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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Brothers' War - Chapter 29


Chapter 29 - Mana and Artifice

Harbin makes it safely back to friendly territory, and after some initial reports he goes straight to his father. He tells him he sent word to his mother and Tawnos when he arrived, but he wanted to come talk to Urza about his discovery.

He's found Resources for the taking to tip the balance in the war! There's an whole island with lush forests and a mountain rich in ore.

When his father doesn't share his excitement, he asks what's wrong.

"Harbin, what was it like flying back to Penregon?"

Harbin shrugged. "Mines, factories, farms, towers, outposts. Nothing out of the ordinary.

"Hmmm," said Urza. "Nothing out of the ordinary. Argive was once a land of rolling hills and manor-house estates. Did you know that?"

"I know the histories, sir," said Harbin.

Harbin says everything is the way it is because of Mishra's inventions. His groundbreakers and armageddon clocks that turn the sand to black glass. Urza points out that his own creations haven't been much better. The end result is the same. When Harbin asks him what's wrong, Urza smiles. Everyone seems to know when he's troubled. He tells his son that Richlau has died of old age, and when he was going through his papers he found letters to another old friend from long ago. Loran was telling Richlau about a new technique they've discovered, a way to grant flight without a machine, the ability to shatter and manipulate matter with just the mind.

Harbin tells him that's ridiculous. He can accept and believe that such a thing isn't possible without seeing proof that it does not exist. If his father hasn't invented it, that's proof enough.

Urza smiles again. He tells him he was just wondering that with so many resources gone... if he could just adapt this technique.... but no. His son is right. At the very least it would take years they don't have to master such a new branch in science. Harbin has done well with his discovery. Harbin then maneuvers his father into letting him lead the return expedition.

One last question though. Urza asks his son if he dreams.

Urza held up his glasses , and the muddied sunlight caught them. "I dreamed I had made a set of lenses that let me look into the human heart. To see to the core of its being. I used them to look at my brother, and there was only darkness. Only darkness in my brother's heart."


"Only darkness," repeated Urza, and sighed. "That is why we are going to bring this new island of yours into the war. Because we need to beat back that darkness."

...Mishra's workshop...

Mishra throws the plundered book from Terisia City against the wall and falls into another of his coughing fits. The fits were common now because of all the extra weight suppressing his lungs and all the smoke in the air.

Hajar tries to calm him down by telling him they'll eventually find something useful, but Mishra just rages on. The Gixians had promised him that the scholars found a great power, but all that's talked about in these books is nonsense that breaks all the underlying principles of artifice.

Hajar isn't the only person in the room though. The Brotherhood of Gix have taken up Ashnod's place, and through studying her research they've learned to graft metal onto their own bodies. The lead priest speaks up and says that while Ashnod viewed human bodies as a resource, they view it like a machine which should be constantly improved upon. Doing so makes it more holy... and more powerful.

When Harjar speaks out against this line of thought Mishra kicks him out of the throne room.

He wants to know more.

* * *

Light and Darkness

The book is quite blatant about which brother is the good guy and which one represents the darkness. That can be over done, but Grubb has done a good job presenting us with sprinklings of a third perspective that maybe both brothers are to be feared and that both brothers are destructive (Including Urza's own admission that this might be so in this very chapter) that maybe it's more a friendly shove than a smack to the face. The distant style of the book also helps to make this feel appropriate rather than cheesy. It's so clear that Urza's acceptance of Harbin is his salvation while Mishra's rejection of Hajar is his willingness to give up on humanity.

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