Literature / The Brothers' War
Left: Urza. Right: Mishra.

"The Myth. The Magic. Dominarian legends speak of a mighty conflict, obscured by the mists of history. Of a conflict between the brothers Urza and Mishra for supremacy on the continent of Terisiare. Of titantic engines that scarred and twisted the very planet. Of a final battle that sank continents and shook the skies. The saga of the Brothers' War."

The Brothers' War by Jeff Grubb is the first post-revision Magic: The Gathering novel. It is one of the earliest novels chronologically (corresponding to Antiquities, the second expansion of the card game) and tells the story of the war between the brothers Urza and Mishra and how it devastated the world. It can be read as a story on its own, but it's also one of the earliest instalments chronologically of the Weatherlight Saga.

Urza's saga is continued in Planeswalker.

The Brothers' War provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Villain: Ashnod. She does some nasty things, but she does try to justify them with some semblance of morality (claiming that she "saved" prisoners of Urza's forces who were slated for execution by turning them into Transmogrants and only torturing Tawnos because her torture is far less worse than the Fallaji's) and leaves Mishra when it's clear that he's gone completely overboard. She's also the one character to contribute the most to stopping (or at least slowing) the Phyrexians.
  • Apocalypse How: The Sylex sets on an explosion that wipes out Argoth and sends out shockwaves that level terrain and form new mountains thousands of miles away. It touched off both The Dark and the Ice Age, and was so powerful it cracked the Multiverse so that Dominaria and a handful of other planes were separated from the rest of the Multiverse...a problem that wouldn't be fixed until the events of the Time Spiral block, several millennia later.
  • Arabian Nights Days: The Fallaji are more than a bit inspired by Arab tribes. It's the Watsonian excuse for the first expansion, Arabian Nights, which was released before the makers had started putting together their own storylines starting with Antiquities, and so Retconned at least part of it into Dominaria.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: Urza and Mishra do build their own machines, but salvaged Thran powerstones are still a vital resource.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Urza is the first person witnessed activating his planeswalker spark, when he activates the sylex.
  • Bald Woman: Hurkyl is described this way, although it's noted that she grows her hair out long again while at Terisia city because she is away from the lice-infested underground seaside school of Lat-Nam.
  • Beam-O-War: Young Urza and Mishra have a Beam-O-War battle between the green magical laser beams of Mishra's Weakstone and the red magical laser beams of Urza's Mightstone. When Tocasia tries to break it up, the resulting explosion leads to her death.
  • Bio-Augmentation
    • Ashnod's transmogrants, applying the art of artifice to the human body.
    • The Priests of Gix replace body parts with machines and eventually convince Mishra to do the same.
  • Cain and Abel: Well, obviously.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tawnos's Coffin, which ends up allowing him to survive the final battle of the war.
  • Clockwork Creature: Tawnos' clockwork avians, dragon engines, Yotian soldiers... it's an artificers war, so what did you expect?
  • Dating Catwoman: Tawnos and Ashnod are in love, despite being generals on opposite sides of the war.
  • Engagement Challenge: The Warlord of Kroog, searching for a powerful warrior to wed his daughter, decrees that whoever can move a giant jade statue from one end of the palace courtyard to the other will win the hand of Princess Kayla. Urza completes the challenge by building an automaton to lift the statue.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The sylex.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Both Urza and Mishra, as well as Tawnos.
  • How We Got Here: The opening sequence depicts Tawnos and Ashnod on "the night before the world ended" sitting on the bodies of a dead giant that the islanders of Argoth worshipped as a deity and a mechanical humanoid. Most of the rest of the novel is the decades of conflict that led up to that point.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Most of the characters are sceptical about Hurkyl claiming to have developed a technique that allows one to channel magical energy by concentrating on a certain land....
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Urza becoming a planeswalker was a surprise twist when this book first came out, but Urza has become such an iconic character of the game that nowadays, everyone who reads the book knows it's coming.
  • Lost Technology: The secrets of Thran artifice have been lost to time.
  • Made a Slave: Mishra, after being captured by a Fallaji tribe. His intelligence doesn't go unnoticed, however, and he manages to work his way up to a position of power.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: After Kayla has a one-night affair with Mishra, Urza is never certain whether the son born nine months later was his own or his brother's.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Tocasia
  • Not Even Human: Mishra, in the end.
  • Please Select New City Name: An early contested piece of land is known as the Sword Marches to the Kroogians and the Suwwardi Marches to the Fallaji (one of their tribes is named the Suwwardi).
  • Precursors
    • The Thran.
    • It's implied that there may have been other, older Precursors that built the Golgothian Sylex. It's inscribed with glyphs in Thran, but also ancient Fallaji and other root languages, implying that it may have been built by a primeval civilization that was the originator of all of them.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Urza wins. Technically. Except his brother is dead, Argoth has been vaporized, and most of the world is devastated, causing an ice age. In fact, the planescape is so thoroughly shattered by the end of the war that its total effects wouldn't be fixed until the events of the Time Spiral block, about 4500 years later.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mishra is red, Urza is blue.
  • Retcon: This novel supersedes the prerevisionist comics Antiquities War and Urza-Mishra War.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Urza's wife, Kayla. He was more interested in the relics in her father's vault than her. She's aware of this, but not only did he truly love her at one point, but she rekindles their relationship, which is noted as being something needed so he would stop working tirelessly.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Rusko completely vanishes from the story with no further mentions after the Warlord's surprise attack on the Fallaji.