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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 4

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

Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 4

No guild may control access to or travel upon any road, street, or thorough fare designated a part of the Great Arterial Network.
-Guildpact Amendment VII (the "Ledev Act")

23 ZUUN 9999 Z.C., EVENING

We open up with a half-elf ledev guard named Fonn with her trusty golden furred wolf steed Biracazir. (Think Tolsimir Wolfblood ). She travels the roads of Ravnica with an important duty. Guard and protect the loxodon Bayul, one of only three non-dryad members on the Selesnyan Conclave, as he makes his way to the City of Ravnica. (Wait huh? Isn't the whole planet the City of Ravnica?)

The friendly Bayul tries to nudge Fonn into opening up about her past. He's gets a bit, but not much. Her father was a wojek, her mother was a wojek guardian like she is, and both are "gone". (Hint: Always be suspicious when an author uses "gone" rather than "dead.") The conversation wasn't really going anywhere, but looks like there was no need to end it in an awkward silence because all of a sudden they're attacked from above!

Three pterro riders of the Gruul variety swoop on down. Fonn handles them with ease. In a few moments two are dead and one is left injured for questioning. But before they can find out anything, a Boros guard who has just arrived on scene yells out for Fonn to back up and drop her weapons until he can sort things out. Before she can even respond, a dagger appears in the guard's throat, thrown by a mysterious, dark-cloaked stranger at the mouth of an alley.

(Is that Dimir I smell?)

She chases after, and with some cunning and patience takes out the assassin, while wondering why a typical Gruul clan was getting outside help. Bayul walks on over to see if she's ok, and together they discover this dark cloaked figure isn't Dimir, but Rakdos.  (What?)  And one that is guarded against Bayul's telepathy.

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.

* * *

Let's get this straight

A shadowy 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 what appears to be an assassination of an important Selesnyan figure. A little odd that the Rakdos are involved since their guild doesn't appear until a later set, but fine, they're here.

But then for some reason the way he to help out his Gruul ally, he attacks the defenseless Boros guard when his back is turned to him, rather than take out the more obvious threat Fonn, or actually completing the task in eliminating Bayul himself!

If I wasn't told specifically told that he was working with the Gruul, I would have had no idea that the assassin and the Gruul clan members 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.

Ravnica, the Actual City?

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 in Star Wars. It's one giant plant entirely covered with city.

Ravnica is a world where civilization has utterly tamed nature. It is built with acre upon acre of buildings, streets, and bridges. Towers are the mountains, aqueducts the rivers, with only spotty parks and gardens to serve as meager forests. Though there may be occasional "vacant lots" or stretches of war-torn wasteland, Ravnica is otherwise a planet overflowing with the civilized masses. Its divisions are not so much nations, but towns and districts, defined by geography, culture, race (which includes everything from ogres to Vedalken), and the ten guilds that run the world.

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, compared to the implied open country/forests that she's lived most her life in. (Information inferred by Bayul's explanation that Gruul and Rakdos have a very antagonistic relationship to each other elsewhere on the plane, but in the city, all bets are off and collaboration isn't unheard of.)

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 and the assassin to run too, so maybe the surroundings just wasn't sufficiently conveyed.

I will be a bit disappointed if that promise of a planet wide-city isn't delivered.

Fonn, the Cardless

After the disappointment in the setting, 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. At least the books starts out with Agrus Kos. I can live just fine if not all the main characters happen to be playable. 

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