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Literature / Odyssey Cycle

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This cycle of Magic: The Gathering novels, the first new story after the massive Weatherlight Saga, corresponds to the Odyssey block in the card game. The Odyssey Cycle (comprised of three novels: Odyssey, Chainer's Torment, and Judgment) takes place in Otaria, a subcontinent of postapocalyptic Dominaria. The plot revolves around a powerful Artifact of Doom called Mirari, a magical orb that can transform the wielder's deepest desires into reality. In many ways, it's a return to the basics, with only small links to previous storylines, so players new to the storyline could jump right in. The story of Otaria is concluded in the Onslaught Cycle.

Not to be confused with The Odyssey.


The Odyssey Cycle provides examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: Dominaria has just been ravaged by the Phyrexian invasion, and Otaria is still recovering.
  • Animal Motifs: Chainer has a snake motif. He likes snakes.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Mirari grants immense power, but With Great Power Comes Great Insanity — its power is difficult to control, and those who attempt to use it are quickly consumed and destroyed by it.
  • Artificial Limbs
    • The Cabal replaces severed limbs with new ones, albeit usually involving some level of Body Horror. Chainer, for example, receives a very expensive metal replacement after losing a hand in a fight against Jeska and Balthor.
    • Played for Drama when Chainer, trying to heal his wounded friend, uses the Mirari to give Kamahl scaly, snakelike replacement limbs; Kamahl is horrified when he wakes up, and it ends up driving a wedge between the two.
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  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Ambassador Laquatus doesn't think much of the humans he has been sent to represent cephalid society to. He's only in his position because his Emperor, Aboshan, is an even more frothing anti-human racist than he is.
  • Bald of Awesome: Kamahl's character design is clearly meant to invoke this. It's mentioned in the card set that he burned off his hair as a youth after taking in a Goretusk Firebeast.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Mirari has a bad habit of granting wishes in this way. Kirtar for instance wanted perfect order, so the Mirari transformed him and everyone around him into statues.
  • Bird People: Aven, the new White-themed race introduced in this trilogy and card set. Most of the Order characters are aven, including Lt. Kirtar, Major Teroh and Commander Eesha.
  • Blood Knight: Kamahl, the trilogy's central protagonist, starts out as one of these.
  • The Caligula: Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor: ruler of the ocean, paranoid lunatic.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Laquatus has a bad case of it, changing sides more often than most people change their underwear.
  • Compelling Voice: One of Ambassador Laquatus's favorite tricks.
  • Complete Immortality: The Cabal Patriarch has it, though how he has it is left unexplained until the Onslaught Cycle.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Chainer is a Cabal dementia caster who is the protagonist of the second book. There's also his mentor Skellum, who is also a dementia caster but is nevertheless a good guy though and through.
  • Defector from Decadence: The trilogy features two of these, one heroic and one villainous:
    • Laquatus is the villainous defector. He was originally a minor merfolk noble and betrayed his people to become a powerful ally to the cephalids.
    • Balthor is the heroic defector. He didn't betray the dwarves, he just liked living with the barbarians better and was basically 'adopted' by them.
  • Evil Chancellor: Laquatus, to Aboshan.
  • Fake Memories: This is another little trick Laquatus likes to use to play those around him like fiddles.
  • Familiar: Turg, a giant frog-beast magically bound to do Laquatus's bidding. Later replaced with Burke, one of Chainer's more powerful creations.
  • Fantastic Racism: All over the place. Cephalids sneer at humans, humans mock avens, avens scorn centaurs... Otaria is a pretty racist place, all told.
  • Feathered Fiend: Kirtar, a Big Bad Wannabe and the Disc-One Final Boss of Odyssey.
  • Five Races: And notably, they are not the usual Five Races of Magic. Desiring to "shake things up" after the Invasion Cycle, Wizards mandated that new races would replace the traditional ones for the Odyssey Cycle. This mix-up involved:
    • Knights and Soldiers, the traditional White races of Magic, were replaced by the Aven, a new race of flying bird people (who were all either Knights or Soldiers).
    • Merfolk, the traditional Blue race of Magic, were replaced with Cephalids, a new race of sentient octopus people.
    • Zombies, the traditional Black race of Magic, were placed by Horrors and Minions.
    • Goblins, the traditional Red race of Magic, were replaced by Dwarves and Barbarians.
    • Elves, the traditional Green race of Magic, were replaced by Centaurs.
  • Frog Men: Anurids are a downplayed example. They are not sentient, but are essentially frog men attack dogs. Ambassador Laquatus's first bodyguard, Turg, is one such creature.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight
    • Happens between Kamahl and Chainer at the end of Chainer's Torment.
    • Kamahl and Zombie Balthor in Judgment.
    • Jeska vs. Mirari-obsessed Kamahl in Judgment.
  • Jerk Jock: Lieutenant Kirtar is basically the aven equivalent of this.
  • Just You and Me and My GUARDS!: Laquatus pulls this on Kamahl in the third book.
  • I Know Your True Name: The members of the Cabal all have "true names" that only they and their Patriarch know; when the Patriarch addresses them by these true names, they become paralyzed and pliant to whatever the Patriarch tells them to do. He gets this turned around on him, however, when Chainer uses his alliance with Laquatus to find his true name.
  • Klingon Promotion: Attempted. Chainer tries to kill the Cabal Patriarch, more out of revenge for Skellum than to take control of the group, but he is unable as the Patriarch is protected by his dark god. Unable to kill the Patriarch, Chainer instead exiles him and seizes control of Cabal City.
  • Knight Templar: The Order, with Kirtar in particular being quite self-righteously demented.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Balthor dying and being reanimated as a zombie is a plot twist in the third book. However, now that the expansion is out, the existence of this card singlehandedly spoils that twist.
  • Magic Knight: Kamahl is this, as are most of the Cabal pit fighters.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ambassador Laquatus plays everyone against everyone else and does it in style.
  • Light Is Not Good: Lieutenant Kirtar in Odyssey and Major Teroh in Chainer's Torment.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: In the first book, a young forest dragon is killed in a pit fight... and its very angry, much larger mommy shows up for revenge.
  • My God, What Have I Done? / Big "NO!": After Kamahl mortally wounds his sister.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: After being resurrected as "Balthor the Defiled", Balthor becomes a Barbarian Dwarf Zombie.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Braids is insane and constantly underestimated for being so. This is a mistake, as she is dangerously competent in spite of her insanity.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played as straight as straight can be. Balthor even has the Scottish accent!
  • Planet of Hats: Or Ocean of Hats, as the case may be. The successors to the Merfolk, the Cephalids, are uniformly depicted as being a treacherous and intrigue-addicted race.
  • Playing Both Sides: The cephalids think they are playing the Order and the Cabal against each other. Who is actually doing the playing is Laquatus, but even he isn't fully in control of his strings, as the Cabal Patriarch knows of his dalliances with the Order but keeps him around because "there is value in an ally with no morals."
  • Playing with Fire: Kamahl's magical specialty.
  • Please Keep Your Hat On: Skellum, who, when things get serious, will lift up his hat to reveal his face...which he doesn't have.
  • Power Born of Madness: The general idea behind the Cabal's dementia magic. Some willingly give in to the madness to attain greater power; only the true masters can maintain their sanity.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Cabal's all about profit, and some types of evil are simply bad for business.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Pardic barbarians, of which Kamahl and Jeska are members (and Balthor too, sort of).
  • Psychic Link: Between Laquatus and his familiar. Empress Llawan manages to exploit this, spying on Laquatus by eavesdropping on his mental conversations.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Among the cephalids, Llawan is the only authority figure who is not evil. For the Nothern Order, both Captain Pianna and Commander Eesha are this.
  • Reforged into a Minion: Balthor is killed by Laquatus, then reanimated by Braids to seek revenge.
  • Sanity Slippage: Chainer's Torment. It's more or less right there in the title.
  • Sequel Hook: Ambassador Laquatus is finally defeated by Judgment, but the Mirari is still around and is now sounding its siren song to the entire Krosan Forest. Also, Jeska is resurrected by Braids as the powerful new Cabalist Phage.
  • Snake People: Chainer creates some as henchmen.
  • The Starscream
    • Laquatus, to Aboshan.
    • At the height of his madness, Chainer attempts to overthrow the First and become the new ruler of the Cabal.
  • Taken for Granite: Occurs en masse when Kirtar loses control of the Mirari.
  • Taking You with Me: Balthor attempts this on Laquatus. He manages to kill Burke, but Laquatus gets away.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Or rather too crazy, but Braids is unfazed by the visions the Mirari shows her.
  • Touch of Death: The Cabal Patriarch's touch is so lethal that he employs a team of handservants just to interact with people in the ways he can't.
  • Tyke Bomb: Chainer was adopted by the Cabal at a young age and the Cabal Patriarch explicitly sees him as the Cabal's future. He later comes to regret this when his decision to kill Chainer's mentor Skellum results in Chainer turning on him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Lamar, a barbarian sentry who sees Jeska knocking Balthor unconscious, and, believing she's killed him, rushes to tell Kamahl, who attacks Jeska in a fit of rage, mortally wounding her, inadvertently setting up the events of the Onslaught Cycle.
  • Uriah Gambit: Used by the Cabal Patriarch to get rid of Skellum.
  • Uplifted Animal: Laquatus's jack Turg shows signs of becoming this before his death. Originally a non-sentient anurid, Turg begins acquiring sentience through his Psychic Link to Laquatus, taking on his master's more unsavory personality traits and almost becoming a living version of Laquatus's id. Laquatus is amused by this, though he also tries to curb it through Mind Rape as it is inconvenient to his plans (and he doesn't really want a sentient jack anyway).
  • Villain Protagonist: Ambassador Laquatus, both a POV character and a villain.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Laquatus can be charming when he wants to be, and cultivates his share of sympathizers both above and below the waves.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: Subverted. After Kirtar loses control of the Mirari, he and many other members of the Order end up getting transformed into crystal. Later, Laquatus is visiting the Citadel; his tour guide, Treal, shows him a room filled with statues of the Order's leaders. When he sees the statue of Captain Pianna depicting her cowering in fear rather than in a heroic pose like the other statues, he's briefly horrified until Treal explains that it's only a replica.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Prolonged exposure to the Mirari usually has this effect.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Empress Llawan, the wife of Aboshan. Despite being a Reasonable Authority Figure as cephalids go, she struggles to compete with both the insane Aboshan and scheming Laquatus for her people's loyalty.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Laquatus schemes long-term, but he frequently alters his plans on the fly when new opportunities or setbacks arise.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: This is the fate of quite a few unlucky underlings throughout the trilogy, as well as Skellum.

Alternative Title(s): Chainers Torment