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Friday, May 20, 2011

Agents of Artifice - Prologue


Now begins my second chapter by chapter Read Through for mtgfiction.com. This site is intended to be a long term project, but will I actually successfully post up every single book? At one chapter a day that's over five or six years. Who can say. We'll just have to find out. But what I do know is that there is no way I would ever abandon this project with just Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn as the only complete Read Through on my site. Magic deserves better than that. (I am still angry, upset, and insulted by the fact that the book exists.)


Before we begin, a few reminders. My first set was Revised. I've read quite a few of the older books, but am pretty lacking in all the recent novels Magic has to offer. (Besides the obvious first Read Through) And be sure to check out the Primer to see the trailer for this book, an interview with the author, access the complete Prologue and Chapter 1 at the Official Site for your reading pleasure (Should I just call it the mothership like everyone else?), and more.

Alright Jace, don't disappoint me. Let's begin my first Read Through of not just my first Planeswalker novel but the first Planeswalker novel.

Agents of Artifice - Prologue

Through the place that wasn't, where time held no meaning, the figure walked.

(Alright. Not bad so far. Actually, pretty nice opening.)

Winds blew, and they were not winds. Without source, without direction, they tossed the outsider's hair one way, clothes another. They were the hot gusts of an arid desert, the frigid breath of the whirling blizzard. They bore the perfume of growing things, the rancid tang of death, and scents unknown to any sane world.

(Let that soak in. Let it wash away the uncleanliness still clinging from Read Through one.)

The ground rolled, and it was not ground. Shifting grays and black - not a color so much as a lack of color - formed a surface scarcely less treacherous than quicksand. Through it, deep beneath it, high above it in what could hardly be called a sky, snaked rivers of fire, of lightning, of liquid earth and jagged water, of raw mana. Colors unseen by human eyes flew overhead, refusing to congeal, soaring on wings of forgotten truths, borne aloft by stray gusts. Mountains of once and future worlds wept tears of sorrow for realities that never were, unchosen futures that no other would ever mourn.

Chaos. Impossibility. Insanity.

The Blind Eternities.

(One last brief pause. Like entering a hot bath, I need to slowly ease my way back in to a world where an author can actually write. It's like he's actually put some thought into how to string words together to convey a specific image and feeling that he wants his readers to experience.)

An unnamed and unknown planeswalker materializes on a desolate, dead world with no name and waits. Another planeswalker appears as expected. They confirm that an agreement that had been previously proposed is still on. A complex plan, but one that must be made, because there is a separate, less favorable, bargain that one of them had made with another that will be ending soon. And that person needs the other's help to avoid those dire circumstances.

There is one last thing that must be done if the plan is a go. A measure of protection needed to keep the "mind-speaker" from reading their thoughts. One planeswalker asks the other to remain still:

And then there was only the scream, breathless, endless, a scream that would have drowned even the roaring of the Blind Eternities... as the Other stretched forth inhuman fingers, reached into the planeswalker's mind and soul, and began, oh so carefully, to fold.

* * *

Better Cite Them Sources

First, let's get this out of the way, this is absolutely much more than I would usually quote. The prologue was short and I typed up 30% of it. But I quoted so much for a couple reasons:

First and foremost, like I said up above, the entire Prologue and Chapter 1 are available to be read by all at the mothership.

Second of all, Wizards had been searching for just the right author to kick off the new direction in Magic novels, they wanted to do it right, and so I seems only right on my part that you don't get a watered down intro to this book.

Now Let's Talk About it!

Fantastic! We're not given a face to picture in our mind's eye at first. We're just given description of wild, raw mana, and the act of planeswalking. There's no better way to kick off the first Planeswalker novel. And  the Prologue ended with quite a bang too.

My problem is with the part I didn't quote. It was actually rather hard to keep straight who was talking to whom. The speech patterns weren't unique enough or the paragraphs weren't arranged clear enough. We're not supposed to know who they are just yet (although it's not that hard to figure out with three planeswalkers named on the dust jacket summary.), and what the exact nature of their relationship is, nor what exactly they have planned and why. But I do think we were supposed to understand when it was the Walker talking, and when it was the Other.

But that's only a minor gripe at this point.

I'm sufficiently impressed and I expect good things beginning with Chapter 1 all the way to the Epilogue.

Closing Comment

Friend of the Blog Jazon returns!

Stick it to the man, man.

(No, seriously. This Wintermute guy sounds absolutely atrocious. Thanks for letting me just get away with reading the Guide to Phyrexia and remain unscathed.)

Look at that, someone actually read the rather long The State of MTG Fiction 2011 . Thanks for reading! I didn't know if anyone would actually get through the whole thing.

And I'm happy to help. I can't imagine my opinion of the book being controversial, and I think my position on how it the state of all magic fiction in general is sufficiently defended.

No one should pay money for that book. As much as I want Wizards to continue pumping out novels and converting their back catalog into the Kindle format, that book is an absolute Do Not Buy. Unless it's used as an example of how not to write, or you go into it like you go into a movie that is so tragically bad that it becomes funny, copies of that book should just be taken out back to the wood chipper.

If you want to read more about Mirrodin/New Phyrexia here's some other good reads (In a suggested reading order) beyond the Planeswalker's guide in case you missed them on the Official Site:

- The Human Cultures of Mirrodin
- The Non-Human Cultures of Mirrodin
- Phyrexians Uncovered and Thrun the Last Troll
- Webcomic - Dark Discoveries
- Reports from the Field
- Karn's Corrupted Conscience

All these links and more can also be found in the Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn Primer .

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