The preview season for Throne of Eldraine, Magic’s next expansion, is upon us. In a rather unusual move, Wizards of the Coast released the set’s accompanying novel the same day that the main preview season got underway, making The Wildered Quest by Kate Elliott the first cohesive look we get at Magic’s newest plane.

Before anything else, I want to say that The Wildered Quest is well worth a read. I’m often very critical of Magic story, but this is a genuinely good piece of storytelling. It’s also an easy book to get into for the casual Magic fan. The only background necessary to understand what happens is knowing about Garruk’s curse.

An Arthurian Adventure

While Eldraine was pitched to the audience as as a world where “fairy tales meets King Arthur,” the story Elliott gives us leans much harder on its Arthurian influences than the fairy tale roots.

With the exception of two or three chapters, The Wildered Quest is written from the perspective of Will and Rowan Kenrith, twin children of the realm’s high king, as they set out on their first quest on the dawn of their 18th birthday. Notably, the royal scions are not yet planeswalkers when the book begins, marking this as the twin’s origin story. As a device this keeps the story and quest self-contained, which comes as a welcome change after the multiverse-wide stakes of War of the Spark.

(It also means that The Wildered Quest takes place before Battlebond “story,” though it isn’t clear where either story takes place in the Gatewatch timeline.)

The Kenrith twins are also the first planeswalkers I can think of who don’t possess overwhelmingly powerful magic. Rowan and Will are proficient with lightning and ice respectively, but they’re also 18 year-olds who also had to devote large chunks of time to learning swordplay, diplomacy, and a dozen other skills. The result is the first Magic story I can remember where our heroes don’t simply have the power to blast their way out of danger. Even in relatively small fights their spells sometimes aren’t enough and I think that’s a very interesting dynamic.

Garruk and Oko

This brings me to the other two planeswalkers in the story: Garruk and Oko.

We learn in the opening chapter that Garruk is still cursed and still hunting planeswalkers. He targets Oko but falls victim to the fey planeswalker’s traps and glamours. Oko, for his part, is in equal parts fascinating and despicable. His motivations and grudges seem personal and grounded even though they aren’t fully explained, but despite his claimed hatred of hypocrisy and his old wounds from some mysterious past imprisonment, he doesn’t hesitate to invade the hunter’s mind and enslave him.

For being Garruk Wildspeaker’s triumphant return to the story after years away, The Wildered Quest uses him more as a plot device than a character for most of the book. Garruk spends most of the story as Oko’s silent muscle, and while this is a pivotal story for the cursed hunter, it won’t be what you’re looking for if you were waiting for Garruk to become a true part of Magic’s story once again.

There isn’t much more that I can say about Garruk without spoiling what happens in the book, so let’s move on.

The Quest

The eponymous quest involved in The Wildered Quest is Will and Kenrith’s search for their missing father, who disappears early in the book.

Algenus Kenrith is the high king of the Realm, and his disappearance threatens to destabilize the five kingdoms and plunge the realm into war. The book doesn’t have the word count to spin this quest into a matter of epic proportions, but it doesn’t truly need to.

The trials the young twins do face feels like genuine obstacles, and the ways that they solve some of these problems are where the influence of fairy tales are felt strongest in the story.


The worldbuilding is the one area of the book that I think truly suffers for having been released this early in Throne of Eldraine’s preview cycle. The story is intended as an introduction to Eldraine, and, as such, it is missing a lot of the worldbuilding support the cards in the set. (For example, all of the card images included in this piece to illustrate the story were revealed well after The Wildered Quest was released.)

As far as I can tell, the world of Eldraine is divided between “the Realm” and “the Wilds.” The realm is comprised of five kingdoms, which are (sometimes) ruled over by a high king.  Such a king can only be crowned after winning knighthood in all five kingdoms, and being chosen to pursue that task by a mysterious creature known as the questing beast. Of the five kingdoms, only Vantress and Garenbrig receive any much attention in the story, and they smack of old Dominaria-era worldbuilding, where there’s one distinct area of the map for each color of Magic. I hope I’m wrong in assuming this, as it always seemed to create overly simplified conflicts in the past. (Vantress and Garenbrig are the Blue and Green kingdoms, assuming I’m correct about this model.)

The Wilds are harder to define. In a classic civilization vs. nature storyline, it would make sense to divide it as Green versus the four other colors, but I get the impression all colors are equally represented in both Wilds and Realm. The best description of the Wilds that I can give is “Alice in Wonderland meets Innistrad.” Distance, direction, time, and the seasons all seem to distort within its boundaries, and both monsters and curses abound within its shifting borders. I love dark faeries in fiction, and this is the first Magic world since Lorwyn where elves have truly felt dangerous.

All in all, The Wildered Quest is not only a good introduction to the world of Eldraine, but is also an enjoyable book in its own right.


This article contains referral links from which Hipsters of the Coast may receive a commission. 

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.