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The Bookish Owl – War of the Spark: Ravnica by Greg Weisman

War of the Spark: Ravnica by Greg Weisman

Next up is War of the Spark: Ravnica by Greg Weisman.

As the name might suggest, this is a Magic: The Gathering tie-in novel. I have not played the trading card game, but lots of my friends are obsessed with it and some of them invited me to join a Dungeons & Dragons campaign set in the MTG world Ravnica.

Do you know how hard it is to make a good character backstory when you know nothing about the world said character lives in?

It’s pretty damn hard.

So I went into research mode after the first session. But the info dumps I got from watching YouTubers talk lore were a bit hard to keep straight in my head. But luckily for a bookworm like me, there’s also Magic: The Gathering novels! And it turns out that they (or at least the one I have read at the moment of writing this) are even quite good.

It was a bit hard to keep track of the large cast of characters in War of the Spark: Ravnica, but it’s written in such a way that even Magic noobs like myself can easily follow the story. And when I played D&D last Saturday, I recognized a name mentioned in passing by an NPC (Kaya, who had failed the mission we were about to be given) and immediately knew what that meant. Even better,  I got to explain character lore to one of my fellow players who plays a lot of MTG.

Yes, I’m a smug bastard when I suddenly know things.

Long story short: This is a good book, and I now know who all the people trying to kill me in my D&D campaign are.


War of the Spark: Ravnica
by Greg Weisman

Teyo Verada wants nothing more than to be a shieldmage, wielding arcane energies to protect his people from his world’s vicious diamondstorms. When he’s buried alive in the aftermath of his first real tempest, the young mage’s life is about to end before it can truly begin—until it doesn’t. In a flash, a power he didn’t know he had whisks him away from his home, to a world of stone, glass, and wonder: Ravnica. Teyo is a Planeswalker, one of many to be called to the world-spanning city—all lured by Nicol Bolas, the Elder Dragon. Bolas lays siege to the city of Ravnica, hungry for the ultimate prize: godhood itself. His unparalleled magic and unstoppable army appear poised to bring the city to utter ruin.

Among those who stand in the way of Bolas’s terrifying machinations are the Gatewatch, Planeswalkers sworn to defeat evil, no matter where it’s found. But as they work to unite the other mages and mount a defense of the city and its people, the terrifying truth of Bolas’s plan becomes clear. The Elder Dragon has prepared a trap to ensnare the most powerful mages from across the Multiverse—and it’s too late to escape.

As forces great and small converge on the city and the battle rages, the stakes could not be higher. If the Gatewatch falters and the Planeswalkers fail, the curtain will fall on the age of heroes—and rise on the infinite reign of Nicol Bolas.


War of the Spark: Ravnica by Greg Weisman

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The Bookish Owl – Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider

Dragon Age The Stolen Throne

Here be dragons! Just in case the ‘dragon’ in Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider didn’t clue you in…

The Stolen Throne is the prequel to Dragon Age: Origins, the first game in one of my all-time favorite video game franchises. And it follows Prince Maric, the father of my all-time favorite character Alistair, during his rebellion against the Orlesian usurper of the Fereldan throne. You also get to see a lot of Loghain, Jackass Supreme in Origins, but very nearly likable in this book.

Though still a jackass.

While The Stolen Throne is a good and well-written book, I think I had expected a bit more from something written by David Gaider, who was the lead writer for Dragon Age: Origins. The thing about the Dragon Age games is that they have characters you can’t help falling in love with, but the characters in this book didn’t make much of an impact on me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them well enough and I enjoyed the book… but it just didn’t have that special something I get from the games.


If you’re a fan of the Dragon Age games as well, check out my rambling post on my favorite DA companions! Or wait around for my future Bookish Owl post on Hard in Hightown by Varric Tethras…


Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne
by David Gaider

After his mother, the beloved Rebel Queen, is betrayed and murdered by her own faithless lords, young Maric becomes the leader of a rebel army attempting to free his nation from the control of a foreign tyrant.

His countrymen live in fear; his commanders consider him untested; and his only allies are Loghain, a brash young outlaw who saved his life, and Rowan, the beautiful warrior maiden promised to him since birth. Surrounded by spies and traitors, Maric must find a way to not only survive but achieve his ultimate destiny: Ferelden’s freedom and the return of his line to the stolen throne. 


Dragon Age The Stolen Throne

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Do I Play Too Much Heroes of the Storm? Why Yes. Yes, I do

Not many think much of Heroes of the Storm after Blizzard pulled the plug on its eSport’s scene – throwing in the towel and admitting to League of Legends that they win – but it’s still my MOBA of choice. Possibly because it’s less popular, meaning I have less 12-year olds shouting at me than if I went to LoL…

But I play too much. Waaay too much. Fair enough, I have been playing ever since the alpha, but as of writing this, I’m level 1167. 1167. You don’t even have to know anything about Heroes of the Storm or similar games to know that that’s too much.

But what can I say? It’s my go-to game whenever I just want to kick back and not think too much.

Heroes of the Storm

My favorite hero is Nazeebo. He’s at level 133 for me at the moment. You get to trap people with a ring of zombies, and then throw spiders at their head when they can’t move. It’s lovely.

But Nazeebo doesn’t have the best voice lines. And that’s one of the greatest things about trying different heroes in this game: the hilarious comments they make if you click on them. I’m “only” level 46 with Brightwing, but he’s my favorite adorable psychopath. He’s a small fairy dragon with a really cutesy voice, and he says things like this:

“I like happy things. Like puppies, and rainbows, and… Dead enemies.” (Voice going from cute to a ominous whisper at ‘dead enemies’)
“I will be very happy to tear you limb from limb if you continue.” (Said all cutesy)
“Let us make their insides, outsides.”
“It’ll only hurt untill you die.”

Adorable, right?

Johanna (level 49) is great as well. She’s my kind of sarcastic:

“Jokes? You’re expecting jokes? Fine, I believe I can accommodate.”
“A crusader, a paladin, and a templar walk into a tavern…and they all have a drink.” (laughs) “No?”
“Oh Akarat, bless this, thy holy flail, that with it, thou mayest smite thine enemies into tiny, tiny, unfathomably tiny bits, in thy mercy. Let it be so.”
“Some fellow mistook me for a templar yesterday. I asked him: have you ever heard me shout ‘GLORIOUS!’ He answered, ‘I have now!'” (chuckles) “He was a witty fellow. Shame he’s dead now.”

I’ve even gotten my friends to play with me now (they’re all League of Legends players, so it took a LOT of convincing), and I keep telling them they need to play with the sound on so that they can enjoy the voice lines.

That has now resulted in our healer being miffed that Imperius – who another in our team plays as his main – merely says “Do you expect thanks for fulfilling your duty?” every time she heals him. She’s now trying to get him to play a more polite character…


I just realized that, by now, I have a whole series of rambling posts about my favorite games. So if you enjoy my utterly random way of talking about games, I have posts on:

A Newbie Demon Hunter’s Search For Pants in Diablo III 

The Witcher 3 – A Few of My Favorite Quests 

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the Powerful Desire to Punch Sokrates in the Face

and Favorite Companions in Dragon Age

The Witcher one very nearly makes sense… but you’re on your own with the rest.

 

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The Bookish Owl – Arthas by Christie Golden

Arthas by Christie Golden

It’s Warcraft time, with Arthas by Christie Golden!

I read this when it was first released, many years ago, but it was nice to revisit the story of Prince Arthas Menethil, and his transition into the Lich King, the leader of an undead army set on erasing all life on Azeroth. It’s one of the main storylines in both Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft, and I have played the franchise since I was 10 years old, so I might be a little obsessed with its lore.

Plus: Zombies.


Arthas: Rise of the Lich King
by Christie Golden

His evil is legend. Lord of the undead Scourge, wielder of the runeblade Frostmourne, and enemy of the free peoples of Azeroth. The Lich King is an entity of incalculable power and unparalleled malice — his icy soul utterly consumed by his plans to destroy all life on the World of Warcraft.

But it was not always so. Long before his soul was fused with that of the orc shaman Ner’zhul, the Lich King was Arthas Menethil, crown prince of Lordaeron and faithful paladin of the Silver Hand.

When a plague of undeath threatened all that he loved, Arthas was driven to pursue an ill-fated quest for a runeblade powerful enough to save his homeland. Yet the object of his search would exact a heavy price from its new master, beginning a horrifying descent into damnation. Arthas’s path would lead him through the arctic northern wastes toward the Frozen Throne, where he would face, at long last, the darkest of destinies.


Arthas by Christie Golden

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To Bard or Not to Bard

Dungeons and Dragons BardI recently got invited to a new Dungeons & Dragons group and I was eager to make a character that would be useful with their existing group dynamic. I was told they could use frontliners and a healer, so – since I already play a Cleric in my other D&D group – I decided to go with a paladin.

However, after a quick chat with their DM, I discovered that a paladin would find it rather difficult to fit in with this group of, as the DM called them, ‘murder hobos’.

The campaign is set in Ravnica, the cityscape from Magic: The Gathering, a world I have absolutely no knowledge of. So what do you do when you need a character with a limited sense of right and wrong, in a world where you don’t know the various factions?

You make a conwoman Bard and tell the DM to decide which guilds she has pissed off by swindling them out of their money.

Kindra Sinclair – likely a fake name – is my first Bard character, but all my characters across races, classes, and even tabletop systems, tend to end up with a tendency to cheat at card games, so when I noticed the Charlatan background in the Player’s Handbook, I figured I might as well write it into the character from the beginning. I picked College of Lore to get a few handy healing spells and then I padded my spell list with spells that would allow me to cheat, charm and swindle everyone in my path.

I have a feeling this character might not survive for long…

I also went with a rapier and a dagger with the intention of being a melee attacker, but I spent most of the first session casting Vicious Mockery, hurling insults at the enemies, before hurriedly running away from them. It was low on grace, but since the bard is the one to compose the stories after the battle, I’ll be the brave hero in the retelling.