Novel Guides: Magic Novels

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For quite a long time I was bothered by the lack of an official MTG novel guide. I was comforted by Werefrog's sticky and went about 'ahunting for books (back to this later).

I've just noticed the new, (relatively I suppose), subsection on the Wizards book site, in the Novel Guides section, called Magic Novels. Here I discover that the Magic storyline begins with... Time Spiral, apparently!

As it happened I have just missed an opportunity to buy The Shattered Alliance novel for less than $20 (List Price: $6.99, lowest price I can find now $33.49 - second hand of course), Great job with releasing The Gathering Dark with the Coldsnap Fat Pack without releasing the other books from this cycle, by the way.

Then I hop into the forums and read the post called "Throwing a bone to the Storyliners", in which people are raising this exact (almost) issue. My heart soars with hope as I see the almighty Brady_Dommermuth addressing... some random statement which isn't related to the topic (do you have some sort of script alerting you to these posts Brady?).

Now I have to believe one of three things - I have either got bad karma of Epic Proportions, or WotC simply don't care about trying to support the background story (which doesn't seem true with the release of The Gathering Dark and Roreca's Tale), or else that the attention span of WotC creative/brand staff is shorter than a grade school student's (nothing personal Brady, really).

I really don't think you intentionally let us fall in love with the idea of having a sunlit, disaster lacking plane work out, just to plunge it into perpetual darkness. (Which, by the way, is fine by me, but I do understand those whom this upsets and by whom I was asked to sound it off).

Sorry if this sounds a bit whiny but that Magic Novel Guide section was the proverbial straw!
I'm sorry, where is the Magic Novel Guide? The novel guides I see don't list a Magic one.
WotC simply don't care about trying to support the background story

you already know the answer, now you only need to embrace it
Abbot Pheldy OSM Mafia Awards 2010 Most Unique Playstyle Designer of Game of the Year 2010 Designer of Most Flavorful Game My achievements random hum
Welcome, my brother, to the "WFT are they thinking" club. But wait, it gets better. Wait until you actually read them and realize how bad they are. Then you'll really be one of us. Embrace our new brother!
*Remembers when this was called Novels & Storylines*

Eh, its not like the novels are much good anyway.
and still, I read everyone of them and enjoy most of them
Abbot Pheldy OSM Mafia Awards 2010 Most Unique Playstyle Designer of Game of the Year 2010 Designer of Most Flavorful Game My achievements random hum
Seriously, as a stand alone novel they're not so bad, the problem I usually find is that they forcefully create a cliffhanger for the next novel in the series that usually isn't addressed very well, or at all.

For example, my main problem with Lorwyn-Morningtide is that the main mystery and cliffhanger in Lorwyn was Who is Maralen? (since we all knew the Aurora was coming, and it was going to happen), but in Morningtide the issue was hardly acknowledged (sp?) at all, and the whole book was about What is that Aurora? which really wasn't issued in a decent way, and (like mentioned before) is something the reader knew (a change in the plane by yet unknown origin because no one ever talked about that!).

I seriously prefer the potential of future books focusing on short stories showing off the cultures of the plane and some of them related to each other.

If we ever revisit Ravnica, I want a short story written as the play of the Guildpact signing that was being represented in the first book.
An anthology would be a perfect fit for Ravnica, one story for each guild. The play could be a neutral "guildless" one.
The problem I have with the Lorwyn Cycle is that they left out a big step. As cliche as the comparison is, let's compare it to LotR. We have the Shire. Peaceful, serene, a representation of what England was like before the industrial revolution. Great, really nice, looks wonderful. Now we have war. War war war. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Well, that's not true, it's bloody good for defense contractors like myself. Here we see the tranquility of the Shire about to be obliterated by the horrors of war. Everything that's good and perfect in the world is in danger of becoming spoiled and ugly. Age-old tale, pops up about once every fifteen minutes. It happened with Lorwyn, right?

Not exactly. The thing that really bugs me about this storyline is that I just don't care. I haven't had a reason to care about the characters, and I certainly haven't had a reason to care about the setting. In LotR (or scores of other stories), you're really afraid that this beautiful setting is about to be spoiled forever and you're sad that this conflict threatens a serene land. We have that--sort of--with Lorwyn, but without any emotional attachment to Lorwyn, I really don't care that Shadowmoor has taken over. And when Shadowmoor inevitably returns to Lorwyn, I still won't care. I want to care, but I really don't feel like I've been given enough of a reason to care. The characters are boring, the setting is unimaginative, and the conflict is barely there.

So with respect to the following step-by-step guidelines ...
1. Create a peaceful setting.
2. Make the audience fall in love with said setting.
3. Threaten said setting with the antithesis of said setting.
4. Have a resolution that restores said setting.
... they left out part two.

Went to rambling too long, sorry about that.
They made point number 2 very well in Ravnica: you GOTTA love Kos. Just a policeman doing his underpaid job of protecting everything he can, because he likes the way everything is.

Plus, the first few chapters of him, and Borca doing they're daily patrolls was very nice.

They failed point number 2 in Mirrodin, TS, and Lorwyn, because they just shoved a mindless character that kicks everyone else just because they think they are in their way. The fact that Ms. Smash kick to the chin and you're dead, Ms. Smash's clone well, you are obviously far more powerful and skilled than me, but I'm so dumb I'll say stupid things as if I could ever beat you, and Mr. Smash 2 the only times I do anything worth mentioning, is off-panel and the reader just sees me being followed by mindless characters.

After the first few pages of all 3 of them, I just wanted them to die so I could enjoy the book.
They made point number 2 very well in Ravnica: you GOTTA love Kos. Just a policeman doing his underpaid job of protecting everything he can, because he likes the way everything is.

Agreed, completely. The Ravnica Cycle fits with the 4-step program (tee-hee), but in a roundabout way.

1. Not exactly a peaceful setting, but certainly an interesting one that we don't want to see become uninteresting.
2. Political scheming around every corner, guild factions at each others throat, and a lone cop stuck in the middle. It sounds like an episode of C.I.S., but, well, good whereas C.I.S. is excruciating.
3. Szadek is scheming behind the scenes and someone is scheming behind Szadek.
4. Agrus brings it all to an end, exposes the culprit, and restores the status quo, but with a few changes along the way, leaving room for a sequel cycle.

But something like Mirrodin?

1. Setting is, well, imaginative at times and less than at other times. Fumbled the ball on this one.
2. Why should I care that Memnarch wants to change everything? So far the entire setting is populated by know-nothings and 2D characters. Not exactly pulling at the heartstrings here.
3. Memnarch introduces conflict. How? By chasing people. Chase scenes are great, but not when they go on for 900 pages. And I still don't care about the people being chased.
4. Hokey resolution. Come on, Slobad Planeswalker? A villain with daddy issues? Karn being self-righteous even though he caused the conflict in the first place? Bad show.

So I'd agree that the Time Spiral Cycle, Mirrodin Cycle, and Lorwyn Cycle all fumble the ball on step one and drop it big time on step two.


Another rant: Where's the antagonist? How could you possibly have a generic run-of-the-mill fantasy saga without a generic run-of-the-mill baddie?

The way I see it (and contrasting opinions are always welcome), a fantasy tale needs to go one of two ways with regard to an antagonist:

1 - Clear-cut, well-defined bad guy. Again, let's use LotR as an example. We know by the first chapter that there was a bad guy. We know by the second chapter who the bad guy was. The climax of the storyline ends when the bad guy is defeated. This is not at all cliche, it just translates into good storytelling. This, certainly, wasn't the case with the Lorwyn Cycle as we still don't know who the bad guy is. So that brings us to the next possibility.

2 - Mystery baddie. Let's use ASoIaF here. We have a mystery baddie. We have EIGHTEEN mystery baddies actually, but it still works out nicely. This gets trickier, because you have to have the mystery baddie inflict harm (physical, mental, emotional) on the hero(es) without revealing who he/she/it is AND you have to make it interesting for the reader in order to make he/she interested in finding out who the baddie is. This is, kind of, the case with the Lorwyn Cycle. We don't know who it is. Great, no problem. Inflicted personal anguish on hero. Well, there's no identifying between the reader and the character because the world is so foreign, but we'll still go with yes. Am I interested in finding out who the bad guy is? Well, the setting is boring so I don't care that he's mucking with it. The characters are boring so I don't care that he's mucking with them. The conflict is boring so it's not like he's creating any interest there. I'm going to have to go with a resounding no on this one.

It's this second point that I found so bothersome with the Mirrodin Cycle. We have a mystery villain that the heroes have to unmask and then defeat. Great, no problem. But we know who the mystery villain is in the prologue of the first ****ing book! Honestly, whose call was that?! Let's reveal the villain and then spend the rest of the three books trying to find out who it is? Go go TEAM!
And of course, we can have both, and a Wheel of Time, where we have both of those, and antagonists who aren't bad guys but people with different views on how the conflict should be managed, that don't agree with the main character's way.
Ture, but I think that would still boil down into the two archtypes. We can have characters like Sephiroth who think what they're doing is right and, hell, it might even be the best way to go about things, but they're still antagonists. Despite how pure their motivations are, they still serve as the foil for the hero(es). Whereas in Lorwyn and (especially) Time Spiral, we don't have a main antagonists in plain sight or hiding behind a bush, and in Mirrodin where we had an antagonist who was hiding behind a bush but in plain sight.
Off the topic yet again!

I really get the feeling that WotC staff just post in disguise in order to swerve off the topic and address their issues of choice. (A little paranoid - I know, yet I can't quite shake the feeling).
Why does the Magic novel guide in the "Books" section still looks like Magic storyline begins with Time Spiral?

Oh and thanks for the spoilers people! Did I not mention at the beginning of this thread that I am in the process of trying to get a hold of the novels?

Yet another rant huh? Well I must say that the Kamigawa novels are simply great (currently finishing up Guardian).
I always suspected Eid was Brady in disguise.
I always suspected Eid was Brady in disguise.

Eid can't be - he/she's the only one who answers to the point.
I always suspected Eid was Brady in disguise.

You did not just go there! If anything, Brady is me in disguise.

Eid can't be - he/she's the only one who answers to the point.

That's true. I giggle every time I read one of Brady's Ask Wizards.

Q: "What happened to this character? Will he ever return? What about this one?"
A: "Read the book."
Q: "What happened to this character? Will he ever return? What about this one?"
A: "Read the book."

More like:
Q: Where can I get the book? Do I have to threaten people with a kill-o-zap gun?
A: I'm sad that japoniano wants to leave the Magic community, but we're very attentive to your posts! :D
Maybe one day he'll answer with a link to MtGSalvation's wiki :D