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Literature / Invasion Cycle

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”This is where we belong. There is no vessel I’d rather sail, and no crew I’d rather command. There is no enemy I’d rather fight, and no world I’d rather defend. We took the fight to our enemy’s command post, and then his stockpiled fleet. Now it seems he is returning the favor. Now our home is under attack, or more specifically, my home – Benalia. Phyrexia comes to our world in force. Their goal is no less than the destruction of all nations and the extinction of all species. The invasion has begun!”
Gerrard Capashen

Consisting of Invasion, Planeshift and Apocalypse, the Invasion Cycle by J. Robert King is the Grand Finale of the Weatherlight Saga. Returning to Dominaria after their adventures on Rath and Mercadia, Gerrard and the rest of the Weatherlight crew find their homeworld under attack by the Phyrexians. They are the first line of defense in a global war against the invaders, while Urza assembles a team of nine planeswalkers to infiltrate and destroy Phyrexia itself.

After this cycle, Magic: The Gathering largely returned to shorter storylines, usually spanning only a single block. The first such story is the Odyssey Cycle, taking place a century after the events of the Invasion Cycle.

Tropes in the Invasion Cycle:

  • Alien Invasion: Ish, as the invading Phyrexians are actually a severely altered form of the Thran, an ancient and now extinct race originally native to Dominaria.
  • Anyone Can Die: This trilogy’s body count is extraordinary. It would be easier to count the characters who survive than those who die. In the end, Takara, Hanna, Thaddeus, Barrin, Tsabo Tavoc, Agnate, Dralnu, Kristina, Daria, Tevesh Szat, Taysir, Greven il-Vec, Rhammidarigaaz, Crovax, Ertai, Commodore Guff, Bo Levar, Eladamri, Lin Sivvi, Urza, Gerrard and Yawgmoth all bite the dust.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Karn becomes a planeswalker at the end.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tsabo Tavoc and Ertai are both missing a few bulbs from the chandelier, but Crovax out-crazies them both by orders of magnitude (and wields an ax in battle for good measure).
  • Battle Couple: Eladamri and Lin Sivvi become this over the course of the trilogy.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Eladamri and Lin Sivvi jump into lava when Yawgmoth approaches.
  • Big Bad: Yawgmoth is the lord of Phyrexia and the ultimate Big Bad behind not just this trilogy, but the entire near-decade long Weatherlight/Urza story as a whole.
  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: Tsabo Tavoc's philosophy. Her defeat convinces the Phyrexians to ease off the plague ships and witch engines in favor of more blunt force.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Phyrexians are destroyed, but Dominaria is in ruins and many, many people have died.
  • Blind Seer: Urza disguises himself as one to advise the Weatherlight's crew without the baggage that would come with revealing himself to them directly.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Commodore Guff rather infamously does this.
  • The Bus Came Back: After being introduced in Time Streams and being MIA in Bloodlines (Magic: the Gathering), the dragon Rhammidarigaaz returns here and by Planeshift is upgraded to Deuteragonist.
  • Cessation of Existence: Lich lord Dralnu claims this happened to him when he died.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Tsabo Tavoc combines this with Hive Mind for a truly disturbing pathology. How pathological? She'll throw thousands of her ''own troops' to their deaths, just to enjoy the sensation of it.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Losing his daughter Hanna drives Barrin to sacrifice himself and his island homeland of Tolaria, an event depicted on the card Obliterate.
  • The Dragons Come Back: In Planeshift, renegade planeswalker Tevesh Szat guides dragon leader Darigaaz to resurrect the "Primevals", five legendary dragons that ruled the world twenty thousand years ago. As it turns out Darigaaz himself is actually the first dragon, whose resurrection makes it possible for the other four to be revived.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The cards for the five Primevals were released in the Invasion set, even though four of them don't actually appear until Planeshift.
  • Eldritch Abomination: After being hyped for several years, Yawgmoth finally makes his triumphant appearance in Apocalypse... as a malevolent, planet-sized Fog of Doom. Readers weren't exactly impressed.
  • Ending Memorial Service
  • Evil Is Petty: Not long after Yawgmoth finally makes his triumphant return, it becomes clear that several millennium of godhood haven't changed his core personality. Underneath the grandiose statements and divine powers he's still a narcissistic, self-absorbed, jilted ex-lover.
  • Face–Heel Turn: While Weatherlight crew member Crovax already completed his descent into villainy back in Nemesis, here Blue Mage Ertai follows him, having been broken by the death of his lover Belbe and subsequent forced servitude to Crovax.
  • The Final Temptation: Yawgmoth tempts both Urza and Gerrard, and is successful in both cases at that, driving Urza to betray his own planeswalker alliance and Gerrard to fight Urza to the death on his orders.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Gerrard disembowels Tsabo Tavoc in Invasion, and Crovax later kills her. Not only do both characters lose pure stat matches with her in the card game, it's completely impossible for either to do any damage to her at all thanks to her card's abilities.
  • Grand Finale: Of the Weatherlight Saga.
  • The Hero Dies: Gerrard and Urza both die.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rhammidarigaaz, Urza, Gerrard.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: While preparing the destruction of Phyrexia, Urza comes to realize that he admires Phyrexia – so much so that he is unable to go through with his plan. He snaps out of it after being beheaded by Gerrard.
  • Hidden Depths: Squee, who gets put to work manning the Weatherlight's guns after discovering his innate marksmanship when he shot down Volrath's flagship in Mercadian Masques.
  • Humongous Mecha: Urza’s titan engines.
  • It Can Think: The Weatherlight attains sentience shortly before her final Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Last Stand: It’s even a card.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Yawgmoth seduces Urza and Gerrard at the end of Planeshift and at the beginning of Apocalypse compels them to fight each other to the death to see who gets to serve him. Gerrard wins, but realizes that the Hanna he is being tempted with is in fact Yawgmoth himself.
  • Losing Your Head: Urza spends most of Apocalypse as a disembodied head.
  • Magic Librarian: The planeswalker Commodore Guff, a librarian who knows the entire history of the multiverse and has a penchant for breaking the fourth wall.
  • Nature Spirit: Molimo the Maro-Sorcerer, who is both sentient manifestation and guardian of the Llanowar Forest, making him a counterpart to Yavimaya's maro-sorcerer Multani.
  • Offscreen Inertia: This is what makes the fate of Mishra so unsettling.
  • Power Armor: Urza builds Nine Titans for his coalition of planeswalkers to pilot during their assault on Phyrexian.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Keldons have always taken the twilight prophecy to mean that their dead heroes would rise again to fight with them. Instead, they turn against the Keldons, allowing the true heroes of Keld (i.e. the living) to rise.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: A rare heroic example, as Gerrard attempts to warn his home nation of Benalia about the Phyrexians but is summarily arrested for desertion, having left his post to rejoin the Weatherlight and rescue Sisay back in Rath and Storm.
  • Sadistic Choice: Tsabo Tavoc leaves the captured metathran general Thaddeus alive after torturing and partly dissecting him to force his comrade Agnate to choose between giving the man he is completely devoted to a Mercy Kill or living him alive in agony. Agnate kills him, and is never the same after.
  • "Save the World" Climax: As noted before, the Weatherlight Saga started out with our heroes just trying to rescue their captain, but here they are indeed saving the world.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Teferi decides the Invasion is unwinnable for Dominaria and phases himself and his homelands of Zhalifir and Shiv out of reality. This effectively has all the involved parties Put on a Bus, one they will not return from for several years.
  • Sealed Army in a Can: The Kavu, a species of large quadrupedal omnivores that are awakened by Gaea to help the coalition fight off the Phyrexians. They're much more prominent in the cards than they are in the novels, but they are mentioned a couple of times.
  • Series Continuity Error: Barrin blows up Tolaria in Invasion, even through the earlier book Rath and Storm established that Tolaria still existed long after the invasion's end. Later stories opted to go with King's take on things and keep Tolaria destroyed, though eventually a New Tolaria was established.
  • Servant Race: The Metathran, first introduced in back in Bloodlines, are a servant race created from Phyrexian DNA from Urza for the sole purpose of fighting the Phyrexian invaders.
  • The Starscream: Tsabo Tavoc wants to kill her master Crovax and take the position of evincar for her own. Amusingly enough she's perfectly capable of it in the card set, but by the time she reunites with her boss she's already been trashed by the heroes and repaired with cheap materials as punishment for her failure. Crovax has no trouble at all backing up his words after declaring that You Have Failed Me.
  • Torture Technician: Tsabo Tavoc's hobby when she isn't ineptly commanding the Phyrexian forces.
  • Villain Has a Point: Ertai has definitely gone over to the dark side, but he's quite right to be sore at the Weatherlight crew for abandoning him after he helped them escape from Rath.
  • We Have Reserves: Tsabo Tavoc's attitud as a military leader, which ultimately gets her killed. Turns out that while the Phyrexian have forces numbering in the millions if not billions, even their reserves have limits.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Primevals Treva and Dromar, whose final fates after the other three Primevals are killed are completely unknown.
  • Where It All Began: The finale of Invasion takes place at Koilos, where Urza and Mishra first opened the portal to Phyrexia.
  • You Have Failed Me: Crovax eats Tsabo Tavoc after her failure at Koilos.