Writer - J. Robert King
Cover art - Brom
Interior art - Brian "Chippy" Dugan, Dana Knutson, Todd Lockwood, Anson Maddocks, R.K. Post, Mark Tedin & Anthony Waters.
First released in June 2001
We open up on Gerrard and Urza kneeling in front of Yawgmoth in the Ninth Sphere, which has been formed into an arena. Yawgmoth tells the two to fight for their greatest desire: the resurrection of Hanna and the chance to study under Yawgmoth respectively. So they do. For almost half the book. Urza has a number of near-wins, but each time Yawgmoth comes up with a reason why it doesn't count. During the fight Gerrard learns to manipulate the flowstone all around him and eventually he manages to decapitate Urza. Yawgmoth then blesses Gerrard with a tenfold increase in strength, endurance, intelligence and will. But Gerrard had shaken off the command of Yawgmoth during the battle, and when it looks like Hanna comes forward to collect Urza's head, he strikes her with his halberd instead, correctly guessing that the Hanna-simulacrum would be where Yawgmoth hid his essence. Before he can follow it up with a killing blow Yawgmoth ejects him from Phyrexia, back to the Stronghold.
Meanwhile on Dominaria, Karn reveals what he meant by that last line in Planeshift. Apparently he threw the Thran Tome across the room in a fit of rage and discovered a secret way of opening it. Combined with his regained memory this allows him to get new secrets out of the magic book, including a full history of the Bloodlines and the Legacy. He then says that the Thran Tome contains the memory of the Weatherlight and that it will transform the ship in the same way his own memories have tranformed him. Then suddenly there is light beaming out of the book and the Weatherlight starts repairing itself. It comes out stronger and faster than ever, and gains sentience!
(And if you think that's really vague and would like more of an explanation... well, so would I. But let's wait for the review to start complaining!)
Now that the ship is sentient, Multani can no longer live in its wood, as he had been doing since rendezvousing with the crew in Invasion, so he heads home to Yavimaya, only to discover it has been completely spared since the first wave of invaders was defeated. Thus he decides to sacrifice himself (he will regrow eventually, but he's not sure whether that will take decades or even centuries) to transport part of Yavimaya and its fighters to Urborg. Aided by these new arrivals Eladamri, Li(i)n Siv(v)i and Grizzlegom fight their way into the Stronghold volcano. On their way there they discover a bunch of dwarves who plan on activating the volcano to destroy the Phyrexian command center.
After being dumped into the Stronghold Gerrard chases away Ertai and is reunited with Squee, who is now effectively immortal, coming back from the dead every time he is killed. Ertai summons Crovax back from the battlefield, and he and Gerrard have a long, drawn out slugfest. Ertai meanwhile returns to his rejuvenation chamber, but Squee follows him and fiddles with the controls, killing the wizard. Gerrard eventually kills Crovax, but is then faced with hordes of Stronghold forces. Luckily Urza's head suddenly springs to life and kills all those new arrivals with his eye-beams. Then the rest of the Weatherlight crew and the Coalition forces arrive and all the good guys make their escape, just as the dwarves trigger the volcano.
While all this is going on the remaining Titans, Freyalise, Lord Windgrace, Bo Levar and Commodore Guff, have been going around and detonating the bombs they hid throughout Phyrexia manually, as Urza destroyed the master switch when he switched sides last novel. They succeed, but as they watch Phyrexia collapse in on itself Guff reveals that he knows the future because he edited the story, and let's slip that none of this matters since Yawgmoth is moving into Dominaria anyway. Just before the lava consumes it, he emerges from the portal inside the Stronghold in the form af a gigantic cloud that kills whatever it touches and resurrects the dead.
Bo Levar talks some sense into Guff and gets him to erase the story he approved, leaving the ending open. Just after he does the death cloud eats him. Levar decides to sacrifice himself to save a merfolk artist colony from the cloud. Freyalise spends her supposed last moments in the Skyshroud forest, while Lord Windgrace takes Grizzlegom and a small part the Hurloon army home for once last fight. The rest of the Coalition army is destroyed either by the cloud, or by gigantic humus elementals that form when Yawgmoth resurrects the dead soil on Urborg. Eladamri and Li(i)n Siv(v)i commit suicide by jumping from a magnigoth treefolk, as a last act of defying Yawgmoth.
In the end the whole book devolves into a series of failed plans to stop Yawgmoth. First the Weatherlight crashes a Phyrexian ship into the Stronghold volcano to prevent Yawgmoth from escaping it. But that fails as he just oozes around it. Then Urza suggests a really bizarre plan, saying that the Legacy artifacts contain many worlds, while Gerrard somehow contains many heroes. He wants to crack open both, destroying half of Dominaria by letting out those planes, and then having the army of heroes that would spring from Gerrard's head reconquer the other hemisphere. Sisay thinks it's all nonsense, saying Urza just came up with another Sylex Blast. So instead they go with another plan, which involves cracking the Null Moon, which has been collecting white mana ever since Thran times. They fly through it, sacrificing the Weatherlight to channel the energy into a Yawgmoth-killing blast... only for that to barely makes a dent in him. Then Gerrard and Urza come up with a post-last-ditch idea, rip Urza's eyes out and place them in Karn's chest. Which results in a big light and thus Yawgmoth is defeated. Somehow. All over Dominaria the Phyrexian forces go catatonic after the death of their leader, allowing even children to kill them.
One years later the people of Dominaria gather at Urborg to see Freyalise unveil a monument to the fallen. There the Weatherlight crew is visited by Karn, who has merged with Urza, Gerrard and the entire Legacy and has become a planeswalker. He takes Orim to Mercadia so she can marry Cho-Manno. Sisay, Tahngarth and Squee leave for more adventures on a new ship, which they dub the Victory.
- This book is dedicated to "Jaya, DragonTrainer, and all the fans". Jaya and DragonTrainer where frequent posters on the Phyrexia.com forums. I've looked, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find any posts by them reacting to this dedication.
- J. Robert King puts some really weird references to Judaism in this book. While battling Gerrard, Urza creatures a bunch of golems with the "Thran" word for "truth", "Emeth", on their foreheads. Gerrard erases the first letter, creating "Meth", the "Thran" word for "death" to destroy them. Even weirder is that the pneumagogs (which were already pretty fricking weird when they suddenly appeared last time) are now described as having six wings, two of which they use to cover their faces and two to cover their feet. So... the Inner Circle members of Phyrexia are Seraphim?
- Guff's meta jokes start to really annoy me here. Here he is no longer based on Scott McGough, he just is Scott McGough. When he starts erasing the future he produces the Invasion cycle itself, in the form of three books ducttaped together! If that's how the editor sees the books, I feel entirely justified in my decision to review all three as a single post!
- When the four remaining Titans find Taysir's dead body, Lord Windgrace tears out his fallen comrade's heart and places it in his own chest, apparently an Urborgan ritual to save people from being zombified by necromancers. This scene led to a lot of speculation about Taysir returning from the dead at some point. Perhaps Windgrace could've dropped the heart off with the Anaba Ancestors again, as those guys brought him back last time. But we never hear from him again.
- It is revealed that the magnigoth treefolk that ate Rith is Nemata. I always though Verdeloth looked more magnigoth-ish, but apparently it's not him.
- When part of Yavimaya is transported to Urborg Multani's spirit dissipates for "years, or decades, or centuries". We'll see him again in Future Sight.
- At one point Crovax is hit by a saproling which is described as "as large as a rhino but with the consistency of pus." Which is gross, but also kind strange. Even the saprolings shown on Fervent Charge aren't that big! There must have been some magic floating around.
- Crovax says he reanimated Squee, rather than Yawgmoth. Sounds like he got a few more power-upgrades since Nemesis!
- Gerrard's power-up allows him to counter Ertai's spells by waving his axe around in the exact opposite movements as those that are needed to summon the spell!
- We are told a "King Famebraught the Ninth" once visited Phyrexia, as Commodore Guff reads about Gamalgoth in a book that Famebraught wrote. We can add him to the list of people who made trips to the Nine Hells. Back in the Antiquities comics we learned of Jarsyl and a Morath who also wrote about their visits (Jarsyl was referenced in the cards and in The Gathering Dark, but Morath was never heard from again), and in the Encyclopedia Dominia we saw Tande take a trip there.
- From Guff's reading we learn that Gamalgoth means "creature garden" in
- In this book we see some part from Yawgmoth's point of view. One of the chapters is even called "Yawgmoth". That chapter is accompanied by the picture below, which led to some speculation that that was what Big Y looked like. Most likely it's just a random Phyrexian though. It is made pretty clear that Yawgmoth doesn't have a proper body anymore, he just manifests as whatever he wants to look like. Big dragon, Hanna, horde of monsters, deathcloud...
|Pictures stolen from this post by Caranthir on MTGSally.|
- The merfolk artist colony Bo Levar saves is called the Eliterates. They are actually a pretty cool throwback to the story "Return of the Empress" from the Encyclopedia Dominia. We are told that "as artists had once fled the oppression of old Vodalia, so too they fled the oppression of the Etlan-Shiis." We will see these guys again in a future anthology.
- Karn's first planeswalk is to the Fountain of Cho on Mercadia.
- The Phyrexians are in stupor after the death of Yawgmoth, and can be taken down by anyone. But that does seem to allow for remnants of their forces to still be out there in regions where they succeeded in killing everyone. This will get picked up in later anthologies and the book Dragons: Worlds Afire.
- The "Heroes Obelisk" Freyalise unveils at the end is not quite like what we see in the art of Martyrs' Tomb. For one, it has Urza and Gerrard's heads on a massive display, and is inscribed with the names of the "brave fallen". I would argue that Urza and Gerrard don't deserve to get such prime placement in the memorial. Those guys joined Yawgmoth for personal gain!
- Oh, and the thing is located at Crovax's old estate. It will make further appearances in Scourge and Time Spiral block.
- Karn doesn't act very Karnish at the end. Instead he very much sounds like your standard, aloof, self-important planeswalker.
- After the ceremony the crew talks about their feelings, and Orim tells Sisay that carrying Dominaria is a heavier burden than saving it. Immediately afterwards she reveals she's leaving the plane for Mercadia! I don't know what sort of vows a Samite healer takes, but you'd think she would want to help her own home recover rather than abandoning it! I wonder what Sisay thinks of her after that!
- The set Apocalypse has some hints that the Rathi overlay was causing mutations, with cards like the Volvers, Gaea's Skyfolk and Razorfin Hunter. None of that is present in this book.
- This book spells out that Sisay and Crovax where part of the Bloodlines project.
- The Thran Tome says Urza scattered the Legacy artifacts. That seems to clash with the backstory given in Rath and Storm (and the rest of Rath block) where Gerrard had most of the parts initially, until Vuel sold them off. But maybe we could argue that the Tome was just referring to things like the Bones of Ramos that did end up on another plane (even though Ramos' supposed reprogramming happened millennia before Urza dreamed up the Legacy...)
- Speaking of Ramos, Urza repeats the final origin given for him in Mercadian Masques, even though there is no way that matches with what we saw in The Brothers' War. There goes my theory it was actually Mishra who became Ramos!
- Metathran are said to be part blue dragon. This will be expanded upon in The Dragons of Magic.
- Bo Levar is revealed to be captain Crucias from The Colors of Magic. Turns out that he didn't just survive the Sylex Blast, he ascended though it!
- Karn somehow knows the true origin of the Null Moon. Must've read it in the Thran Tome I guess.
- Worse, Urza somehow knows about Glacian! Since when?! And he even says that Glacian instructed him and Mishra in artifice through the Might- and Weakstone, which is entirely new information! He must have done some deeeeeeeeeeeeeeep digging into the origins of his eyes behind the scenes!
- And while we are on the subject of people knowing things they shouldn't: Gerrard knows about Radiant, and how she plucked out Urza's eyes back during Time Streams! He is reminded of it while he takes out Urza's eyes himself. Did Urza go about telling people about that event? Or was the Gerrard/Urza/Karn merger already beginning at that point, and did memories of the one make it into the brain of the other?
- While flying through the Null Moon the Weatherlight crew sees the mummified corpses of the artificers that launched it into orbit from The Thran.
- When she is about to sacrifice herself the Weatherlight asks Karn to let her live on in him, like Xantcha does.
- Yawgmoth thinks Rebbec is Gaea. He also seems to believe the origin myth we saw in the "Phyrexian Creations" story from The Myths of Magic. That is really odd, as Tsabo Tavoc knew his true origin during Invasion. He also thinks the Mishra from last book was real, but follows that up by thinking the Weatherlight is the Thran Temple Rebbec created during The Thran. Yawgmoth is clearly beyond insane at this point, so I never understood why so many people took his claim that Rebbec is Gaea seriously.
- Witch-Engines are presented as the worst thing Phyrexia can throw at the planeswalkers. Worse even than Inner Circle members, as Lord Windgrace blasts the pneumagogs apart with minimal effort. Aside from the clear problems with planeswalker powerlevels this indicates (Gix could almost take down Urza, but Windgrace takes down many Inner Circle members, so the planeswalkers have gotten more powerful... except that Urza could nearly destroy several spheres of Phyrexia on his own, but now nine planeswalkers need to put in a lot of effort to do so, so Phyrexia has gotten more powerful?), this also makes me wonder: whatever happened to the Negators? In Bloodlines Urza was continuously getting pestered by them, but they haven't made a single appearance in the entire Invasion cycle!
And that was Apocalypse! As you've probably noticed, I only barely manged to stop myself from launching into a review, so I'd better get to work on writing that out immediately. My aim is to put the review of the entire Invasion cycle up tomorrow. See you then!