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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 3



Revelations and understanding. A lot of this sounded familiar, and now I know why.

And before I proceed. I should say just in case that I write these reviews assuming that people are familiar with the cards and the articles posted on magicthegathering.com. If I saw any spoilers, they're spoilers thanks to information gained from those sources, and not from the book itself. I have yet to read the future chapters to gain spoilers from them. This is a blanket spoiler warning for future posts if somehow someone has remained spoiler free and wants to remain that way while also following along with this blog. Crazy talk, but I suppose it's possible.

In fact, I'm putting together the Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn Primer that collects all the story relevant magicthegathering.com articles, which should be up in a few days hopefully. I'll be sure to have that up first for the next book release.


Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn - Chapter 3

After the sweeping arm of presenting their location... apparently they're still traveling. But maybe not alone. Venser and Koth suspect a cute little myr has been following them, yet remaining out of sight. Staying at least out of arm's reach are all the nim they pass as they leave the Oxxida Chain mountains and finally reach the Mephidross. Probably because they're wary of all strangers since they're not above notice to the Phyrexians. Nim are still Mirrans, and Mirrans need to be compleated.

After a quick break where Koth notices Venser has to take a diminishing supply of medicine for his shakes, and after a couple exhausted sleepless days of walking, they come across a snakelike Phyrexian. They ambush it and still they lose.

The two wake up inside a chamber, about to be experimented on, and after a couple back and forth saves, eventually it's the return of Elspeth, who enters by cutting a hole through the wall, that saves the day. But killing two Phyrexians in a chamber doesn't mean they're safe. They sneak around in the swamp outside, then have to hide, as a door in the base of a hill opens up and Phyrexians of all shapes and sizes stream out for hours and hours.

It's a full scale invasion, and they know they can't win against it alone, if at all. For some reason Venser still believes their only chance to win is to find Karn (Isn't he depowered like all planeswalkers?). Koth glimpses a silver creature for a second, and thinks it was the creature that was following, but by the time Venser looks, it's gone.

We close the chapter with Elspeth admitting she's seen Phyrexians before. She was captured as a little kid, and put in a prison cell with others. When the Phyrexians would come for her, she would point out others that would be better to experiment on, and they Phyrexians always listened. Time after time, she sacrificed others so she would live (Tough. Maybe her honor comes from guilt). The hardest was when she'd hear the cries of other kids she pointed out. She did this for so long that the Phyrexians eventually looked upon her as part of the prison itself. One day she decided to escape. She cut open a corpse, and hid inside it for at least two days before the the corpse was taken out to be disposed of.

* * *


I've Read This Before

At least a slightly different abbreviated version. Up to this point, we have had a version of this story that was presented to us as a webcomic. I suspected it, but I was too lazy to check. (I know, I know! That's why I'm building this whole database... The site's still in beta! I can do what I want!) Does this mean that some/all of the other webcomics are also told in novel form? Are they all teasers to the books?

My problem is that isn't not quite the same. Some details are different. Does this mean the webcomics aren't canon?

Since the material covers the same situations, which do I recommend? Despite some of the technical problems I have with the prose of this book, it's so much better in the book compared to the webcomic. The comic has some serious pacing issues which are probably unavoidable considering the amount of pages they allow for each issue. Pacing issues so bad, that you can't really get much more than gist of some situations, and get no full understanding. It would have been better to read the novel first, and then webcomic afterwards if you want to see some visuals.


Elspeth

Case-in-point. The webcomic in no way detailed properly Elspeth's experience with the Phyrexians. I most definitely felt for Eslpeth now, whereas the webcomic only made me confused. Her plight makes so much more sense now. And I have a lot better understanding of her situation. Maybe no the mouth frothing, but at least her overall motivation.

While I like her backstory, I'm still not fond of the quick, "Are you here just to talk?" speech she had from the ore soup serving shaman in the previous chapter. It that really soup woman's only role for the entire book? Thumbs down.


Speaking of Prose

This bit is right after Koth says he sees the creature that's been following them:

Venser turned to look, but the creature was gone.

Koth stood in a crouch and began moving back along the slough toward the hole. Venser watched him go.

"You who are such tight comrades?" Venser asked Elspeth.

Elspeth watch as the Phyrexians continued moving. There were fewer of them than before, she noted. "Not that such things are your business in the least," Elspeth said. "But we met only days before he kidnapped you."

Let me repeat that. "You who are such tight comrades?" Venser asked Elspeth. I know that Venser's dialogue is written with a slight medieval touch to it, and I know I've been saying, "That doesn't make sense!" a lot but... That doesn't make sense!

First of all... There was no indication that Koth was ever wondering how Elspeth and Koth met. And there was no indication that he wanted to ask Elspeth out of earshot of Koth. And there is no indication that he wanted to ask that question at that moment when they were just talking about seeing someone that had been tracking them. On top of that the actual words make no sense! It takes reading the answer to his question to be sure what it was he was asking.

But remember, this is the preferred version compared to reading the webcomic.


Karn

Was that Karn that Koth saw? Is that why we're having him see the silver creature and not Venser? But Karn is on his throne, stuck to his throne in the core of Mirrodin. The cards have shown it.


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