Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Brothers' War

Okay, I know I promised to review Code of the Woosters, but I had the opportunity to get some new books, and, rather than reread something (even by as great a master of the English language as Plum Wodehouse), I decided to put that book on hold and try reading my new books first. Sorry, but that’s life.

Anyway, the new book in question is new only in the sense that I haven’t read it before, as it has a copyright date of 2001. It’s The Brothers' War by Jeff Grubb. It’s in the Magic the Gathering series of books, based on the popular card game. I know what you’re thinking, “A book based on a card game? Ugh, sounds like pure drivel.”

Actually, I thought it was a good book. It tells the story of two brothers, Mishra and Urza, who come into possession of two halves of a mystic gem. Each one wants the other’s half, and, as brothers do, they squabble over it. Eventually, the squabbling turns to fighting, and the fighting turns to war. In the end, the war lays waste to an entire continent and unleashes an ancient evil on an unsuspecting world.

The thing I like most about the book is the character development. Mishra starts out as the more likable of the brothers; he’s friendly, talkative, and seems to take a genuine interest in people, but by the end of the book, he’s become an inhuman monstrosity. Urza, on the other hand, starts out as fairly reclusive and somewhat unlikable, but by the end of the book, he is revealed to genuinely care about people, and to want nothing more than to end his brother’s reign of terror.

There is another thing about the book that I find slightly interesting, its references to cards in the game. A casual reader who is unfamiliar with the game will miss it, but there are references to numerous cards that were current in the game when the book was written. We se ornithopters, Urza’s Avengers, Clay Statues, Yotian Soldiers, etc. This sort of thing makes the book more interesting to those who love the game.

If you’re a fan of Magic, or you just like good fantasy, this book is well worth looking at (and I suspect the others in the series are as well). I give it 4 yo-yos.

Coming soon, Wizard of the Grove by Tanya Huff.

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