Literature: Time Streams

Karn striking a pose.
Time Streams by J. Robert King is the third book of the Artifacts Cycle. Picking up a few decades after the end of Planeswalker, Urza has established an academy at the remote isle of Tolaria, where he conducts time travel experiments. His goal is to travel back in time to prevent the Thran from turning into the Phyrexians. However, before long things go catastrophically wrong…

This book is where the status of Urza’s saga as prequel to the Weatherlight Saga really comes to the fore, as it explains the origins of Karn and the Weatherlight and also introduces Teferi and Hanna’s father Barrin. It corresponds to the blue and red portions of Urza’s Saga and to Urza’s Legacy. The Artifacts Cycle is concluded in Bloodlines.

Tropes in Time Streams:

  • Adaptive Ability: This, coupled with the facts that he lives in a fast-time bubble, is how Kerrick manages to stay several steps ahead of Urza.
  • Cool Ship: The Weatherlight is built in this novel.
  • Evil Chancellor: Radiant’s counselor Gorig.
  • Golem: This book contains to origin story of Karn the silver golem.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Gherridarigaaz.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Shiv, homeland of the Viashino and the Shivan dragons.
  • Lizard Folk: The Viashino.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: King tries to give the goblins of Shiv some depth by describing three different kinds. None of them match the standard green-skinned goblins of Magic: The Gathering.
  • The Prankster: Teferi.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Jhoira’s people the Ghitu, which is why Jhoira longs for a strong and mysterious man.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: This is the ultimate goal of Urza’s Time Travel experiments.
  • Time Is Dangerous: Only silver can travel through time unharmed, and even silver has difficulty going further back than two days. Later in the story, many Tolarian students are killed by time rifts when the time machine explodes.
  • Time Machine
  • Time Travel
  • Vision Quest: According to Jhoira, the Ghitu undertake these before becoming adults in the eyes of the tribe.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is never explained what happened to Serra, so readers less familiar with Magic’s many storylines will run into this trope. What happens is this: after fleeing her realm, she eventually winds up in Ulgrotha, a story chronicled in the unpopular set Homelands. She is eventually killed by another planeswalker, having lost the will to live after her husband Feroz's death.
  • Yawgmoth’s Time Travel Exemption Act: Urza’s attempts to prevent the rise of Phyrexia do not go well.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: After the time machine explodes, Tolaria is home to many slow and fast time rifts.