mana sinks which have sucked up all of Dominaria’s mana.

Teferi has never heard of Karona, of course, and that’s when Freyalise gets to laughingly tell him he’s been gone for 300 years, not the 100 years he planned for. Womp, womp.

The crew tracks down two new party members: Radha and Venser. Radha is a half-elf/half-keldon who is somehow able to draw mana from the rift over Skyshroud making her incredibly powerful. Venser is a human artificer from Urborg who builds devices that interact with the rift over the Stronghold that was once on Rath and was forcefully installed in Urborg by the Phyrexians. Both help Teferi better understand the nature of the rifts and then he decides to conduct an experiment and planeswalk directly into the Urborg rift while Venser’s device is functioning.

Big mistake.

Everyone gets a brief trip through space and time to see major events from Dominaria’s history including the destruction of the Tolarian Academy and the end of the Brother’s war. They then find themselves on a cliffside in a place called Madera and they come face to face with Nicol Bolas, the long-dead elder dragon planeswalker. He and Teferi duel for a while. Teferi is no match for Bolas. But then Teferi explains to Bolas the nature of the time rifts and Bolas leaves ASAP. I’m sure that’s not a bad omen.

With all the information he needs, the group returns finally to Shiv to put an end to the Shivan time rift. Except Radha returns to Skyshroud where she musters a warhost of elves and storms Keld to destroy the leader of the Gathans, which are a time-displaced group of Keldons who were part of the experiments of a mage named Gatha who worked under Urza and spliced Keldon and Phyrexian genetics. Yikes.

In the end everything works out great. Radha defeats the Gathans and becomes a proper Keldon warlord, merging with the land of Keld. Teferi, for his part, manages to eliminate the Shivan time rift, sacrificing his life in the process. Except he’s still alive at the end. But something has gone somewhat wrong…

Overall Rating: 3.0 — Time Spiral is a throwback to the action/adventure style of Magic novels that were quite popular during the Weatherlight saga. Without any drama we are once again bereft of any kind of character development. Teferi, in true planeswalker fashion, remains unchanged throughout this story, and perhaps unchanged even since his days as a student at Urza’s academy. Jhoira similarly may be several centuries older but she has not changed very much. Our new additions, Radha and Venser, are similarly one-dimensional, especially in the case of Radha who has a one-track mind focused on fulfilling her Keldon destiny (much to Freyalise’s chagrin).

What saves Time Spiral from being a complete waste of time, however, is the massive amount of vorthos content and the relative enjoyment of the action. Behind the scenes, Wizards of the Coast is making a very, very important change to their storytelling. Planeswalkers will no longer be the omnipotent demigods they’ve always been. Instead, they’re going to be normal characters who happen to have the extraordinary ability to move between planes. This multiverse change is being reflected in an event called The Mending which begins with the events in Time Spiral and will change all living planeswalkers throughout the multiverse.

If you enjoyed the Phyrexian Invasion story, then this is essentially its epilogue. For Dominaria itself, it’s essentially a conclusion of sorts. After all, it’s now been over ten years since the Mending and we still have no idea what happened to Dominaria…

Next Week’s Book—Planar Chaos by Scott McGough and Timothy Sanders

The action continues next week in Planar Chaos! Planeswalkers reunite on Dominaria as the time rifts continue to wreak havoc across the world. Freyalise, Windgrace, and Karn will have to decide to do what’s right for themselves or what’s right for Dominaria.

But what about Nicol Bolas and Teferi? And where do Venser and Radha fit into this puzzle? As we get closer and closer to the Mending, things will become very dire for Dominaria before they get better, if they ever get better.

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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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