Book Review: Return to Ravnica: The Secretist, Part One (Magic: The Gathering)
by Aaron Sirois on March 1, 2013

ravnicacover

Return to Ravnica: the Secretist, Part One
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Page Count: 79
Cost: $1.99
Release Date: 11/27/2012

Magic: The Gathering is an amazingly fun card game with a surprisingly deep lore to with the cool cards and the pretty artwork. Ravnica is an interesting place. It’s a huge city where ten magical guilds live together in a bit of an uneasy peace. Each guild represents two colors of the Magic wheel, and conflict is bound to come up more often than not. The first set that took place in this setting was a huge hit because of the sheer deck possibilities. It’s no surprise that WotC has brought the city back, and that an interesting trilogy of books could be created from it.

If you didn’t know that Ravnica was run by guilds, you certainly will after this book. For thousands of years, the guilds were held in place by the Guildpact, which formed a peace treaty between all ten of them. This pact has recently dissolved, and tensions are slowly starting to build up. Guilds are testing their boundaries, performing aggressive actions that never would have flown under the old regime. The craziness gets to a whole new level when a member from one guild hires members of a second guild to kidnap a member of a third guild. Meanwhile, a fourth guild is on the hunt of an ancient hidden power that forces them to cross path with a fifth guild. If that isn’t enough guilds for you, then don’t worry, a sixth guild starts an investigation into all of this and aims to put a stop to it.

In the midst of all this guild craziness is Jace Beleren. MTG fans will know him as the human planeswalker that is pretty much the face of the game at this point. He stumbles upon a code hidden in stones unearthed by the Izzet guild (Guild four in the above paragraph). Through some espionage and mind magic, he uncovers the “Implicit Maze”, which theoretically leads to a source of power so great as to allow one guild to rule the others. He also manages to piss off the leader of the Izzet guild, who happens to be an all powerful dragon. Fearing for his safety, and for the safety of his friends, he goes about deleting all memories related to this maze from his mind. Unfortunately, he does this right as a group of bandits comes in and kidnaps his friend. Basically, he wipes his mind for nothing, as his friends still wind up in terrible danger.

This was an interesting book for a number of reasons. Without his memories, Jace has to do a little detective work, not unlike some spy movies of late. This leads to interesting interactions with members of other guilds, and offers up more than a few harrowing combat scenarios. It also gives the author plenty of opportunities to describe in great detail various lairs and establishments that represent specific guilds. He takes every one of those opportunities. It’s not a long book by any means, but it certainly offers a detailed look into Ravnica, and creates some incredible images in mind of the reader. It was also my first MTG book, so I had plenty of fun looking up characters to see if they had their own card or not. Some did. Some did not.

In the end, this was a fun read that didn’t take up too much time. In fact, I read it after I finished up a novel I was already reading in my free time. If it took more than an hour or so to go through the whole thing, I’d be shocked. Thankfully, the price matches its brevity, as it’s only two bucks. If you’re a MTG fan looking to go a little bit more in depth with the lore behind the latest set, this is certainly worth taking a look at.




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Aaron Sirois

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