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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 4

A new point of view, fights galore, and the first deviation from my image of Ravnica.

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(Wolves as mounts)
We open up with a half-elf named Fonn with wolf mount Biracazir, equipped with golden hide, who are escorting an loxodon, Bayul, who is one of the three non-dryads on the Selesnyan Conclave.  Phew, that's a mouthful.  We learn that Fonn's parents are "gone" and that her father was a wojek and her mother a ledev guardian like she is.  They're traveling the roads and about to enter the City of Ravnica when all of a sudden they're attacked from above!

Three pterro riders of the Gruul clan swoop in, and Fonn handles them pretty easily, killing two, and leaving one injured for questioning.  As that questioning begins, a Boros guard who hadn't seen the battle yells out for Fonn to disarm herself so he can sort things out.  Before she can respond, a dagger appears in his throat, thrown by a dark cloaked stranger at the mouth of an alley.

She chases after and takes care of the assassin, wondering why a typical Gruul clan was getting outside help.  (Outside Dimir help by the looks of it)  Bayul walks on over to check on her, and turns out this dark cloaked figure isn't Dimir, but Rakdos.  (?)  And one that had some protection for Bayul's telepathy.

So let's get this straight, a shadowy cloaked figure who is not Dimir, one of the four guilds that this novel's set revolves around, but is instead one of the Rakdos, is helping out the Gruul in their assumed assassination of the important figure, Bayul.  A little odd that the Rakdos are invovled, but ok.  But then, to aid the surviving Gruul, the Rakdos assassin kills the distraction in the Boros deputy first, rather than attacking the actual threat of Fonn, or taking out the main target in Bayul!  If I wasn't told specifically that he was working with the Gruul, I would have had no idea that the assassin and the Gruul were together.  Either the assassin had flawed logic in his plan of attack, Fonn had flawed reasoning in her assessment of the situation, or the author Corey Herndon had flawed method of communicating to his audience what was going on.

It's a good thing that there's still one person left alive to question to set things straight.  Oh wait, Fonn is forced to kill him, so we're left with a confusing mess.

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Ok, we have a new POV that fits more in line with the typical Hero's Journey.  A young bodyguard that essentially has no experience in the big city despite being born here.  And that bugs me.  Not Fonn herself, but that they're traveling to the big city.

From everything I've learned before picking up the novel, I have it in my head that Ravnica is a Magic version of Corusant.  There are no such thing as traditional forests and forest are instead skyscrapers full of greenery!

But here they are traveling on the open road towards the City of Ravnica, where the guilds have a different relationship amongst each other because of how densely packed they are.  (Bayul explains that the Gruul and Rakdos as the two tribal guilds have a very antagonistic relationship to each other elsewhere on the plane, but in the city, all bets are off.)

Well... the open road isn't completely open like the chapter initially makes me think, because it turns out there are alleys and houses for people to come out and gawk from.

I know the subtitle of the set and novel is "City of Guilds" but I was expecting the whole planet/plane to be the City, or at least the vast majority of it, rather than it just being typical metropolis city size.  So either the novel is deviating from the concept of Ravnica as expressed through the cards and the website, or it also wasn't communicated well.

After that disappointment, discovering that our Selesnyan main character is the cardless Fonn, and not Tolsimir Wolfblood isn't so bad.  She seems to be a female version of him with a golden hued wolf.  And the book at least started out with Agrus Kos as the main main character (and cover image) so there's no wondering if any of the main characters are from the cards.

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