by Jeff Grubb
Review by KM
Let’s do a throwback here, okay?
I have been spending the last month buried in Magic: The Gathering cards as I try to catalog my collection. I own a lot more than I expected, that’s for sure.
I had heard a lot about the novels that they used to release in the Fat Packs of older sets, but I had never gotten a chance to read them — I got into Magic around 2010 (my husband had some of the books from previous blocks, but he’d gotten rid of them by the time we got together).
I decided a few weeks ago I was going to read all of the Magic books that were released, but I was immediately hit by a roadblock. All of these books that had once been in my library system had either been withdrawn or stolen. They’re from the 90’s, it’s not like I could easily walk into my local bookshop and pick one up. Hell, not even the gaming shops around here had the old ones I was looking for. It was awful trying to track down these books. I couldn’t even start at the first ones released; the furthest back I could get was The Brothers’ War. I have to say, I think this one may be the best of them all.
The Myth. The Magic.
Dominarian legends speak of a mighty conflict, obscured by the mists of history. Of a conflict between the brothers Urza and Mishra for supremacy on the continent of Terisiare. Of titantic engines that scarred and twisted the very planet. Of a final battle that sank continents and shook the skies.
The saga of the Brothers’ War.
There’s something so awesome about being familiar with the Magic cards and then finding all the lore about them in the book. I loved the discovery of the ornithopers, the history of the Koilios caves, and especially, the sibling rivalry between Urza and Mishra. The backstory is so in-depth and it’s one of the aspects I love most about Magic. For someone who has been playing a long time without reading these, it was great to link the original Phyrexian lore to what is happening currently with the Planeswalkers.
Before this trek into 90’s fantasy novels, I’d been spending a lot of time in current YA. In current YA, it seems there’s always a romance that is pushed. Always. Please contridict me; I was starting to lose hope. There isn’t romance in The Brothers’ War. There’s a marriage, yes, but I promise no romance. I actually believe that Urza is asexual, though it is never stated in the novel. It was kind of refreshing to see a story so hinged on battle and familial bonds, rather than anyone just wanting to be back with their girlfriend.
I did a casual Google search on the author too and I can say he clearly owns my life, even though he doesn’t know it. He was one of the people who established this lore than runs (mostly) true to the current story. After getting done with Magic, he moved onto Guild Wars and helped create the other game that takes up all my time. He’s moved past GW2 recently and I have no doubt his new project will end up controlling me as well.
Whether you’re an old Magic player or have no idea what tapping mana means, this book is awesome. It drags me into a new plane where artifacts, cyborgs, and magic all exist.