"War Of The Spark: Ravnica" is the culmination of a big story arc beginning in 2016, with the Magic The Gathering set 'Kaladesh.' Written by Gregg Weisman, someone with no previous familiarity to the Magic The Gathering IP.
At first I was excited to give this novel a read, in the past I have read lots of the MTG short stories online (especially around the time of Shadow's Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon) and i thought "Amazing we are finally getting that work into novel form!"
Now, I am a firm believer of how something begins usually sets the tone for the rest of the media, same could be said in regards to a Video Games, Films or Novels. So when I read the first line of the book, I was a bit worried:
This first line feels like the beginning of a joke... and the rest of the book, in fact, reads like one....
The overarching story easily starred over a hundred characters, not all of which are Planeswalkers, and I'm probably correct in assuming Weisman did not have the time to research all of them before having to write this novel, that's understandable. But it felt like he only researched about two or three of them before giving up and looking at tags in the character descriptions: Nicol Bolas (Dragon, Powerful, Evil).
Not only does it show in his writings, but it also detaches the audience when the characters in the book just appear to be cheap imitations compared to what they have accomplished in their own previous stories (individually and together).
The same cannot be said about the new Planeswalkers however. The protagonist of the story is Teyo Verada, a new Planeswalker introduced to the game itself as well as the story. We follow him from before he had the ability to Planeswalk to the very end of the war itself. Along the way he teams up with Rat (Araithia Shokta) and Kaya (Leader of the Orzhov Guild) as they explore the city of Ravnica trying to unite the guilds against Bolas.
Teyo is obviously the character new readers are going to relate with, as he learns new things so do first time readers. But this is probably one of the reasons the novel was so bad.... For this next point I'll use Harry Potter as an example.
When starting someone off with the Harry Potter franchise, you wouldn't ask them to start with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." You would recommend "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" first. It just doesn't bode well when you try to include new readers in the final chapter of a story, without telling them anything about the beginning first.
The issue here could have been somewhat circumvented if the entire story followed just Teyo, instead of having individual chapters per Planeswalker that part of the story was focusing on.This could have been a reason for Teyo to get involved more, consequently involving the readers more, and have both Teyo and the readers learning about Bolas' past and catching everyone up! It could have also been a reason to involve the Gatewatch more as an A-Team rather than running around like headless chickens until the final chapters of the novel.
Although it wouldn't be fair to write everything I dislike about the novel (although I could probably go on for a while), there was at least one thing I did enjoy about the novel. Rat! Understandably the entire story is based around Planeswalkers fearing for their lives whilst battling against the big bad evil, but having this Non-Planeswalker character involved does give a bit of comic relief to the tense situations. I will not go into detail about Rat, just in case people are currently reading or still want to read War Of The Spark: Ravnica, but I would have quite happily read an entire book on this character, She is amazing and adorable!
Overall, War Of The Spark: Ravnica was a difficult read for me. Difficult to remain interested in as the characters just seem to be cheap imitations of themselves in the past where they have accomplished so much more.
Definitely not one I would recommend to a friend, unless they enjoyed bad novel's.
I would rate it 1/5, I would have preferred the story if it just followed from Teyo's perspective but that's just my opinion.
The spotlight cards from the Magic The Gathering card game and the animated trailer tell the story better.
Thank you all for reading this far! If you did that's amazing! There will be another review of the sequel novel:
War of the Spark: Forsaken - in a few weeks.
Take care of yourselves!