on April 18, 2009
As the other reviewers have said, this book is very good for an MTG novel. I was surprised at how well the author balanced the exploration of sheer power that planeswalkers posses in the setting and the soul searching (though often adolescent) that the use of such power for personal gain can bring about. The main characters are well written; they have enough in the way of archetypes to make them readily understandable, yet have enough individuality to make them capable of surprising the reader.
All in all, the book was a light and enjoyable read cover to cover, though the structure of the first half (flashback technique) left me slightly confused for a bit.
on February 25, 2009
"Agents of Artifice" tells the story of the Planeswalker Jace Beleren, a powerful mage capable of traveling between the many worlds of the Multiverse, and his adventures and misadventures with the Infinite Consortium. From the beginning the reader will discover that not everything is as it seems.
The story has a little something for everyone: lots of action and adventure, a large dose of magic, and a diverse set of characters. In addition to Jace, we are introduced to Khallist, a skilled fighter, Liliana Vess, a powerful necromancer, Emmara, the Elven healer, and Tezzeret, the leader of the Infinite Consortium. I found the characters interesting and well thought-out.
Overall the plot/story was interesting and well written. While a few of the plot `twists' were not really a surprise, the story more than made up for it. I found the story exciting and well paced. But as mentioned above, it was really the characters that made the book for me. One of the more interesting aspects of the book for me was the development of Jace's character over the course of the story and the emotions he experiences due to situations that were often beyond his control.
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to readers looking for character-driven fantasy, especially if they like their fantasy heavy with magic. I'd also recommend the book to fans of the Magic the Gathering novel line.
I should note that it is not necessary to have any knowledge of Magic the Gathering to enjoy this novel. I had never played the game or read a Magic the Gathering novel before reading "Agents of Artifice" and I was able to follow everything. In fact, I enjoyed the novel so much I plan to pick up some more novels in the line.
on December 29, 2012
Every character is written exactly the same way in this book, and unfortunately that character is fairly immature and annoying. It would be one thing if the main character, Jace, were actually developing and maturing intentionally through this phase of adolescent, arrogant snottiness, but it is clear that this is the sole persona the author finds interesting, and he proceeds to prescribe it to each character. It seems less and less fitting when applied to the centuries-old witch or to the multi-conglomerate mastermind villain than it does the young developing Mage who leads the plot. Each other character's traits beg for a unique personality, making it quite a shame that they're all reduced to share just one.
The vocabulary and verbal artistry in this book are actually great, and the backdrop of Ravnica and the Magic univse is so interesting. There are certainly moments where that shines, and it allows some unique diversity to the storytelling. Still, the one-dimensional characters anchor the ship, and it's not much of a voyage.
So close, yet so far away.
Agents of the Infinite Consortium are hot on the trail of Jace Beleren, and will stop at nothing to wipe him out. They will pay any price to kill Jace, but just what has he done to earn their ire? It’s a long story of a talented young mage, whose desire to learn more about his magic caused him to align with the wrong man – a massively powerful wizard whose thirst for power knows absolutely no bounds. It’s the start of a battle that will be waged from world to world, and in the spaces in between.
Overall, I found this to be a very interesting book. It’s a great story, full of action and very interesting magic. There are elves in the story, but the author refused to follow the traditional, Tolkienesque route with them. Indeed, they form a very minor part of the story indeed.
Now, the one thing I do have against the book is that it seems to start out in the middle of the story, and then it quickly drops into a flashback that forms the bulk of the book. It is a clever plot device, and I can see why the author did it. But, nonetheless, I did find it somewhat confusing, and it broke the rhythm of the story for me.
But, that said, this is a very interesting book, one that I really enjoyed reading. If you want to read a very good fantasy book, but want to bypass the typical sword-and-sorcery/elf-and-dwarf story, then get this book. You will enjoy it!
on May 12, 2013
This is the second book I bought my 18-year-old grandson to encourage him to love reading. These books are related to a popular card game all the kids play now called 'Magic'. He read the first book in 4 days and asked for this one next. He 'borrowed' my Kindle to read them and I guess I won't be using it myself for a while. (I've been reading my books on my laptop, which is a little bulky when I'm used to the convenient size of my Kindle). He's really enjoying this book, so I recommend it for older teens due to subject matter.
on August 20, 2013
Though this novel (and others) is based on the Magic: the Gathering card game, one does not need knowledge of the game to enjoy the novel. If you like spellcasting, swordfighting, and travel between worlds (plus walking talking rat people and things going boom), then you'll probably like this novel.
on April 14, 2013
Well fleshed out stories for some of the most popular planeswalkers. If you like magic the gathering, the flavor text on the cards, or just good stories involving beings with great power, then this book will keep you reading.
on March 15, 2013
I agree with a lot of the other reviews in that some of the dialogue is a little childish if not straight up unbelievable, but there were very, very few points where this really took away from the overall story experience. Once in a while I'd reread something a character said, thinking "not only would this character not say this, NOBODY would ever say this in real life." But, frankly, most of the times this happened it was an attempt at comedy (a lot of times a successful attempt, too), not something integral to the storyline-- so it truly didn't bother me.
Overall it's a pretty awesome story and had good action and pacing, and I've read MUCH worse MTG novels, especially in those terms (I'm looking at you, Planeswalker...). A definite step in the right direction, would recommend to most avid fantasy readers and definitely to MTG fans.
Ari Marmell’s Agents of Artifice is a planeswalker novel based on the Magic: the Gathering card game, and it does an admirable job of feeling like a novel, not a game translated to paper.
Jace Beleren, Kallist Rhoka, and Lilliana Vess have a complicated relationship. Jace and Kallist worked together for a group called the Infinite Consortium. Now Jace and Kallist are no longer friends, and Kallist and Lilliana are hunted by the Consortium’s goons. Khallist’s swordplay and minor magics, together with Lilliana’s necromancy, are enough to hold them for the moment, but they need to find Jace and warn him of an upcoming attack on his life—which means walking toward the battle, not running away from it.
The story and plot are complex, wheels within wheels, fun to tease apart. Unfortunately they’re told out of order. I couldn’t see any way in which this added to the tension or storytelling, but it definitely added to the confusion. I have no problem with time-twisting storytelling techniques when they’re done for a very good reason, and I think that in this case they did more harm than good. Not a deal-breaker, but not the best choice either. I realize Marmell did it in order to hide a plot development from the reader, but as author Tobias Buckell has shown to great effect, sometimes the better choice is simply to reveal the secret and rely on your plot to stand on its feet without that—which I think this one was strong enough to do.
The out-of-order story doesn’t help the fact that the main character, Jace, is difficult to sympathize with. It’s hard enough to find enough to like in him without being misled for the first part of the book into thinking Kallist is the main character. Since I found Kallist at least a little more likable, the realization that he wasn’t even the main character of the book made it harder to become invested in Jace.
That said, if you’re along for the plot and don’t care all that much about getting invested in your main character, there’s plenty here to sink your teeth into! The fights are highly cinematic and read like movie scenes. The villains are suitably evil, and Lilliana’s necromantic abilities are horrifying. The layers of backstabbing and betrayal keep things jumping, and the variety of worlds and locales depicted will give you plenty of inspiration.
NOTE: Review book provided by publisher
on September 3, 2009
I had purchased this book at a Friday Night Magic session a few months back. By then, they had already sold out of the Jace cards (of course). Nevertheless, I picked up the book as well as the Divine vs. Demonic pack and went on my way.
I must say that the first chapter or so of this book is a bit tedious, but good things truly do come to those who wait. I very much like how the author incorporated multiple planeswalkers into his novel, even though my personal favorite doesn't make it in the end (or does he?), as well as how he develops Jace's character. Granted, some of the other characters are left somewhat incomplete, but this can be expected as they are not as vital to the story. Once I muddled through the first few chapters I couldn't put this book down!
On the whole, much better than the Shadowmoor book and even the Llorwyn and Morningtide books. I highly reccomend this book!