- Mass Market Paperback: 297 pages
- Publisher: HarperEntertainment (October 16, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061054240
- ISBN-13: 978-0061054242
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 175 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Arena (Magic - The Gathering, No. 1) Mass Market Paperback – October 16, 1994
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About the Author
William R. Forstchen, author of several dozen books in the fields of science fiction, history, and historical fiction, resides in western North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Purdue University and is a professor of history at Montreat College. His works include the coauthored, New York Times bestselling series Gettysburg, written with Newt Gingrich, the Lost Regiment series, and the award-winning We Look Like Men of War, a novel based on his doctoral dissertation about an African American regiment in the Civil War. He spends most summers in Mongolia, doing archaeological and historical research, and his current hobby is the restoration and flying of a replica P-51 Mustang fighter plane.
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It is what it is, the book wont change your life, but it was a quick fun read.
Its some really early work from William Forstchen, who was obviously struggling to hone his craft when he did this. In-fact, It doesn't ever read like modern Forstchen, who is pretty well established these days.
But all in all, it captured the mechanics of the game in a real (fantasy) world setting quite well. You can tell he did a little research on the subject.
If you like MTG and can find this at a good price (don't overpay for it unless you are a fanatical collector), then you wont be disappointed.
The book is a short read, one that flows effortlessly from one page to the next. At times the writing is a little simplistic but this does nothing more than enhance the plot and make you enjoy the use of mana and the casting of spells. The focus of the book, and there is a lot of it, is the dueling, in and out of the arena. Garth is mysterious and you greedily read on to see what he does next, or what he has in his little bag of tricks. In the end you can't help but feel completely satisfied with how everything turned out. The only slight criticism is the love interests. With very little development you suddenly have strangers falling in love with Garth. It is quite sudden and makes you scratch your head wondering why it was so forced when the rest of the plot is so well thought out.
This was the third time I have read it (this time because I recently played the PSN game) and enjoyed it just the same, if not more, as when I read it for the first time in 1996. A definite recommend.
This authorship is top notch. I recently read a more modern MTG book, and this aspect of their quality is not even comparable. The storytelling, descriptions, directing, even the verbiage are so far superior in this book...it's just well done, and it makes it a pleasure.
As far as story goes, had I read this back when it came out I would have gawked equally as hard at Gladiator for their blatant similarities as I did when I played through Final Fantasy VII and then watched Avatar. The storyline has so many similarities, obviously the key difference being the universes that they do not share between fantasy and history. The greatest common factor though is excellence, and this is a fantastic story.
Last but not least, the characters here are rich and diverse. They have history and motive, and feel very real. The main character is a great combination of confidence, calmness, and mystery, and his interactions with other characters are always interesting.
If you are in the market for a exciting fantasy read. This book is awesome. I compare most fantasy books I read to this book, hoping they will live up this one. Some come close, LoTR tops it, but most books just don't stack up, in my opinion.
The story is solid, characters memorable, and the book isn't overly short or long, just right. Players of the card game will instantly recognize that the book follows most of the basic concepts presented in the game (the casters require bags of dirt representing the different colors of mana, summoned creatures, even the Lord of the Pit makes an appearance, and requires sacrifices of creatures just like in the card game).
Even if you've never played the game, Arena is an exciting book, with plenty of action when required, enough dialogue to keep you interested (but never bored), and a cast of characters that you likely won't forget.