Time Spiral: My Review

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Last time. (if anybody other than UnagonjisNakio bothered to read it) I gave my review on the Ravinica novles, now it's time for my review of Time Spiral. Unlike the last, this is only the review of the first book in the Time Spiral Cycle.


The following review contains spoilers of the book Time Spiral.


I have to be truthful here. I was very unimpressed with this book and with Scott McGough's writing style in general. I felt that McGough didn't describe scenes very well and I also felt that certain parts were starched out.
The first part in the workshop was OK and I liked it very much. It set the scene for later in the book and I found it very descriptive, but after that, I felt that it just go very uninteresting and, quite frankly, boring at parts.


I understand that it is about Teferi and his journey to re-intergrade Shiv and it sounds like a good plot, but the way it is presented is just bland. The first half of the book is nothing more than Teferi yabbering on and on about Shiv's return and about how he's gonna help it and then about Rahda chasing Greht into the mountains (that chase I found very awesome, to be honest.). And the last half is about how they are gonna "get to" Shiv, if you will, and then re-intergrade it.


Most of the book is about talking and less general adventure, which I don't mind, but they go over the same subjects over and over again it get repetitive and annoying. Not only that, but the book really only looked at Teferi, Jhoria, Radha and at times, Venser. But what about the other characters? Aprem? Dassene? Corus? Skive? Freaylse? Llanarch? Greht? I felt that they did not get enough time in the book. All that Aprem, Dassene, Corus, Skive and Llanach ever did was interject with a comment or two now than again, making them nothing more that cardboard cut-out side kicks. Hell, even Nico Bolas, who's appearance was a good surprise, was so under-descriptive. All that part was, was a one minute fight between Tefri and Bolas and then he goes away. Yeah... Very entertaining.


I honestly feel that the "cardboard cut-out sidekicks", as I refer to them now, were under used. When I read a book, I don't wanna be in Teferi's point-of-view all the time. I wanna know why Aprem, Dassese and the rest are along. Ok, I know why, but I don't know why, if you understand me. I wanna read from their point-of-view once in a while, so that I can really connect with them as characters. I mean, because of such a lack of description and dept to them, I felt nothing when Bolas killed Aprem. Nothing at all, and at that point I knew that I was bored when I don't care for the characters well being or when something bad happens to them. Aprem had no dept what so ever. He was nothing more than just a follower, but that is because I never once got to understand the book from his point-of-view, and I am meant to be sad when he dies? Meh.


Also, the description of their surrounding was never good. Like most of you I'm sure, I was imaging Teferi as he is in his actual card (link here gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details....) but half way though the book, he is described as wearing white robes and a funny hat? No, I'm sorry. I really hate that. I don't mind if you change some ones look, but not to tell the reader until they have read most of the book is really stupid. I have already formed a image of a character at the start as I read about them, why do you not just describe what they wear at the start?


However, the sub-plot about Radha chasing after Greht I found very awesome. I really liked it. But not once did the book shift to Grehts view and he just felt like a cardboard cut-out villain with no dept.


And the ending? Come on, could it have been any cheesier? Teferi shoots himself up at the rift and Jhoria is shouting back "Teferi, No! There has to be another way." That was her actual words. The whole exchange was nothing more that Teferi saying goodbye to her in the most mellow-dramatic way I have see, like something out of Gone with the Wind or Casablanca. I half expected Teferi to turn around and say "Don't worry, we'll always have Paris." ¬_¬;;


Anyway, I have written enough and I do understand that this is turning into a rant and I do apologise, but I honestly did not enjoy this book all that much and I think it could have been done so much better. I have read better books which I could not put down, but with Time Spiral, I was forcing myself to read it. Why not stop reading it, you ask? Well, I don't like to half-complete things. I dunno if that's my Autism or not, but that's the kinda person I am. If I do something, I finish it. I now have to read Planer Chaos and I'm not looking folward to it.


Anyway, tell me what you think of my review if you have read Time Spiral.

god... i just can't agree with you more on the ending... the cheesiness knew no bounds there
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god... i just can't agree with you more on the ending... the cheesiness knew no bounds there



Anything else? I would like mroe comments
I found the book entertaining, but shallow. Jhoira is such a compelling character, but the author never let her do anything. Radha was awesome, but Teferi wasn't all that compelling until the end. All-powerful beings just don't do it for me.
I found the book entertaining, but shallow. Jhoira is such a compelling character, but the author never let her do anything. Radha was awesome, but Teferi wasn't all that compelling until the end. All-powerful beings just don't do it for me.



I agree. I thought that Jhoria was written well... to an exstent, but I still feel that the book focsed too much on them and even then it still felt like I was a third-party reader which I ddin't enjoy. The chracters were just shown from the same perpective alot.
Oh, and thanks for looking deep into the flavour forums and finding this old thread. XD
It's been a while since I've read Time Spiral, but I agree with pretty much everything you said.  Overall, I liked the book—the writing itself wasn't too terrible—but it had some weaknesses.  I never really got interested in what Radha was up to both because it had little to do with the main plot and because her actions tended to be a little shallow.  I also recall a battle with some rift creatures that didn't really need to happen, and the more I think about it, the worse the ending seems, but it's still not the worst book I've read.
I never really got interested in what Radha was up to both because it had little to do with the main plot and because her actions tended to be a little shallow.



Again thats true. I think that her adventure could have been written better. Like you, I was not interested in what she was doing and it made me feel like I was just reading filler. I wanted to like what she was doing, but I could not. There was just no motivation there.

Now I'm curious to hear what you think about Planar Chaos.  It had some interesting parts, but overall I thought it was the weakest of the trilogy.

Radha really needed to be a different character for her subplot to have worked out.  She needed to be capable of depth of emotion and rational thought.  Her defiance could stay as long as it was tempered by these factors.  Then I would have had more of a reason to care about her story and then I would have enjoyed reading about her more.  Her subplot would have been worth the effort if it had developed her into a character worth having around during the events of the trilogy, but as it was, it wound up being rather pointless.

Are you implying something negative about Casablance? Casablanca is a classic. kids these days...

Anyways, the cardboard sidekicks weren't meant to be deep. They even go into this, they are "one use soldiers", completely expendable. That should have been an indication of their value to the story right there. When Bolas liquified Apprem, you weren't supposed to be sad about Apprem. It was a rather overt attempt to demonstrate how vast and powerful Bolas was.
The one use warriors didn't need extensive backstories or motivations. Why were they doing it? Because Jhoira asked them to and to help their fellow Shivans. But WHY were they doing it? It was what they had trained to do. The book wouldn't have gained anything if a portion of the book had been told from their POV. They were completely commited to their mission and that was that. Skive and Korus were a bit different, but that's something more covered in Planar Chaos (though not much.)
Llanach is another character whose motivations doesn't matter and Greht was set to be the villian, but a cheesy over the top villian. Which was supposed to be built off of a combination of what came before him in Bloodlines and how "cool" Radha was. It's something that a lot of McGough characters suffer from, the "cool character" syndrome.

Jhoira remains to be on my top five list of favorite characters, but she was hamstrung because of Teferi throughout the entire thing. Trust me, I agree with your assessment that all powerful characters wear out their interest quickly.

The setting suffered somewhat because it was more fully explored in other books. The key to that is that instead of developing it on its own, McGough just wanted to demonstrate how wasted the landscapes were. So as a consequence, you only got half a setting.

Radha's bits were simultaneously wasted book space and a breath of fresh air from the overly elaborate windbag plots that Teferi was constantly on about. They don't actually serve to accomplish anything except to demonstrate how "cool" Radha was. 

F*ck Venser. He's a magic rock. Replace any page of his with a magic rock and the book is unchanged.

Lastly, while I agree with the fact that we should have had a clearer picture of Teferi to begin with, this is as much you jumping to a conclusion without knowing a lot about how Teferi dressed in the past. Teferi wore the outfit he was described as wearing throughout much of the Invasion and appeared on a lot of cards in that outfit. It's the outfit most people who knew the character associated with him. The Teferi creature card wouldn't have been printed at this time. The art itself might not even have been made either. It all has to do with the publication schedules they dealt with.

Now I'm curious to hear what you think about Planar Chaos.  It had some interesting parts, but overall I thought it was the weakest of the trilogy.

Radha really needed to be a different character for her subplot to have worked out.  She needed to be capable of depth of emotion and rational thought.  Her defiance could stay as long as it was tempered by these factors.  Then I would have had more of a reason to care about her story and then I would have enjoyed reading about her more.  Her subplot would have been worth the effort if it had developed her into a character worth having around during the events of the trilogy, but as it was, it wound up being rather pointless.




Don't worry, I'm in the middle of reading Planer Chaos. But I'm so God-damn board with it, it will be ages before I review it. I have to finished it first. lol
Are you implying something negative about Casablance? Casablanca is a classic. kids these days...

No, actually I loved Casablanca. My point was I felt that the ending to Time Spiral was chessy it would have a line like the end of Casablanca in the same way as comednies somtimes parody the ending to classic movies like Casablanca.

Anyways, the cardboard sidekicks weren't meant to be deep. They even go into this, they are "one use soldiers", completely expendable. That should have been an indication of their value to the story right there. When Bolas liquified Apprem, you weren't supposed to be sad about Apprem. It was a rather overt attempt to demonstrate how vast and powerful Bolas was.

The one use warriors didn't need extensive backstories or motivations. Why were they doing it? Because Jhoira asked them to and to help their fellow Shivans. But WHY were they doing it? It was what they had trained to do. The book wouldn't have gained anything if a portion of the book had been told from their POV. They were completely commited to their mission and that was that. Skive and Korus were a bit different, but that's something more covered in Planar Chaos (though not much.)

I disagree. What's the point in writing about a chracter if they don't do much? Why just write somone in the book just to "be there and do stuff". I find it pointless. As the reader, I want to know why they are there. Sure, it's explained why they are, but not form their view and so they are nothing but cardboard cut outs. Also, I understand how powerfull Bolas is, but the killing of Aprem would have been had more impact if I liked Aprem, and I dind't because he's not written as a person we should care for. What's so awesome about killing a side kick?

Llanach is another character whose motivations doesn't matter and Greht was set to be the villian, but a cheesy over the top villian. Which was supposed to be built off of a combination of what came before him in Bloodlines and how "cool" Radha was. It's something that a lot of McGough characters suffer from, the "cool character" syndrome.

My point.

Jhoira remains to be on my top five list of favorite characters, but she was hamstrung because of Teferi throughout the entire thing. Trust me, I agree with your assessment that all powerful characters wear out their interest quickly.

True. I understand that they are Planeswalkers and all, but it still felt hollow.

The setting suffered somewhat because it was more fully explored in other books. The key to that is that instead of developing it on its own, McGough just wanted to demonstrate how wasted the landscapes were. So as a consequence, you only got half a setting.

OK, good point. But if he wanted to show the landscape wasted, he should have spoken about it more. The only one he did was Urbog, yet they planeshift all over the place. Why just Urbog?

Radha's bits were simultaneously wasted book space and a breath of fresh air from the overly elaborate windbag plots that Teferi was constantly on about. They don't actually serve to accomplish anything except to demonstrate how "cool" Radha was. 

I know, but it could have been good if the reader was shown why it's cool, rather than just saying it's cool. As a reader, I want to understand what Radha is doing, which is diffrent from being told what she is doing and why.

F*ck Venser. He's a magic rock. Replace any page of his with a magic rock and the book is unchanged.

lol.

Lastly, while I agree with the fact that we should have had a clearer picture of Teferi to begin with, this is as much you jumping to a conclusion without knowing a lot about how Teferi dressed in the past. Teferi wore the outfit he was described as wearing throughout much of the Invasion and appeared on a lot of cards in that outfit. It's the outfit most people who knew the character associated with him. The Teferi creature card wouldn't have been printed at this time. The art itself might not even have been made either. It all has to do with the publication schedules they dealt with.



But the authour should not assume that the reader has read the privious books. As a fact, I have not but even if I had, I would want an update. How do I know what he is wearing unless it is stated?

Anyway, thanks for giving your honest oppinion on my review. I apreciate it and I enjoyed reading it.

I disagree. What's the point in writing about a chracter if they don't do much? Why just write somone in the book just to "be there and do stuff". I find it pointless. As the reader, I want to know why they are there. Sure, it's explained why they are, but not form their view and so they are nothing but cardboard cut outs. Also, I understand how powerfull Bolas is, but the killing of Aprem would have been had more impact if I liked Aprem, and I dind't because he's not written as a person we should care for. What's so awesome about killing a side kick?


Some characters do only exist to "be there and do stuff" (to use your apt phrasing).  The author needs someone to fill a bit part, or to demonstrate something, or to provide a handy corpse, and a cardboard cutout is used instead of a more developed character.  Ideally these characters would be given some basic mannerisms and motivations, just enough characterization to make them seem real, yet not enough to detract from the main characters and needlessly complicate the plot, but this is not always the case.  A good writer with sufficient space will add enough to these characters to animate them and make them feel like more than just cutouts.  (Robert Jordan springs to mind here; all his characters feel like real people, even the unimportant ones.)

In the context of Time Spiral (and, perhaps, any recent Magic book), the author was probably pressed for time and space in his writing.  This doesn't leave much of an opportunity to flesh out side characters, so perhaps the use of cutouts was necessary.  I choose to see their character development as icing on the cake: I didn't really get to see who Aprem was (or should have been), but I did get to see Bolas show off his power, which was the main purpose of having Aprem around anyway.  There are also a few other issues with the book that I'd deal with before Aprem, but I digress.

One last salvo before I wrap it up.  I don't think that it's necessary to write something from a character's view in order to define that character realistically.  There are enough options with dialog, actions, and description to convey who a character is that we don't always have to see through their eyes to understand them.  Furthermore, perspective shifts are somewhat disruptive to the narrative, forcing the reader to readjust to the new viewpoint and changing the focus of the story.  The only ways I can think of where one for the minor characters would be beneficial to the story in Time Spiral would involve some serious plot stretching to have Aprem and company go off on their own, which isn't really crucial.  As for getting to know Aprem before his death, the emotional attachment would add some needless complexity to the plot.  If the reader feels impacted by something, they expect the characters to feel impacted by it as well, which in turn could seriously slow down the plot.  There's a trade-off: the more emotion you add to an event, the more you have to deal with it.

Anyway, that's just my two cents.

I disagree. What's the point in writing about a chracter if they don't do much? Why just write somone in the book just to "be there and do stuff". I find it pointless. As the reader, I want to know why they are there. Sure, it's explained why they are, but not form their view and so they are nothing but cardboard cut outs. Also, I understand how powerfull Bolas is, but the killing of Aprem would have been had more impact if I liked Aprem, and I dind't because he's not written as a person we should care for. What's so awesome about killing a side kick?


Some characters do only exist to "be there and do stuff" (to use your apt phrasing).  The author needs someone to fill a bit part, or to demonstrate something, or to provide a handy corpse, and a cardboard cutout is used instead of a more developed character.  Ideally these characters would be given some basic mannerisms and motivations, just enough characterization to make them seem real, yet not enough to detract from the main characters and needlessly complicate the plot, but this is not always the case.  A good writer with sufficient space will add enough to these characters to animate them and make them feel like more than just cutouts.  (Robert Jordan springs to mind here; all his characters feel like real people, even the unimportant ones.)

In the context of Time Spiral (and, perhaps, any recent Magic book), the author was probably pressed for time and space in his writing.  This doesn't leave much of an opportunity to flesh out side characters, so perhaps the use of cutouts was necessary.  I choose to see their character development as icing on the cake: I didn't really get to see who Aprem was (or should have been), but I did get to see Bolas show off his power, which was the main purpose of having Aprem around anyway.  There are also a few other issues with the book that I'd deal with first, but then, what is this thread for if not discussion?

One last salvo before I wrap it up.  I don't think that it's necessary to write something from a character's view in order to define that character realistically.  There are enough options with dialog, actions, and description to convey who a character is that we don't always have to see through their eyes to understand them.  Furthermore, perspective shifts are somewhat disruptive to the narrative, and the only ways I can think of where one would be beneficial would involve some serious plot stretching to have Aprem and company go off on their own.  As for getting to know Aprem before his death, the emotional attachment would add some needless complexity to the plot.  If the reader feels impacted by something, they expect the characters to feel impacted by it as well, which in turn could seriously slow down the plot.  There's a trade-off: the more emotion you add to an event, the more you have to deal with it.

Anyway, that's just my two cents.



I understand but I still dissagree. I don't like such chracters and I belive they show this "Hero Syndrome" even more. It's plainly obvious who would be killed off or who would do somthing which only tokens would do or only happen to.
Maybe he was short for time, but if the book is only shown from one or two peoples point of view, or even only form the main chracter's point of view, then the book seems one sided.
I just don't like reading about a person who is so obvioulsly there just to die or somthing. It makes the main charcters seem God-like... even if they are already Planeswalkers. It's the old Token Redshirt exsample from Star Trek. As a writer myself, I firmly belive that all charcters should be fleshed out to show that there is more to the world than just the main chracters.