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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guildpact - Chapter 2

It's time to get back to the present. To a Ravnica after the adventures of Agrus Kos and friends. Book One revolved around our friendly neighborhood Boros wojek, looks like for Book Two we have an Orzhov advokist.

Guildpact - Chapter 2

The Ghostfaster: Why are the best Orzhov advokists women, Mubb?

Mubb the Hapless: If you have to ask, you've been dead too long, Ghostfather.

The Ghostfater: Insolent fool! To the pits with you!

Mubb the Hapless: Hooray! Torture again! You are too kind, Ghostfather.
-Rembic Wezescu,
The Amusing Punishment of Mubb the Hapless

14 PAUJAL 10012 Z.C.

The lovely cover girl, Teysa, Orzhov Scion , calls one Dr. Zlovol to the stand. Within the verity circle used as standard court magic, he cannot tell a lie, but he can be as vague as vague can be. Too bad he's up against the talented advokist Teysa, and with a masterful series of questions, tone, and body language, she gets both Zlovol to condemn himself and gets the jury on her side. If you're going to sign a contract where all recorded spiritual and physical byproducts of experimenting on live test subjects are to be turned over to the people funding your experiments, be sure you don't turn over only the ghosts and bodies of the Guilded. Guildless and test monkeys count too.

As the court is adjourned, and another win in her pocket, the highest ranking non-family member of the Karlov heirarchy has come with a message. Her uncle wants to see her. (Actually great-great-great-great grand uncle, and patriarch of the Karlov family.)

...Outside the courtroom...

It wasn't exactly close from the halls of justice to the Orzhov mansion district, so it was a good thing Teysa and her cane didn't have to walk far. Teleportation stations made the travel time take nearly no time at all... for those that could afford it. And what do you know, it turns out Teysa owns them.

On the way, Teysa does her best to get out what little information she can out of the tight-lipped Melisk. She can't get much, but she does get one word. Utvara.

(Yes, that Utvara. The same Utvara from Chapter 1, which is now known as a reclamation zone that had a plague problem.)

The Karlov mansion has quite the interesting guardian, the solifuge Pazapaptru who was working off a payment of servitude after the Orzhov helped him seek vengeance. It's been a while since she's been back to the Karlov mansion, but the stalwart guardian Pazapaptru is there as always. When you are required to walk beneath a giant solifuge that is working off a centuries long debt, you better be sure to be polite. The Orzhov helped him secure vengeance, and he wanted a lot of vengeance.

"Teysa. I am well and look forward to my freedom in precisely 2,281 years, nine months, eleven days, two hours, forty-four minutes, and... ten seconds. On that day I will destroy you all."

"I don't doubt you will, but I hope to be a ghost by then."

"That would be wise. Only one guest?"

"Yes," Teysa said. "One attendant guest. Don't eat him please. I look forward to your vengeance as always, old friend."

(Threats of vengeance. How cute. Can I have one?)

Inside, the gaudy nature of the place reveals that the district might have been better named the cathedral district and not the mansion district. But here she is. Home. And she's taken to the door to Uncle's room, flanked by two angels of despair, and the doorman Yigor. She gives him the standard threat and he lets her through.

Inside the large chamber is lined with thrulls and gargoyles, but it's Uncle she's here to see. And he does not look as good as ever. His weight isn't the problem, he's been alive for centuries, and that's bound to happen eventually. The Orzhov blood is something special that grants them longer life more than regular humans, but that makes them more susceptible to all manner of defects and mutations. Teysa had a limp and required a cane. Uncle on the other hand, his flesh was practically rotting away while he still lived.

They go through the regular pleasantries, but here's the main point. Teysa has done well in her few short years as an advokist. More than well in fact. She's pretty much a prodigy, and she's wasting her life as far as he's concerned. It was time she moved on to better things whether she wants to or not. The Utvara Valley is to be her inheritance. She's going to be a baroness. Just one thing, he has to die first.

* * *


I went through the courtroom sequence pretty quickly, but it was actually a rather long sequence. Actually it looks like pretty much all the chapters of this book are on the longer side. Same amount of pages yet only 18 chapters to this book. And much like how I enjoyed the Ravnican twist to medicine and police procedures in Ravnica: City of Guilds, I very much enjoyed the technical speak and techniques described in this courtroom. With all the courtroom dramas on TV it certainly felt familiar, yet it also felt distinctly like Ravnica. Good job all around.

Mansion District

I'm really not doing the descriptions justice. If you want that level of detail, well... that's what the books are for. One thing I loved about the description of this district was that it is a very vertical district. The buildings extend from the upper reaches of Ravnica to the lower levels in what is usually referred to as the undercity, but not in this particular district. The upper levels of these buildings bath in sunlight, but lower reaches are in perpetual shadow. That's the flavor of White and Black captured perfectly. In the architecture. That's so great.

I have yet to read the whole trilogy, but considering what I've seen so far, and considering that Herndon writes all three novels, regardless of the quality of the plot, if you want to get a good sense of Ravnican culture, if you want to see that brought to life this trilogy is worth picking up. (If you want an unbelievably story on top of that, well... we'll have to see about that.)

Tesya the Out-Thinker

Teysa is a great central character for the book to revolve around. We've switched to efficient police officer to brilliant thinker in Teysa. I don't think she'll be running over rooftops with that bad leg of hers, and since each book seems to be faithfully sticking to the associated Guilds from their corresponding sets, a near 180 on the protagonist sure is a great way to give this book it's own identity. The big question is how will these separate books come together as a trilogy.

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