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My Magic: The Gathering Novels Collection and a Checklist

I believe I own 61 of 67 or so published Magic: The Gathering novels.

magic_the_gathering_novels_august_28_2018

I got my first MTG novel–Whispering Woods–in the spring of 1995–very early in my having been introduced to the game. I got the next two novels as well as the first around that same time. I read several additional ones through the local library. In 1998 or so I discovered The Brothers’ War via the same library and loved the book. I rediscovered it the next year, in 1999, at a bookstore at a mall near the University, along with at least one later novel. Fall of 1999, all of 2000 and 2001, and I believe into 2002, I followed most of the novels as they came out. I dipped a toe back in for the Time Spiral books and only ever finished reading the first novel before losing track of the series again. I added a couple more books over the years, and then made a concerted effort earlier this year in 2018 to acquire books I was missing.

With the help of online Wiki stuff, I assembled a checklist a few months ago. With a couple of new additions over the weekend, I believe I’m "only" missing 7 or so of the books; 1 of which I’m not even sure is actually a novel. And of those that are, Alara Unbound is apparently selling for over $250.00, and I’m not even sure I’m willing to pay $15-$19 (including shipping) on the "cheaper" books I’m yet missing.

I have to truly wonder if people that put such outrageous prices on "out of print" mass-market paperbacks actually ever get their asking price! And if they’re not actively actually trying to sell the books, I wish they wouldn’t list them. But that gets into other stuff I don’t feel like laying into with this post.

The following list has served me well, and I present it here simply for informational purposes. I’m confident of the bulk of it, but would counsel doing your own research before considering it complete, authoritative, or remotely official!


Year Cycle Title Author ISBN
1994 Arena William R. Forstchen 0-06-105424-0
1995 Whispering Woods Clayton Emery 0-06-105418-6
1995 Shattered Chains Clayton Emery 0-06-105419-4
1995 Final Sacrifice Clayton Emery 0-7522-0217-0
1995 The Cursed Land Teri McLaren 0-06-105016-4
1995 The Prodigal Sorcerer Mark C. Sumner 0-06-105476-3
1996 Ashes of the Sun Hanovi Braddock 0-06-105649-9
1996 Song of Time Teri McLaren 0-06-105622-7
1996 And Peace Shall Sleep Sonia Orin Lyris 0-06-105619-7
1996 Dark Legacy Robert E. Vardeman 0-06-105697-9
1999 The Thran J. Robert King 0-7869-1600-1
1998 Artifacts The Brothers’ War Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1170-0
1998 Artifacts Planeswalker Lynn Abbey 0-7869-1182-4
1999 Artifacts Time Streams J. Robert King 0-7869-1344-4
1999 Artifacts Bloodlines: The Story of Urza’s Destiny Loren L. Coleman 0-7869-1380-0
1999 Ice Age The Gathering Dark Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1357-6
2000 Ice Age The Eternal Ice Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1562-5
2000 Ice Age The Shattered Alliance Jeff Grubb 0-7869-1403-3
1999 Masquerade Mercadian Masques Francis Lebaron 0-7869-1188-3
2000 Masquerade Nemesis Paul B. Thompson 0-7869-1559-5
2000 Masquerade Prophecy Vance Moore 0-7869-1570-6
2000 Invasion Invasion J. Robert King 0-7869-1438-6
2001 Invasion Planeshift J. Robert King 0-7869-1802-0
2001 Invasion Apocalypse J. Robert King 0-7869-1880-2
2000 Odyssey Odyssey Vance Moore 0-7869-1900-0
2001 Odyssey Chainer’s Torment Scott McGough 0-7869-2696-1
2001 Odyssey Judgment Will McDermott 0-7869-2743-7
2001 Legends Johan Clayton Emery 0-7869-1803-9
2001 Legends Jedit Clayton Emery 0-7869-1907-8
2002 Legends Hazezon Clayton Emery 0-7869-2792-5
2002 Legends II Assassin’s Blade Scott McGough 0-7869-2830-1
2003 Legends II Emperor’s Fist Scott McGough 0-7869-2935-9
2003 Legends II Champion’s Trial Scott McGough 0-7869-3015-2
2002 Onslaught Onslaught J. Robert King 0-7869-2801-8
2003 Onslaught Legions J. Robert King 0-7869-2914-6
2003 Onslaught Scourge J. Robert King 0-7869-2956-1
2003 Mirrodin The Moons of Mirrodin Will McDermott 0-7869-2995-2
2004 Mirrodin The Darksteel Eye Jess Lebow 0-7869-3140-X
2004 Mirrodin The Fifth Dawn Cory Herndon 0-7869-3205-8
2004 Kamigawa Outlaw: Champions of Kamigawa Scott McGough 0-7869-3357-7
2005 Kamigawa Heretic: Betrayers of Kamigawa Scott McGough 0-7869-3575-8
2005 Kamigawa Guardian: Saviors of Kamigawa Scott McGough 0-7869-3786-6
2005 Ravnica Ravnica: City of Guilds Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-3792-0
2006 Ravnica Guildpact Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-3989-3
2006 Ravnica Dissension Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-4001-8
2006 Time Spiral Time Spiral Scott McGough 0-7869-3988-5
2007 Time Spiral Planar Chaos Scott McGough, Timothy Sanders 0-7869-4249-5
2007 Time Spiral Future Sight Scott McGough, John Delaney 0-7869-4269-X
2007 Lorwyn Lorwyn Cory J. Herndon, Scott McGough 0-7869-4292-4
2008 Lorwyn Morningtide Cory J. Herndon, Scott McGough 0-7869-4790-X
2008 Lorwyn II: Shadowmoor Shadowmoor Philip Athans, Susan J. Morris 0-7869-4840-X
2008 Lorwyn II: Shadowmoor Eventide Scott McGough, Cory J. Herndon 0-7869-4868-X
2009 BLOCK NOVEL Alara Unbroken Doug Beyer 0-7869-5201-6
2010 BLOCK NOVEL Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum Robert B. Wintermute 0-7869-5476-0
2011 BLOCK NOVEL Scars of Mirrodin: The Quest for Karn Robert B. Wintermute 0-7869-5774-3
2009 PLANESWLKER NOVEL Agents of Artifice Ari Marmell 0-7869-5134-6
2009 PLANESWLKER NOVEL The Purifying Fire Laura Resnick 0-7869-5298-9
2010 PLANESWLKER NOVEL Test of Metal Matthew Stover 0-7869-5532-5
1995 ANTHOLOGY Tapestries Kathy Ice 0-06-105308-2
1995 ANTHOLOGY Distant Planes Kathy Ice 0-06-105765-7
1998 ANTHOLOGY Rath and Storm Peter Archer 0-7869-1175-1
1999 ANTHOLOGY The Colors of Magic Jess Lebow 0-7869-1323-1
2000 ANTHOLOGY Myths of Magic Jess Lebow 0-7869-1529-3
2001 ANTHOLOGY Dragons of Magic J. Robert King 0-7869-1872-1
2002 ANTHOLOGY The Secrets of Magic J. Robert King 0-7869-2710-0
2003 ANTHOLOGY Monsters of Magic J. Robert King 0-7869-2983-9
2008 A Planeswalker’s Guide to Alara Doug Beyer, Jenna Helland 0-7869-5124-9

 

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Jace’s Spellbook and Why to NOT #ShopLocal

I’ve been pulled back to Magic The Gathering recently, at least in terms of story, the art, the cards, the books–if not yet getting to actually PLAY the game itself. There’s been so much to it–from my history with the game 23 years ago, through the years, and the general nostalgia–that it’s been a real "thing" in my life, in my own way, the last few weeks.

While I have mixed feelings on pricing with stuff, the Signature Spellbook: Jace is quite a thing with Magic, and Wizards of the Coast (the publisher of the game).

signature_spellbook_jace

It’s this small boxed set with several cards reprinted with new artwork focused on the Planeswalker character Jace Beleren.

jace_spellbook_from_wotc_site

This set is not even actually out yet–I believe it’s scheduled to become available June 15. That’s…nearly 3 1/2 weeks away. Almost a month.

The publisher’s website shows off the set–the box and its contents. It also shows off–PROMINENTLY–their MSRP of $19.99 (which applies to the US only, but seeing as I am in the US and not seeking it outside the US, that’s a moot note).

jace_spellbook_screenshot_from_wotc_price

Thing is…to pre-order this online (because it’s not out yet, any transaction regarding this would BE a pre-order) it’s pretty much UNAVAILABLE for anything under $45 or so.

That’s online stores, that’s eBay, that’s Amazon, that’s the various MTG community selling sites.

I asked the local comic shop about ordering this, and their distributors apparently don’t have this.

On further research, seems this is only available to certain retailers that are somehow associated with the publisher, in a way that apparently the local comic shop is not. (Ditto another shop I asked).

After attempting to support my local comic shop (which also does Magic) I tried the local game shop. They were happy to put my name down for it…but when I asked the price, to confirm that it was indeed this $20, they had to call someone to check.

I was told it’s $40. The reason being–and I quote–"It’s already going for $45 on eBay."

I opted to "pass on it," then.


There’s the notion of "supporting the local game store" or #ShopLocal. Shouldn’t this then be something to entice someone exactly like me to come INTO the FLGS?

Seeing the ridiculous prices online, that prompted me to actually take action "live" and "in person." So if it was some sort of "force people to #ShopLocal" thing, one could say it worked: it spurred me into action, ready to put out my $20 on the spot today. Yes, I first approached the comic shops–I’m a comics guy first, gamer second.

But then I visited the "actual games store" and…well, $40 MAY be slightly less than eBay or Amazon, but that’s STILL double-MSRP.

While they were checking on the pre-order price, I was looking at the wall, and was getting ready to "splurge" and buy $20 of boosters on the spot, in addition to committing to the $20 later for the product.

I was also strongly considering asking if they were taking pre-orders on booster boxes for M19, the next main set.

And of course, a positive experience would be a good prompt toward going back in randomly for other stuff, as well as maybe spurring me into taking the plunge into Friday Night Magic.


Instead, given the $40 price, I simply thanked them for their time, and walked out.

For that extra $20 on the price of one item that successfully drew me into a local game store:

  • I did NOT buy $20 in boosters (a $20 sale)
  • I am NOT buying the Jace set from them (ought to have been a $20 sale)
  • I am NOT buying a booster box from them
  • It’s put me off from their Friday Night Magic and any subsequent impulse buys and "support the FLGS" sales that would result simply from being in the store for FNM.

And it basically means that rather than transitioning to purchasing through this local game store, I’ll be purchasing stuff (that I can) online or through "the Big Box stores" assuming further purchasing.

jace_spellbook_blogtrailer

A New Adventure on Krynn

I’ve recently had my interest in Dragonlance rekindled a fair bit. And this goes beyond a couple shelves of hardcovers and games…this gets into the vast array of MMPB volumes that were pumped out over nearly a quarter century.

dragonlance_new_sept19a

As with "sub collections" of comics, the earlier stage is the cheapest–going from "just having a few" to "acquiring ‘more’ of them." It’ll be once I track down a majority of the books that the last few will be ridiculously, incredibly expensive.

But for now I’m still down at–and sticking TO–truly half price or less (with the next stage being the move to roughly cover price when factoring in discount + shipping).

At one Half-Price Books I snagged the five volumes above. I would have sworn I already had the Brothers in Arms volume, but if so, it got mixed in/packed away somewhere away from my actual collection. I think a friend had the The Dragons of Krynn book back in the day; and the other three pictured above are simply new books to me.

dragonlance_new_sept19b

At the other Half-Price Books, I snagged the above two books. The Time of the Twins is an older (I think original) edition (not sure/don’t care if it’s a first print or not)…it completes my "set" of Dragonlance Legends in this trade dress.

The Love and War volume is (I believe) also an original (if not first print) edition, and I’d rather have the newer one, but this I got for the nostalgia and immediacy–I like the cover, and Raistlin is one of my favorite characters. Plus, I have Tales vol. 1 in this trade dress, so it’s another that I won’t mind multiple editions "in the end."

Sadly, several books at both stores had my interest but I decided they were beat up/damaged enough that I would end up wanting to replace them anyway so no sense buying them now.


While I do have a number of different editions of some of the books–particularly the Chronicles series–I don’t currently have any real intention of hunting down every Dragonlance book in every edition published over the years…though I think it might be a decently-achievable goal to simply seek a copy of all the books in some edition.

I do not like that a bunch of the original editions–including at least one series that I do not think was ever reprinted in a later edition–merely had the sub-series title/numbering on the spine, but not the actual title of the book itself. (Tales Volume Three on the spine, but you only see Love and War on the front cover or interior.)

dragonlance_paperbacks_before_sept19

Here’s my existing MMPB Dragonlance collection (minus the new books pictured earlier in this post).

Revisiting Homelands on the World of Magic: The Gathering

Writer: D.G. Chichester
Artist: Rebecca Guay
Letters: Kenny Martinez
Asst. Editor: Jeofrey Vita
Editor: Jeffrey Artemis-Gomez
Cover Painting: Tim & Greg Hildebrandt
Published by: Armada/Acclaim Comics
Cover Price: $5.95
Cover Date: February, 1996

It’s been a lot of years since I’ve read this. I have a number of memories associated with the Homelands expansion of Magic: The Gathering (the card game itself). For one thing, it was the first (and to date, only) expansion set I ever got a full box of–my parents bought me a box for Christmas that year. In addition to the awesomeness of seeing more story in the cards–finding out the character of Serra herself (already being familiar with her Angels) as well as Baron Sengir (whose Sengir Vampire was always creepy-looking), to the various analogues and soft reprints of other cards–there was this comic, getting the actual story of a set all in one place at one time.

If I remember correctly, the issue came polybagged with one of several “rare” cards…unless misremembering, I got a Baron Sengir this way.

The story itself is huge in scope–spanning centuries, definitely not your “street-level” kind of story, but one from the point of view of near-immortality. While it’s an interesting approach, too much time passes too quickly in such a short span to really get to know any characters in any organic sense–we get “told” more than we’re “shown.”

While very highly-compressed (if this were a Marvel property it would probably be spread across at least 12 issues) I do appreciate the overview or “survey” of the world and its cultures, and seeing the impact of Feroz and Serra upon the place.

Flipping through, it looks like a quick read, but the actual reading took a lot longer than I would have expected…part of the “compression,” I guess.

Prior to recognizing her name, I recognized Rebecca Guay‘s art with the Serra Angel special while trying to find a copy of it last month without spending $50+. I’d recognized the art without knowing quite why–connecting it to this issue cleared that right up. The visual style is a bit impressionistic, sort of surreal and maybe slightly abstract…but it works for this story.

This is specifically the story of Homelands–but it’s also the stuff of legend, as one has to have already passed through a huge span of time to talk about it, so while we see the story unfold, this could be a story being told to someone well after the fact–a legend of the world’s history told to a child, perhaps.

As part of the Armada MTG universe, we get a cameo of Taysir–whether this is early Taysir or not, I’m not entirely sure–but it roots that character in the “canon” of Magic: The Gathering, not just some character created in a licensed comic but an actual part of the official story.

Also as part of the Armada line, we have the usual “backmatter” that is very much a part of all of the Armada MTG comics. We have a 2-page article from one of the creators of the Homelands expansion, talking about what went into the making of the set itself. Then we get a specific timeline of the history of the world, from the beginning of the story to the present, further contextualizing everything that was just read about and putting things into more solid terms. There are another couple pages on the history of Dominaria, and then a couple pages about Taysir. Set creators each share their favorite cards from the set, and we get a several-page overview of the set’s themes, by color after that. Finally we get the typical Seer Analysis that looks at some of the specific cards referenced in the story and how they were adapted.

I really like the Hildebrandts‘ cover…it’s very fantasy-esque, though also very highly colorful, making it stand out quite a bit to me.

In my experience, this issue/volume seems to be the most common of the prestige-format issues Armada released…I’ve come across this several times through the years in bargain bins, where I have not the other Armada prestige issues.

While this carried a $6 cover price back in the 1990s, by contemporary standards this is well worth that price. The story is a good length, and the back-matter (if of interest to you) lends a lot of extra time to spend on reading beyond just the comic itself. This also serves as a sort of “guide” to Homelands, and I see it as the precursor to the MTG novels that would later be released along with each card set, doing the same thing this did: tell the canon story of the set including incorporating the various characters and cards into the story, the ongoing continuity of the game, providing a richer context for those who wanted to delve deeper than just the flavor text on the cards themselves.

While Homelands never proved to be a particularly key set and never seemed to me to be all that popular…in terms of MTG comics, this is–for me–probably one of the most significant ones, and definitely my favorite of all the covers.


Other Revisiting Magic: The Gathering posts:

Revisiting The Brothers’ War – a Magic: The Gathering novel

I pulled this off my shelf a few weeks ago after re-reading some of the earliest Armada Magic: The Gathering comics. (The Shadow Mage, Ice Age, Fallen Empires, and Antiquities War). Something about the Antiquities War mini-series reminded me of the acknowledgements in the novel to prior versions of the story of The Brothers’ War. And rediscovering that the comics left the “whole story” incomplete–Armada only got to publish 2/3 of their planned arc for the story–my interest was reignited.

A few years ago, I read Time Spiral, the first book in a trilogy of novels covering that block of Magic: The Gathering card sets; part of what really drew me in was that it revisited the world of Dominaria, which seemed to have been largely left behind after the Invasion block. And not really having read any of the books since Apocalypse, I was interested in seeing where Dominaria had wound up.

Anyway, The Brothers’ War.

This is easily one of my favorite books of all time–this is at least the third, maybe the fourth or fifth time I’ve read the novel cover to cover…something I do very rarely and with so few books.

This came out in 1998 or so, kicking off a huge line of MTG novels from Wizards of the Coast. There’d been another line of MTG novels (published through HarperPrism) several years earlier–but those were (for the most part) generic fantasy novels with the MTG “branding.” This line provided the actual story of the cards, the continuity of the game itself.

At least with the early MTG expansions, as WotC was world-building and beginning to pull everything together into one continuity (albeit across a multiverse), everything came back to the war between Urza and Mishra. Much of the detail was vague and loose–but what was clear was that a conflict between these brothers had caused much destruction and deeply impacted their world. An unnatural ice age actually descended on the world after the conflict, and the world itself was cut off from the multiverse for centuries.

But this novel went back to the beginning–Urza and Mishra as young boys, arriving at Tocasia’s school, where they began learning of artifacts and the Thran (an ancient civilization). They grew into the school–Mishra learning of the Fallaji, a desert-dwelling people while Urza focused on his inventions. Eventually, they visit an ancient cave, where they discover intact Thran artifacts, and are introduced to Phyrexia–a plane of living machines. They also each gain a half of an incredibly powerful Power Crystal. Mishra’s becomes known as the “Weakstone” as it can weaken artifacts while Urza’s becomes known as the “Mightstone” as it strengthens them and brings life to the machines.

From there, the brothers each covet the other’s half, leading to a rivalry that lasts the rest of their lives as the entire world eventually pays an astronomical cost for the brothers’ jealousy. Their rivalry results in the death of their teacher, sending the boys onto their own individual paths: Mishra into the desert where he becomes a part of the Fallaji, while Urza returns to “civilization” and marries into royalty. Eventually rising to top levels of government in each culture, the brothers have immense resources to throw at each other, draining the world’s resources in the process, until the only thing left is destruction.

The novel’s story is told in sections, each encapsulating a period of years in the brothers’ lives. All told, the novel spans over 60 years, following the brothers from being young boys into old age; a lifetime of conflict. Structurally, I find it interesting to see stories that do span characters’ entire lifetime (or the majority of it)…something to it seems more interesting and complete to me than just continuous stories all bunched into a small span of time.

This story also seeds the foundation of stories to come, as we are introduced to a number of prominent concepts that play out across much of the Magic: The Gathering continuity. We’re also introduced to some core concepts from the cards–getting backstory on prominent cards and locations, nicely “transforming” the source material into essentially adaptation material; that is, the book’s story draws from concepts set forth in the cards, but does so in such a way that the cards then can seem like they were adapted instead from the book.

This book is marked as the first volume of the Artifacts Cycle, but it truly stands alone as a self-contained story. There’s no “to be continued” or traditional-cliffhanger sort of ending. The end does leave an opening to transition into the larger MTG continuity, but you’d pretty much have to know where it goes to truly pick up on that; even knowing it myself, it’s a bit of a disconnect, like taking a standalone movie and then 15/20 years later making a sequel. The sequel can work and validly pick up the story, but the sequel is far from any sort of “essential” to the original.

For a 1998 book–now 14ish years old–this held up remarkably well. This could have been written in 2012 if I didn’t know any better. This has been reprinted in a “trade paperback”-sized edition combined with another early MTG book, The Thran. While I would definitely love to have a standard-sized hardback of just this novel, I’m not terribly interested in the “collected edition.”

What also proved surprising (and very disappointing) for me was that this book is NOT currently (late October 2012) available as an ebook. Perhaps I’m an extreme minority, but I would gladly have paid the $6-$8 for a nook-book edition, for the convenience of re-reading this on my phone’s nook app. Instead, I spent 4-5 weeks carrying my 1998 mass-market paperback edition around, which of late has been a less than ideal prospect.

I’m fairly tempted to re-read several of the other books from this series, though I lack (by far) the kind of time TO read that I had in late high school and early college. Honestly, the primary drawback is that these are not ebooks–if they were available that way, I’d be further tempted with the ability to buy/download them and have them on my phone, to jump into “whenever” spur of the moment.

If you’re into fantasy–even if you don’t care a lick about Magic: The Gathering the card game or anything from the past 10 years from MTG in general, this is well worth reading. For me, it’s been worth reading at least three times, and I enjoyed it as much now as I did in 1998 and 1999, with a number of scenes and “moments” having stuck with me that I’d forgotten came from this book.

MTG

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