web site hit counter Arena - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Arena

Availability: Ready to download

The introduction of the hottest new game in 1993 has spawned the hottest new book since Dragonlance was launched. Magic: The Gathering trading card role-playing game system inaugurates a new world of magic and mystery. The book includes a coupon for two rare Magic trading cards that cannot be found anywhere else.


Compare

The introduction of the hottest new game in 1993 has spawned the hottest new book since Dragonlance was launched. Magic: The Gathering trading card role-playing game system inaugurates a new world of magic and mystery. The book includes a coupon for two rare Magic trading cards that cannot be found anywhere else.

30 review for Arena

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Wow - I was just surprised by this book popping up on my Goodreads screen. I was doing a review of The Final Day by William R. Forstchen, I saw that he wrote Arena as well. I haven't thought about this book in years. When I was in high school in the mid 90's, I was kind of obsessed with Magic: The Gathering. I had thousands of cards, played all the time, and bought several books in the series - which had just started coming out. While it has been years since I played and read this book, I rememb Wow - I was just surprised by this book popping up on my Goodreads screen. I was doing a review of The Final Day by William R. Forstchen, I saw that he wrote Arena as well. I haven't thought about this book in years. When I was in high school in the mid 90's, I was kind of obsessed with Magic: The Gathering. I had thousands of cards, played all the time, and bought several books in the series - which had just started coming out. While it has been years since I played and read this book, I remember both the game and this book fondly. Very cool to be surprised by the same author writing a totally different kind of book years later.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex Matzkeit

    As a 12 year-old, when "Magic" was the center of my world, I was in love with this book. Re-reading it now, 20 years later, I cannot summon (get it?) the same enthusiasm. The characters are paper-thin and the plot is pretty pulpy, inspired - as several reviews have pointed out - by the timeless tale of Yojimbo. It might make a decent dumb movie. There is one thing it has going for it, though, which sets it apart from most game tie-in novels. Rather than simply explore the fictional world the gam As a 12 year-old, when "Magic" was the center of my world, I was in love with this book. Re-reading it now, 20 years later, I cannot summon (get it?) the same enthusiasm. The characters are paper-thin and the plot is pretty pulpy, inspired - as several reviews have pointed out - by the timeless tale of Yojimbo. It might make a decent dumb movie. There is one thing it has going for it, though, which sets it apart from most game tie-in novels. Rather than simply explore the fictional world the game is set in with any old story, "Arena" actually tries to recreate the experience of playing "Magic" games as a big part of its setting. The exhilaration of reading about characters actually fighting each other in much the same way the game was played in the early days - when it wasn't yet as specialized as today - is still incredibly strong. I would love to hear the story of how Forstchen conceived of these magical fights one day. They are clearly based on actually studying the card mechanics of the basic set. Then again, Forstchen went on to write political thrillers, work with Newt Gingrich and these days is spewing hate against Muslims on Twitter. With that in mind, it's hard not to see the weird nihilistic bent of the novel, with a strange disdain for humanity and "the mob". When the protagonist's plan is to incite everyone to slaughter each other in droves in order to revert things to "the old ways", it makes you wonder, what his creator's idea of world politics must look like.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Engineous

    It's... readable. The melodramatic emotional fireworks are very annoying, but fortunately the author partitioned most of them off into small one- to two-page segments. Hammen somehow manages to be both out-of-character and cliched at the same time (what was with him unconsciously transferring to calling Garth "Master"?), the background characters (and women, too) are cardboard, Garth (hero/main character) is hypocritical but mercifully bland in this respect, the villains are annoying stereotypes It's... readable. The melodramatic emotional fireworks are very annoying, but fortunately the author partitioned most of them off into small one- to two-page segments. Hammen somehow manages to be both out-of-character and cliched at the same time (what was with him unconsciously transferring to calling Garth "Master"?), the background characters (and women, too) are cardboard, Garth (hero/main character) is hypocritical but mercifully bland in this respect, the villains are annoying stereotypes ("Varnel" has a weakness for women and carnal pursuits; "Ravelth" is unrealistically obsessed with wealth; Kirlen fears death more than anything; Tulan apparently has compulsive overeating disorder and is very rotund). Don't worry about Kirlen so much; women are pretty much nonexistent in this novel in any meaningful way. It's traditional high fantasy; Fortschen usually chooses to remain outside of the realm of flashbacks or the showing of inner emotional development, which is probably a blessing, since the few times he slips with this are quite jarring. The way he avoids backstory or emotional reactions is similarly relieving, because he can't manage to be consistent with it, and it's annoying to have to think of the author as The Emotionally Retarded Man. This was apparently one of the first Magic: the Gathering series books, though, so it's not as bad as it seems. Again, it is readable. The major point that I kept getting perturbed about was Fortschen's lack of understanding, or talent, for logistics. Within the city this novel is set, there are no cars, and carriages are used rarely, with the first mention placed firmly in the middle of the book. Presumably, they have old-style (small) streets and walkways. And yet, at some point during a battle scene, there is a mention of (paraphrased) "thousands tried to flee while thousands tried to push forward to watch the fun" and I don't think he actually understands that this would be literally impossible in the physical specifications he implies and puts forth. Another point that irritated me to the point of tics was his description of Benalian society. Although I understand that Hammen is supposed to be a socially-inept, chauvinistic failure of a man (and Turquoise member, the reveal of which was neither revealing nor surprising, but rather insulting), I wanted to leap into the pages and start beating the shit out of him for how he spoke to Norreen. Aside from that, however, the Benalian societal dynamics were a farce described by an unimaginative capitalist man who doesn't know the definition of "privilege". The reasons are thus: 1) cyclical power castes generally prevent power-madness, rather than encouraging them as Fortschen suggests; 2) cultures that allow/encourage women to become warriors are not rape-happy, ever; 3) cultures that allow/encourage both sexes to become warriors don't have the kind of sexual inequality that Fortschen asserts with the line, "Women of the lowest caste cannot refuse the demands to mate with one of the highest caste." This would only make sense if a) the power system were not cyclical (faced with the possibility/certainty of being on the receiving end, people are far more liberal and sympathetic than they would otherwise be) and/or b) it were not limited to sex or sexual orientation. That is to say, if women could do the same to men, women to women, men to men, etc. However, the most subtle annoyance was also the only one that could be considered in any way constant: Fortschen's use of "the mob". This "the mob" is everyone in the city that is not one of the named characters or fighters, and it serves as a thinly-veiled excuse for never - ever - characterizing or individuating a single blessed one of them. "The mob" is a forest of cardboard, with a laugh-track attached to supply danger, moral disgust (from the reader), plot diversions or whatever else is needed to board up the holes. Also, as the bit with Garth dogged by "the mob" when trying to get away from the Grand Master's army so he doesn't get fucking killed shows, "the mob" is merely a group of 500,000 hyperactive Downies with no care aids - or shotguns, because I sincerely wanted to jump in and force Garth to start frying the assholes - in sight. So, in other words, William Fortschen doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. But... it's readable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ross

    As mentioned elsewhere, this story is something like Yojimbo or the more recent Last Man Standing. I found this in my parents attic the other day, and I read the reviews here so I decided to read it. I had never read it, even though I bought it when it came out (copyrighted 1994). The last page was cut where the coupon for the two free cards was, but I think I got the last line of the book. This book was written not necessarily before Magic had a story line associated with it, but before they put As mentioned elsewhere, this story is something like Yojimbo or the more recent Last Man Standing. I found this in my parents attic the other day, and I read the reviews here so I decided to read it. I had never read it, even though I bought it when it came out (copyrighted 1994). The last page was cut where the coupon for the two free cards was, but I think I got the last line of the book. This book was written not necessarily before Magic had a story line associated with it, but before they put so much of the story onto the flavor text of the cards and wrote the books to accompany each set as it is released. The way mana and spells and planeswalkers seemed a little inconsistent after having read a considerable amount of the more recent novels, and sometimes the description of the spells and mana felt a little cheesy, but all in all a very good read I thought. My father read this book some time ago, and having never played Magic or understanding anything about it he said he enjoyed it and planned on reading it again. So I guess people who like fantasy but are not familiar with Magic might enjoy this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William Dalphin

    Take Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (one man plays two rival groups against each other), now put it in a fantasy setting based off the Magic: The Gathering cards, turn the two rival groups into four (or five), and you've got Arena. It's a clever tale of one man's revenge against an entire city run by magical guilds that fight each other once a year in a spectacle called "Festival". I don't want to give away anything, but the treachery and twists make this a fun read. It's a guilty pleasure of mine. Take Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (one man plays two rival groups against each other), now put it in a fantasy setting based off the Magic: The Gathering cards, turn the two rival groups into four (or five), and you've got Arena. It's a clever tale of one man's revenge against an entire city run by magical guilds that fight each other once a year in a spectacle called "Festival". I don't want to give away anything, but the treachery and twists make this a fun read. It's a guilty pleasure of mine.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This is not imaginative, ground-breaking fantasy nor does it claim to be. For me, this is a five star read because it knows what it is and the author indulges in every word of it. I don't always need or want to read nuanced, complicated novels with twists and turns that keep me guessing. This novel was an enjoyable, quick fantasy story that is well told and has plenty of action. This is just what I wanted from it. This is not imaginative, ground-breaking fantasy nor does it claim to be. For me, this is a five star read because it knows what it is and the author indulges in every word of it. I don't always need or want to read nuanced, complicated novels with twists and turns that keep me guessing. This novel was an enjoyable, quick fantasy story that is well told and has plenty of action. This is just what I wanted from it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Yune

    I think one of these stars is for nostalgia, but I do still find the book reliably entertaining after over a decade and quite accessible even for someone who doesn't know anything about Magic: The Gathering (that said, some quirks of the magic system will make more sense if you're familiar with the card game). This isn't the most original story, but it doesn't pretend to break new ground -- it just romps with fierce joy over the old stuff. So you have a mysterious one-eyed stranger show up in tow I think one of these stars is for nostalgia, but I do still find the book reliably entertaining after over a decade and quite accessible even for someone who doesn't know anything about Magic: The Gathering (that said, some quirks of the magic system will make more sense if you're familiar with the card game). This isn't the most original story, but it doesn't pretend to break new ground -- it just romps with fierce joy over the old stuff. So you have a mysterious one-eyed stranger show up in town just before the Festival, when fighters (although they mostly rely on magic) from four houses battle each other until one is declared the best, in view of bloodthirsty crowds. Garth One-eye gains enough notoriety in illegal street duels to join a house and therefore the Festival. And although he doesn't hesitate to lie, bribe, or kill, he does possess a peculiar sense of honor -- and, it's increasingly clear, a mission: to win the Festival, and prove himself worthy as an apprentice to the god who strides between worlds. He'll make plenty of enemies along the way (almost as though checking them off a list), and gains a few amusing allies. The voice nearly veers on modern at times, but I think that's what's responsible for a great deal of the humor:...he made sure that his cowl still concealed his face so that he looked almost like a holy dervish of the Muronian order. The Muronians made their livelihood by passing out tracts promising that the entire universe was doomed and generally annoying the rest of the world so that some people wished it would end just to get rid of them. Several city warriors slowed as they approached Garth, as if they recognized him. He reached into his pocket as if to pull out a tract and they quickly hurried on. "I like this disguise," Garth said.And the writing isn't sophisticated by any means, but it's quite serviceable. If you're looking for an unapologetic fantasy with battle and intrigue but not too much grit, this might do you well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Youngblood

    In my experience, early books from the Magic: The Gathering Collectible Card Game series of novels fell into one of two categories: those that were so entrenched in the game aspects of the CCG that their worlds suffered, and those that used the idiom of the CCG to build up a complete world from the flimsy structure presented by the cards themselves. This book falls into the latter category. The author created a relatively complete world, replete with customs and a mythos to support it. Even thoug In my experience, early books from the Magic: The Gathering Collectible Card Game series of novels fell into one of two categories: those that were so entrenched in the game aspects of the CCG that their worlds suffered, and those that used the idiom of the CCG to build up a complete world from the flimsy structure presented by the cards themselves. This book falls into the latter category. The author created a relatively complete world, replete with customs and a mythos to support it. Even though the book itself is little more than fluff with an adventure-film plot that can, at times, seem rushed, it is still very entertaining. I would have liked to have seen the protagonist's actions against his enemies play out in a somewhat more subtle and devious manner, but I can guess that a page-count limit or publishing deadline would prevent something like that from happening. As a result, Garth One-eye's darting from place to place seems rushed and unplanned, but still manages to sustain the action relatively well. Overall, I recommend this book for people who are familiar with the M:TG CCG series, since it seems to build a world while using the cards as tools, rather than being locked into building the world around the cards. Either way, this book is a decent read, but don't really expect anything new.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sparhawk

    Based on the popular card game of the same name, this was the first book written using the MtG world as a backdrop. The main character is a mysterious, one-eyed magic user by the name of Garth One-Eye. He has to come to an annual festival where magic users of many different houses compete for honor, glory, and the right to walk alongside a powerful Walker who promises that all will be revealed to the winner of the tournament. While some people who have never played the card game before might scoff Based on the popular card game of the same name, this was the first book written using the MtG world as a backdrop. The main character is a mysterious, one-eyed magic user by the name of Garth One-Eye. He has to come to an annual festival where magic users of many different houses compete for honor, glory, and the right to walk alongside a powerful Walker who promises that all will be revealed to the winner of the tournament. While some people who have never played the card game before might scoff at the quality of books written in this style; the core plot, characters, and themes of this book are very well told. I later realized that it may borrow some themes from ancient roman times, but this did not take away from the story in any way. This is probably my favorite book. Everyone I've lend it to has loved it as well. It's cheap as heck too. ;)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sherrey Allsup

    If you have played Magic: The Gathering, as I have, then it is truly a great tale and a fresh take on the game! A simpler read than I am used to and one of much conflict, but still a wonderful read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karlie Nyte

    I know this book is far from awesome, however, I still enjoy reading it. I get such a kick out of when a spell is cast, and I know what card they are referring to. I really think that the MtG novels got the short end of the stick, when thinking about how people view them. They are entertaining. And for me, the wife of a (former) avid Magic player, they offered me a way to be involved in the game, as I did not play that often, insight into the characters and places that were being battled over on I know this book is far from awesome, however, I still enjoy reading it. I get such a kick out of when a spell is cast, and I know what card they are referring to. I really think that the MtG novels got the short end of the stick, when thinking about how people view them. They are entertaining. And for me, the wife of a (former) avid Magic player, they offered me a way to be involved in the game, as I did not play that often, insight into the characters and places that were being battled over on the table top.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    The writing style of this book is not really very good but the story itself is interesting. At the time the book came out, there is still a lack of deep lore regarding the world of Magic: the Gathering so this author pulls through and managed to realise an entire city. At times, it does try a little too hard to tie the magic back to the game system and comes across as unrealistic. If you're a fan of the game, this book is a good read. The writing style of this book is not really very good but the story itself is interesting. At the time the book came out, there is still a lack of deep lore regarding the world of Magic: the Gathering so this author pulls through and managed to realise an entire city. At times, it does try a little too hard to tie the magic back to the game system and comes across as unrealistic. If you're a fan of the game, this book is a good read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Luke Sonnier

    No extensive review or anything, but this is one of my all time favorite books. I'm not sure that there is anything all that great about it, but being a fan of both fantasy and Magic: The Gathering, the story of Garth One-Eye blew me away. I read this for the first time as a freshman in high school back in 1994 and have re-read it so many times since that I've lost count. No extensive review or anything, but this is one of my all time favorite books. I'm not sure that there is anything all that great about it, but being a fan of both fantasy and Magic: The Gathering, the story of Garth One-Eye blew me away. I read this for the first time as a freshman in high school back in 1994 and have re-read it so many times since that I've lost count.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alotor

    I read this book a long, long time ago (more than 15 years or so)in that time i was an avid Magic: The Gathering player so this but i didn't have much hope for this book. I don't remember the argument very well, but i remember that i loved this book. I think it's one of the main causes for me to enjoy fantasy so much. That well deserves 5 stars :D I read this book a long, long time ago (more than 15 years or so)in that time i was an avid Magic: The Gathering player so this but i didn't have much hope for this book. I don't remember the argument very well, but i remember that i loved this book. I think it's one of the main causes for me to enjoy fantasy so much. That well deserves 5 stars :D

  15. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    Believe it or not but this is one of my favorite books! Pure entertainment and I have re-read it atleast half a dozen times, a crazy world with tons of fantastic beasts and cool battles! I wouldn't recommend it to many people but for me it doesn't get any better than this entertainment! Believe it or not but this is one of my favorite books! Pure entertainment and I have re-read it atleast half a dozen times, a crazy world with tons of fantastic beasts and cool battles! I wouldn't recommend it to many people but for me it doesn't get any better than this entertainment!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tric

    I had a few other books based on Magic: The Gathering, but this is the only one I kept after my big move. For whatever reason, the story in this one is really fantastic and always makes me read it in one sitting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Ziegler

    Read this when I was really into playing Magic and reading about it. God, that was over 10 years ago. Man I am old. Anyway, this book was a lot of fun and probably the best Magic based book there was.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    This is a great fantasy book.. When you start reading it, you may find yourself hard to put it down. Like the magic itself, it'll consume you. This is a great fantasy book.. When you start reading it, you may find yourself hard to put it down. Like the magic itself, it'll consume you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is, far and away, the best MTG book I have read. They go down hill so fast, I am not sure I'll pick up any more. This is, far and away, the best MTG book I have read. They go down hill so fast, I am not sure I'll pick up any more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cheyenne

    I didn't know what to expect from a 25-year-old book based on a card game, but as a casual fan of MTG who has loved some media tie-in novels for other franchises (ahem, Star Wars) in the past, I had hoped this would be good. For the most part, it disappointed. The plot itself wasn't inherently bad, but the author chose to remain completely detached from the protagonist's internal monologue throughout almost the entire book. He did this because many of the characters had secret pasts, and he didn I didn't know what to expect from a 25-year-old book based on a card game, but as a casual fan of MTG who has loved some media tie-in novels for other franchises (ahem, Star Wars) in the past, I had hoped this would be good. For the most part, it disappointed. The plot itself wasn't inherently bad, but the author chose to remain completely detached from the protagonist's internal monologue throughout almost the entire book. He did this because many of the characters had secret pasts, and he didn't want the reader to find out those secrets until the end, but to me, the payoff of learning secrets I could have guessed with a fair amount of accuracy from about halfway through the book wasn't worth feeling completely distanced from and unable to anchor myself in the world. I would have preferred the author take a different angle, where we as readers knew everything from the beginning and instead followed the protagonist through an emotional roller coaster of attempted revenge instead. Of course, the protagonist was also written as a veritable Gary Stu, practically unstoppable no matter who he was set up against, so there probably wouldn't have been much emotional conflict in that tale, either; just success after success. A more personal complaint with this book that I had was the detail that every fight scene seemed to get. I should have foreseen this in a book version of a card game about magical fighting, but in the majority of the battles, fighting is described in a fairly blow-by-blow manner, which tends to bore me in general in any book. I did perk up a little bit when the Festival itself started because I do like game and tournament elements in books, but it wasn't really enough to completely save the novel for me. Another strange thing about this book was the way it treated women. When the first female character appeared on the page, I was excited, because it turned out that women of this world could be strong fighters and warriors, and men and women fought without any notable distinction between them. This isn't something I see every day in books from the nineties, so I was immediately impressed and excited. Even today, a lot of fantasy writers don't do this. However, to my dismay, as I read further I discovered that the cultures described in this book also had a lot of disturbing views surrounding women. Sexual harrassment against the two main female characters by one of the main male characters was played for laughs, rape potions and rules about men having sex with whatever women they wanted were commonplace in the realm and not looked down upon at all that I could tell, and some characters seemed to treat women like property. None of these topics were the main focus of the book, but they were dropped into the background casually and without any signs that the author knew how disturbing or gross they were. It was all a bit confusing, and turned me off from this writer's work quite a bit. The ending of one of the secondary characters was also left a little too open-ended, in that she simply disappeared and no explanation or closure was given. If this were a series all written by the same author, I would be fine with this, assuming it would come up again in the next installment, but I'm taking this to be a standalone, which left that decision a bit disappointing. Long story short, if William R. Forstchen wrote the rest of the MTG books, I wouldn't be continuing with them, but because I'd already picked up 6 (thankfully, for a very low price) I will give the next one a chance and hope that its author did better.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott Johnson

    This felt like two books, or rather a short story someone said, "Hey, stretch that into a paperback." The second half was great, as far as these go (I've read way worse Star Trek and Star Wars EU novels at any rate). It was really entertaining. I did feel like the protagonist was a bit invincible and wasn't really risking much, but what do you expect from a binary good vs. evil plot. The action in the arena was entertaining, though a lot of that may have derived from reference after reference to a This felt like two books, or rather a short story someone said, "Hey, stretch that into a paperback." The second half was great, as far as these go (I've read way worse Star Trek and Star Wars EU novels at any rate). It was really entertaining. I did feel like the protagonist was a bit invincible and wasn't really risking much, but what do you expect from a binary good vs. evil plot. The action in the arena was entertaining, though a lot of that may have derived from reference after reference to actual cards in the game (Wall of Wood, Psionic Blast, Circle of Protection, Craw Wurm, Lord of the Pit, Llanowar Elves, and so on...). The author was almost slavishly literal in his depiction of these as spells, and it was quaint. It's very clear this was THE first novel in this multiverse. There was very cursory establishment of things that, reading this in 2017, I know were changed years later. It was really weird reading of spells as things contained in amulets that were passed around so easily (and evidently required no practice to master?). But that did amuse me since this was printed before Ante was abolished in the game. The first half of the book was just....boring. At first I was struggling to figure out who the hell everyone was and why I should care. It suffers from a problem in a lot of fantasy I've read by so-so authors does: throwing way too many fantastical weird names at you in quick succession in lieu of actual deep development of the world. It makes it hard to get invested when I just don't see why I should care to push through to learn more. It was predictable. Our protagonist was an unknown badass who I didn't worry at any point would fail in his not-so-mysterious hidden agenda. He joined a house, stirred up some shit, then joined its rival....at which point I predicted (correctly) that we would see this two more times as he somehow joined all four houses prior to the Festival. Unfortunately none of that led to any greater understanding of this world that I didn't already have, and felt like just going through the motions. I'm just really critical of things like this because I can see a much better book here, but what we got was mediocre. Paperback tie-in novels are always assumed to be garbage, but I've read enough of them to discover a few well-written gems and to know this doesn't have to be true. You can write about the worst, most ridiculous premise possible and still turn it into a well-written story if you try. Overall, though, this was entertaining, if you can just push through the first 150 pages or so.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Warren Snider

    A decent heist story that held up a lot better than I thought it would but had some problematic elements (the ending in particular is a mess). If you played Magic: the Gathering during the early 90s, I'd bump it to 4* for nostalgia factor. Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game originally released in 1993 but which is still going strong in 2020. Today, there's a huge amount of lore and backstory but when it was first released it was little more than stock fantasy creatures and magic spel A decent heist story that held up a lot better than I thought it would but had some problematic elements (the ending in particular is a mess). If you played Magic: the Gathering during the early 90s, I'd bump it to 4* for nostalgia factor. Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game originally released in 1993 but which is still going strong in 2020. Today, there's a huge amount of lore and backstory but when it was first released it was little more than stock fantasy creatures and magic spells tied together by the thinnest of plots: you and your opponent are extra-dimensional wizards of incredible power called Planeswalkers engaged in a magical duel. When they game took off they decided to make some novels, hired William R. Forstchen (who previously had only written a mid-80s post-apocalyptic fantasy trilogy and some Civil War fiction) to do one and Clayton Emery (who had pseudonymously done a duology for a roleplaying system called Shadow World around the same time) to do a trilogy that loosely ties together, tossed them a pile of cards and told them to have at it (I'm assuming). As such, and having not read the books in ~20 years, I expected very little but this was actually pretty decent. Arena takes place in the city of Estark. Previously, every year the five houses of magic would gather in Estark once per year to test their skills against each other in friendly competition. That all changed 20 years ago when four of the houses allied with the Grandmaster of the arena to cast down the house of Oor-tael so that the Grandmaster could use its mana stores to pierce the veil between worlds and become a planeswalker. Now the festivals have become ever more bloody duels to the death

  23. 5 out of 5

    Francisco

    This was the first Magic The Gathering tie-in novel written, back in the early days of the game, long before it had a well developed world, mythology or logic to it and was little more than a card game with a fantasy theme. This is both a blessing and a curse for the novel, a curse because it has since become non-canonical and the world it represents isn't really matching the world of Dominaria where later stories would be set. Still, you can find some commonalities with names and places from th This was the first Magic The Gathering tie-in novel written, back in the early days of the game, long before it had a well developed world, mythology or logic to it and was little more than a card game with a fantasy theme. This is both a blessing and a curse for the novel, a curse because it has since become non-canonical and the world it represents isn't really matching the world of Dominaria where later stories would be set. Still, you can find some commonalities with names and places from the first few game expansions. On the other hand this is also the saving grace of the book, it's completely free of the constraints of a pre-constructed world, the writer clearly looked at cards for inspiration and knew enough of the game mechanics to adapt them into a pretty original magical system in the universe of the novel, but there's a freedom here which would have been lost later. The plot isn't that original. it's the classic revenge story of the man who returns to a city after being wronged as a child to destroy those who hurt him and his family. It's a classic plot but the cool things in the novel are in the way the author creates a world and a magical system around the game, sorcerers carry spells inside pouches and fight each other in deadly competitions in order to win spells through bets or by stealing the pouches off the dead bodies. The spells are recognizable from Magic: Lightning Bolts, Pit Lords, Llanowar Elves, Counterspells and so on. The secondary cast of characters is pretty great as is the way in which the novel only slowly shows you who's who and why they are doing what they do. Not a classic for the ages but a lot of fun.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    You know sometimes when you read a book and you're 16 at the time, you think the book is great; then you read it when you're an adult and it's not that great? Well luckily for me, this book held up to my personal test of time! I really enjoyed it from start to finish, from a nostalgic point of view and a pure entertainment point of view. And as I'm reading, I'm getting flashbacks to 3rd edition cards that I used to build my many decks with, creatures like Llanowar Elves, Hill Giants, Shivan Drag You know sometimes when you read a book and you're 16 at the time, you think the book is great; then you read it when you're an adult and it's not that great? Well luckily for me, this book held up to my personal test of time! I really enjoyed it from start to finish, from a nostalgic point of view and a pure entertainment point of view. And as I'm reading, I'm getting flashbacks to 3rd edition cards that I used to build my many decks with, creatures like Llanowar Elves, Hill Giants, Shivan Dragons, and even a Lord of the Pit. The author uses some of the same card references a couple of times, but that works in a MTG world due to how common the cards/spells were at the time-I'm looking at you Giant Spider! At 297 pages, there's not much room for character development, however, there's enough of a backstory of the main characters to keep you reading to the end where a few big reveals happen. I found that some of the plots regarding the main antagonist a little over the top, but hey, it was still entertaining. And, in my opinion, still a great introduction to a YA fantasy setting that you can still partake at local hobby stores even today!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dan DalMonte

    This is an interesting book. Garth One-Eye returns to the Arena, where there are periodic contests between dueling houses. The Arena has become corrupt, however, as there are more matches to the death and leaders of the respective houses have become interested in accumulating wealth and power. The house of Oor-Tael has been destroyed, and the former Grand Master has become a supremely powerful Walker who is able to travel between worlds. Garth is on a mission to restore order. He fights in the c This is an interesting book. Garth One-Eye returns to the Arena, where there are periodic contests between dueling houses. The Arena has become corrupt, however, as there are more matches to the death and leaders of the respective houses have become interested in accumulating wealth and power. The house of Oor-Tael has been destroyed, and the former Grand Master has become a supremely powerful Walker who is able to travel between worlds. Garth is on a mission to restore order. He fights in the competitions and receives the honor of travelling between Domains with the Walker. But, he finds that there is no respite from fighting in the other domains. The multiverse consists in constant strife. This metaphysics reminds me of a Schopenhauerian worldview in which there is just blind struggle that is the basis of reality.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adam Woroniec

    This was surprisingly enjoyable. You may pleasantly find yourself laughing while reading this. I think the writing was very well well done, and it was nice to read some smaller fantasy books that were much simpler from the fat tomes of the Malazan series. Obviously geared towards Magic players, it was an attempt to build lore around the mechanics of the game. I think the author gave the Magic mechanics a good shot at bringing to life, and it fit in with the story. As I return to Magic, I am happ This was surprisingly enjoyable. You may pleasantly find yourself laughing while reading this. I think the writing was very well well done, and it was nice to read some smaller fantasy books that were much simpler from the fat tomes of the Malazan series. Obviously geared towards Magic players, it was an attempt to build lore around the mechanics of the game. I think the author gave the Magic mechanics a good shot at bringing to life, and it fit in with the story. As I return to Magic, I am happy that I read this.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Storyline isn't original but still a pleasant read with some original elements. SPOILER: "royal" (or equivalent) house with outstanding morals are slaughtered due to evil/corrupt courtiers and politicians vying for absolute power. The "royal" child escapes scarred, schemes and increases skill for 20 or so years, arrives back to avenge his family/house and drive back the corruption that killed his family Storyline isn't original but still a pleasant read with some original elements. SPOILER: "royal" (or equivalent) house with outstanding morals are slaughtered due to evil/corrupt courtiers and politicians vying for absolute power. The "royal" child escapes scarred, schemes and increases skill for 20 or so years, arrives back to avenge his family/house and drive back the corruption that killed his family

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeroen Van Schelt

    Best MTG book I've read (and the only one, still) Sucked me right in never let me go. Still one of the best Fantasy books out there. Re-read a couple of times, will prob do so again in the future. And I almost never re-read a book. For me, this book is on the same page as LotR, Sword of Truth & Magician Best MTG book I've read (and the only one, still) Sucked me right in never let me go. Still one of the best Fantasy books out there. Re-read a couple of times, will prob do so again in the future. And I almost never re-read a book. For me, this book is on the same page as LotR, Sword of Truth & Magician

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anders Fleck

    Epic underdog story. I first read it when I was 13 and it was one of the most memorable and influential books of my childhood. Nevermind the poor language, the storytelling and the endless possibilities in the world of Magic is what matters here.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Chronister

    This is one of the pre-official canon stories. Planeswalkers are mentioned but none of the characters are familiar to the history of magic I am familiar with. Despite that I still enjoyed the book and plan on reading the next couple of books.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.