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Monday, August 1, 2011

Agents of Artifice Non-Spoiler Review



[Note: This is a non-spoiler review, but I consider information revealed in the cards to be free game, and to a slightly lesser degree information revealed on the mothership. Anything in the Primer is free game.]


Agents of Artifice. The first of the new line of Planeswalker Novels that would be centered around the Planeswalker cards rather than a set or block of Magic: The Gathering. a new era of Magic storytelling where the heroes now have their own


Prose
Score: 8/10

The quality of writing of this book is pretty fantastic. Marmell does a good job bringing to life both the various planes our heroes journey to and what's it's like to be within the Blind Eternities. Each action sequence is different than the last and focuses not just on what is physically happening, but often how our hero view the situation and how they think they can get out of it. Unfortunately, there are moments in the book where a single word or phrase can ruin a whole paragraph or an entire sequence. I never want to read that someone "folded like an origami stork" in a fantasy novel, unless in some strange circumstance it has been established that origami is an art form within that world and also happens to be called origami. Even then I would prefer it be named something else. Those moments of breaking the fourth wall can pull you out of what was up to that point an excellent scene.


Plot
Score: 9/10


This isn't a world saving mission here. This is the story of Jace Beleren . This is story of his transformation from a simple mind-reader living from one blackmail job to the next to living up to the potential that a man of such a rare talent can be. Whether he wants to or not. This is also the story of how he's not alone in wielding the ability to walk the planes of the multiverse, and the other planeswalkers that weave in and out of his life.

In this regard the book is executed brilliantly. Each moment builds up from the last in a believable fashion both in terms of his training as well as figuring out where his line in the sand is when it comes to morality. There are one or two moments that don't quite make sense, but they only just barely take away from the overall book.


Pacing
Score: 8/10

Unlike most Magic books, Marmell had thirty-five chapters to create his story and more important 400 pages. For reference most magic books get in at about 300 pages. This allowed Marmell room to breath and take his time to show us what takes to develop our hero in terms of strength of character and raw power, and show us what it takes to keep him under your thumb. The book does have a few excessively slow moments, but for the most the story moves at the right speed. The longer length of the book allows the readers to savor quiet moments, and it's the more and emotional journey that makes this book shine.


People
Score: 8/10


If you're a fan of Jace Beleren , Liliana Vess , and Tezzeret the Seeker , then you're in luck. The story revolves around these three and they're all portrayed masterfully, each with very clear motivations and flaws. They make sense, both within the story and according to the flavor of the color wheel. This is a story about power. If you want want morally pure heroes, then this is not the book for you. On the other hand the fact that the main characters aren't afraid to get their hands dirty when it makes sense considering their lot in life, it makes them just that more believable.


Pertinence
Score: 9/10


As the first Magic book to take place after the events of Time Spiral and the Mending, which reigned in the god-like power of the planeswalkers, this book absolutely succeeds at showing us what it is like to be a planeswalker in this new era. We're presented with people who are mages certainly, but one mages who could crush regular, everyday mages with one finger. Instead the only thing that makes them different is their ability to walk the Blind Eternities and walk from one world for another.

However, there one key moment in the book that seems to be a direct contradiction to the current Magic storyline. If I'm just missing something that I have yet to read that bridges that gap, I may return and adjust the score to be a perfect ten for this section.


OVERALL
Score: 8/10 (This is not an average.)

This was certainly a worthy entry into the the Magic Fiction lineup, and very much does justice to Magic's central figures and newest card type. The ability to stretch out and be restricted by character and not location like the Set or Block focused books allows for a great origin story of a novel, and certainly is a good proof of concept for the new line of novels. This book is meant to be a launching point into Magic fiction and it absolutely succeeds.


1 comment:

  1. I read it just now that Alara, let's see if it's even better than Alara, Alara was for me the best so far.

    ReplyDelete