“She had felt somehow that she, by mere exertion of will, could keep him alive, could bring him healing. It seemed impossible for him to die while she lived.”
“Magic: The Gathering: The Thran” by J. Robert King
Everything has a beginning and this stand-alone book in the Magic: the Gathering series is the beginning of the lore that creeps into the great, sweeping world that the books and card game encapsulates. These books usually come in Cycles, trilogies (and sometimes more) of closely related stories that sweep over eras and generations due to the fact that most of the main characters are eternal planeswalkers, so to come across a stand-alone book like The Thran was kind of exciting for me. It also helped that its author, J. Robert King, is easily my favorite of the M:tG scribes, and it touched on something I was curious about for a while: where it all began.
The Thran were the ancient race whose ruins provided the brothers Urza and Mishra with their mechanical designs and power crystals that fueled their devastating war. It was from the Thran that the Phyrexians emerged, as well, a new form of mechanized civilization borne from this society to wage its own war against it. All this we know about from Urza’s Legacy, but we never quite knew how, and that’s what this book set out to tell us.
Not only do we discover the origins of a god (who, like so many M:tG gods started out quite normal), but we also have an interesting power play between three figures who, for a M:tG book, are fairly fleshed out and well-written. The power struggle could also play as a love triangle, an interesting element that could have gone horribly wrong, but King handled it very deftly, and even managed to give it a twist I didn’t quite expect and thoroughly appreciated. The book is peppered with references to other volumes, which is just neat for fans of the series, but I imagine one wouldn’t lose too much if they were to start with The Thran in their M:tG journey.
A fun, intriguing look into the lore of the M:tG world that stuck with me and lingered, especially when I read the books that take places ages upon ages upon ages later.
Books read: 014/100.