Magic The Gathering Review: "Dragon's Maze: The Secretist" part 3

A few months ago, you'll recall I wrote an article about The Secretist, parts 1 and 2. These two short novellas are the Magic: The Gathering lore novels for the first two Return to Ravnica sets. Last week, I received a copy of the conclusion to the series, Dragon's Maze. I loved the first two parts of this series, but how did the conclusion hold up? Read on to find out!

Dragon's Maze starts out where the previous book, Gatecrash, ended; the planeswalker Jace Beleren was trapped in an inescapable room with vampires about to bare down on him. Of course he manages to get out (by the way, I felt really dumb for not thinking of the obvious way that he could get out of this), and races to put together the final pieces of what the "Implicit Maze" is. Jace has to find out its importance to the ten guilds of Ravinca quickly, as the guilds are assembling their maze runners and preparing to run the maze, regardless of its outcome.

I really enjoyed this story. I sat down Sunday night before bed and started to read this story. Next thing I know, it's late and I've finished the book! It was so compelling that I could not put it down. The book really shows the hatred and disagreements that the ten guilds have for each other. It was building up in the other two books but really comes to a boil here. It begs to wonder how these people haven't killed themselves yet, and as your reading the book it appears as though they just might do it now! The mystery behind the maze unfolds in a way that makes complete sense and shows the great insight and wisdom that the creator had about the guilds when he created it.

With all of the good aspects that I enjoyed about the book, there are a few down points about the ending. First of all, the conclusion of the maze and what it brings about makes sense, but Jace's role in the post-maze Ravnica confuses me a bit. Even Jace brings it up as a question in the book, but it's never really answered other than a simple retort. The other issue I've had is one that went back to the other two stories as well. There is another planeswalker featured in the story, an Izzet Mage known as Ral Zarek. He is this powerful Mage capable of walking to other realities, yet through most of the book he begrudgingly follows orders of his guildmaster. Granted, his guildmaster is a dragon, but I just expected more out of the character and throughout the three stories his role felt very flat.

Regardless of those few little quirks, I still really loved this story. Ever since the beginning, the story drew me in and continued to hold me there until the tale was done. As for the format, I think that Wizards of the Coast's experiment into short novellas for their stories is a good step. For someone like me, who jumped into this storyline part of the way through, it made it really easy to get caught up on the story. If you a fan of Magic: The Gathering, I think you will enjoy the three parts of The Secretist, and I think you should pick them up and read them. Affiliate links for the Kindle versions are below if you wish to help support this site.

  Return to Ravnica: The Secretist, Part One

Gatecrash: The Secretist, Part Two

Dragon's Maze: The Secretist, Part Three

Magic The Gathering: Dragon's Maze Playthrough - OCDtv #25

Wizards of the Coast recently sent me a new Intro Deck from the latest Magic: The Gathering release: Dragon's Maze! Unlike the last video, I decided to let my friend Philip play the new deck while I continued to use the Intro Deck from Gatecrash.

It's Rakdos vs. Dimir in this Guild Showdown!

Review: "Gatecrash, The Secretist Part 2"

Before I start on this post, I realize that a few weeks back I mentioned that I was trying to avoid doing written blog reviews.  What I meant to say was that I am trying to not constrain myself to just writing review posts, I want to make sure that the blog posts I write are constantly entertaining and not pigeon holed into one type of writing.  Having said that, I was recently sent copies of Parts 1 and 2 of The Secretist by Wizards of the Coast, written by Doug Beyer.  The Secretist is the story that accompanies the current Magic: The Gathering set, Return to Ravinca.  If you're a fan of Magic or a big lover of fantasy books, you will want to click past the break for more.

For those of you who may not be that familiar with Magic; it is a collectible card game where you and your opponent take the form of powerful mages called "Planeswalkers" who duel each other.  Each year, Wizards of the Coasts releases a "block" of Magic cards.  This block of cards consists of 3 different sets that are released throughout the year.  Each one of the sets within the same block of cards take place in the same location, sharing a common theme and background story that weaves its way into the various characters, abilities, and flavor text.  This background story is typically expanded upon by a series of novels that are released around the same time as the individual sets.  So each year, a block will contain 3 sets of cards and 3 novels; one to go with each set.  This year, Wizards is experimenting with this formula a bit; releasing 3 shorter novellas throughout the year as ebooks.
The first part, Return to Ravnica, The Secretist Part 1, stars Jace Belerin, a Planeswalker who specializes in mind magic.  Jace has discovered an ancient code within many of the structures located in the world of Ravnica, a world consisting of one giant city rules by ten various guilds.  The code that Jace has discovered is believed to lead to an "Implicit Maze," which at the end of it is rumored to contain some sort of weapon.  In February, the second ebook in the series, Gatecrash, The Secretist Part 2, the discovery and subsequent exploration of the Implicit Maze has caused dissent between the ten guilds, causing their leaders to prepare for all out war.  Jace finds himself in the middle of the guilds' tensions and must find a way to discover what is really inside the Implicit Maze before war tears apart the entire world of Ravnica.
Up until this point, I had never read Magic's background novels.  Each year I see them, and am tempted to read them, but they always get placed low on my to-do list.  When I got the copies of "The Secretist", I was determined to finally get off of my butt and read these Magic stories.  I downloaded both parts for the Kindle app on my iPad and got to reading.  The availability of the stories as ebooks made it so much easier to obtain and read through the stories, and I really enjoyed that.  If Wizards of the Coast were to release all of their Magic stories as ebooks from now on, I could see myself reading more of them.  Especially because I loved this story so much.  The way that the author describes the various people and guilds, most of which are available as different cards in the Magic set, allowed me to get more immersed into the story and location.  The description of the different guilds battling it out is very vivid in its description; you can easily see in your mind the way that the characters cast their spells to attack and defend against their opponents.  I am more of a Science Fiction reader, but I have read a couple of different Fantasy books.  None of them have gone into as detail as these books on the magic and the way that the spells come into reality.  The fact that the card game is called "Magic: The Gathering" probably is a large reason why this is the case.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed these two books, and I am really excited for the final part of the story.  Not only that, but I am excited for the next time that I get to play the Magic card game, as I feel I will have more understanding as to why the cards are the way that they are and why certain mechanics behave in a particular way.  That, of course, is probably Wizards of the Coast's goal in publishing these Magic stories; and for this Magic Block, I feel that they have succeeded.
Gatecrash, The Secretist Part 2, along with the first part of the tale, can be found for $1.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.  If you are a big Magic: The Gathering fan, or someone who wants a different sort of fantasy tale, then I highly recommend that you pick up this book.  If you do, let me know what you think and if you are as excited as I am for the final part!

Magic: The Gathering - Gatecrash Set Preview (OCDtv #20)

Wizards of the Coast sent me some preview cards for the new Magic the Gathering set "Gatecrash" that just released here recently.  I thought, what better way to review and show you guys the cards than to film Philip and I dueling it out!  Using a new webcam that I've gotten recently, I was able to make that happen.

Let me know what you think!  I could modify this setup so that we could play other games this way as well - would you be interested in watching us play?  What sort of games would you want to see?