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Zendikar In The Teeth Of Akoum back to reviews
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Yeah, this is bad.
The plot is bad. Nothing happens. They walk someplace, get in a fight with throwaway characters, walk someplace else, get in a fight with throwaway characters, take a boat, get in a fight with throwaway characters, and that's basically a summary of twenty chapters of the book. Oh, and spoiler: Sorin is a vampire. Yeah, that's supposed to be a major plot twist. I don't understand why Wintermute thought it would be shocking, or whatever, leaving it for The Reveal when the book is nearly over...I mean, the whole point of Sorin is that he's a vampire. Seriously, it's not a secret, and having Nissa not catch on just makes her look stupid.

Speaking of which, the characters are bad. Nissa is an idiot. Sorin is a jerk. Anowon has hardly any characterization at all. None of the heroes are likable. Sarkhan, Jace, Chandra, and Gideon don't appear in the book at all. As for the villains, there aren't any, really, so I suppose that's why the plot sucks so much.

Yeah, the whole book is just bad. Not like So Bad Its Good bad, just boring. You know how some books are so good, you can't put them down? This is the opposite of that. Every chapter, I had to struggle not to put it down. Nothing interesting or enjoyable happens. Nothing really relevant to the story happens except in the very last chapter. Here, I'll tell you how it ends, okay? Nissa stops Sorin from resealing the Eldrazi titans because she's an idiot and she thinks (in defiance of all observation and common sense) that if they're free, they'll go away. Whoops, turns out they want to rampage through Zendikar anyway. Sorin says "Screw This Im Outta Here, you messed it up and I have more important things to do than clean up after you, so have fun." Then he leaves and Nissa tries to fight the Eldrazi, but she's like "Oh shit that didn't work, I'm an idiot," and leaves to look for Sorin again. The end. And that's it, I'm not exaggerating, that's all that happens. Now you don't have to read the book. You're welcome.

Look, if you don't believe me, you can try reading it, but don't say I didn't warn you, okay? It's not a good book.
Quest for Karn is even worse.

Magic The Gathering books have fallen so far. The Ice Age books, the Kamigawa books, Ravnica, and Nemesis and The Brothers War are actually good (Especially The Brother War). However, they've gone from having occasional stumbles (Prophecy) to blocks of failure (Onslaught) to Quest for Karn and Teeth of Akoum. Agents of Artifice was good, but it seems to be the exception to the rule in recent years.

What's even worse is the mean-spirited way that the writers have attacked the established characters. Suddenly, Xantcha's heartstone is of course the cause of Karn's problem and the old Planeswalkers are mostly dead. Even really good world-building and story ideas like what the creative team did with New Phyrexia gets piled under garbage like Quest for Karn; hell, the great "Planeswalker's Guide to New Phyrexia" articles on the website contradict the book, as if they don't even care about the books anymore.

So yeah, Magic books suck now.

And oh yes, "Sorin is a vampire" made me facepalm in real life. It would have been an interesting idea if we hadn't known beforehand, but since a quick glance at Sorin's art reveals that, shockers, he's a vampire, there was no point. Wintermute could have easily made a different character (Maybe an ally of Sorin's?) to have the plot twist with, but he didn't, so we spend this incredibly awkward period with Nissa believing that the ashen-skinned guy with white hair, Victorian dress, and fangs isn't a vampire.

EDIT: Oh, and the Eldrazi were so damn wasted, just like the new Phyrexian factions and praetors were in Quest for Karn. It's like Wintermute enjoys making boring villains and then turning the more exciting ones into set pieces.
comment #12186 Scardoll 5th Jan 12 (edited by: Scardoll)
Wintermute is an absolute champ at taking a really cool story and making it mind-numbingly boring. I read half of this, and Quest for Karn. What a joke. The crazy thing is, they used to release one novel per Magic set, and have since changed to one novel per block (three sets). This should mean the novels have MORE things going on, not less.

The Thran and The Brothers War are really, really good. This new stuff...yeah, if they don't get a new author, I'm not reading these anymore.
comment #14063 JobanGrayskull 30th Apr 12 (edited by: JobanGrayskull)
The MTG novel line has actually been cancelled because they weren't selling well. No wonder, with authors like Wintermute. I haven't read Zendikar, but I have read The Quest for Karn and it was absolutely painful.
comment #14064 Albertosaurus 30th Apr 12
That's a shame. I'm sure Robert Wintermute was looking forward to writing his Innistrad novel all about Liliana walking for 300 pages to reach the Helvault, only for something completely anticlimactic to happen.
comment #14091 JobanGrayskull 1st May 12
I'm not surprised the novel line has gone belly-up. Aside from Jeff Grubb's The Brother's War and Ice Age trilogy, I don't think any of them have been worth reading.
comment #14121 Filby 3rd May 12
Yeah, Jeff Grubb is pretty much the only actually good author who has written for the novel line. I've always wanted him to write some original fiction - nearly all his writing consists of tie-ins to franchises I have no investment in. Although I will add that Scott Mc Gough and J. Robert King have written some good stuff - keyword here being some.

I also wonder about the process that led to Wintermute writing these books. Unless Wintermute is a pseudonym, he has never written anything before these novels. What did he ever do to get this commission?
comment #14122 Albertosaurus 3rd May 12 (edited by: Albertosaurus)
Sadly, not much; if you look at the interview, he first met Wot C executives at a tournament event, and they hired him when he expressed interest in the part.

I think Wintermute would be a lot better if A.) He wasn't tied to an existing franchise that he could genericize, and B.) He had a good editor. Neither applies to his partnership with Wot C.
comment #14128 Scardoll 3rd May 12 (edited by: Scardoll)
Any chance you could provide a link to that interview? I can't seem to find it...
comment #14135 Albertosaurus 4th May 12
Oh yeah, I forgot about McGough and King. I've heard that McGough's Kamigawa and Legends books were decent, and The Thran by King was okay, but I've never read them. Neither holds a candle to Grubb, whom Wizards should have contracted more often IMO.
comment #14221 Filby 7th May 12
Planeswalker is decent; while the writing is pretty wretched (Not helped by the terrible editing), both Xantcha and Urza are great characters to follow. I remember actually thinking "These are great ideas; I just wish this had a better author." Ravnica is also decent, although the next two books are much worse.

Also, I'm going to have to take back what I said about Wintermute; not because I think it was untrue, but because I, like you, cannot find the interview in question, along with any of the other Wintermute interviews that I originally looked at. Stupid internet.
comment #14222 Scardoll 7th May 12 (edited by: Scardoll)
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