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Come Little Children, I'll Take Thee Away...

Alright, so this isn't Hocus Pocus, but there is some Magic story afoot! Howdy folks! It's Joe again, one of the resident Vorthos, and I'm here to talk about the newest entry in the vast world that is the Magic: The Gathering storyline. I'm speaking of course about Brandon Sanderson's novella Children of the Nameless.

Since the day she was born, Tacenda has been both blessed and cursed. When her protective spell fails in the night and her Kessig village is attacked, she seeks revenge against whom she believes responsible: the demon-consorting Lord of the Manor.

For those of you who don't know who the man is, Brandon Sanderson is a renowned American Fantasy author well known for his works set in the Cosmere universe (notably the Misbtborn series and The Stormlight Archive). He's also responsible for finishing Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. When I found out that Brandon was going to be putting out a novella based in the world of Magic: The Gathering, I just knew that I needed to do a review of it. Not only do I really enjoy Magic: The Gathering stories, but I also really enjoy Fantasy fiction as well, as a budding writer of Fantasy fiction myself. (I have a book I've been working on for TWO YEARS SEND HELP!)

So, without further ado, let's delve right into the meat of things and talk Children of the Nameless. Forewarning folks, there could be minor spoilers ahead, so if you haven't yet read the story I will do my best to not be as spoilery.

Children of the Nameless

At around 127 pages long, Children of the Nameless starts us right off by introducing us to Tacenda, a young girl who lives in the province of Kessig on the shadowy plane of Innistrad. The area her village, known as Verlasen, is situated in an area called the Approaches, and it sits near what is referred to in the story as the Bog (IMPORTANT). Tacenda is a girl who is cursed and blessed. She and her twin sister (Willia) both suffer from this curse. During the day, Tacenda's sight is completely gone, and during the night she can see. Her sister is the reverse opposite of this. Both sisters manifest a measure of talent, Willia with a sword, but Tacenda with the music of a song.

Tacenda's music is powerful enough that it even manages to drive off some of Innistrad's more shadowy denizens (monsters, geists, and werewolves oh my!). Thus, Tacenda takes up protecting the small village at day and night, sitting in the town square singing her protection songs. It is after the twin's fifteenth birthday that our story picks up and begins.

Tacenda's village is attacked, the villagers killed by an unseen force (unseen to her at least, since the attack happens during the day while Tacenda is blind). Tacenda takes it upon herself to find and destroy what she assumes is the source of this attack, a shadowy local Lord who lives nearby whom the locals refer to as the Man of the Manor. It is when Tacenda arrives at the Manor and attempts to murder him with a rusty icepick that we first meet the Planeswalker known as Davriel.

Davriel is an absolute delight of a character, I just want to say. It is strangely refreshing to meet a Planeswalker character as multi-faceted as he felt within the story. We don't get much of his backstory throughout the course of the novella, only that Davriel's talents are in the realm of stealing magic from others and that at some point in his past, he stole the magic of what he calls "The Entity," an unseen voice that speaks to him several times throughout the story. Davriel 'walked to Innistrad to presumably get away from those who would seek the Entity's power and kill him for it, in addition to the high population of demons that Innistrad boasts. Davriel's other talents involve his work as a diabolist, a study of demons and devils.

Naturally, we are introduced to a small cadre of characters that Davriel lives with, including Miss Highwater (a succubus who conveniently knows how to balance ledgers), Crunchgnar (a obliviously stupid and ugly Hartmut Demon (whose contract with Davriel consists of actually keeping him alive until he's 65 years old or it becomes null and void)), and Brerig (a demon tied to a contract of having to answer a riddle given to him by Davriel (which is probably one of the most amusing parts of the story). These characters I feel added a lot to defining how Davriel views the world that he lives in and also how he views others, as well as how he comes to regard Tacenda. During the course of the story, Tacenda gradually comes from being afraid and angry with Davriel to understanding him and his cadre of demons and devils.

Tacenda herself is a very interesting character, as her music and magic are explored throughout the novella, and I think in general this is where the strength of this novella lies. The characters are interesting, well thought out, and different. It's also interesting enough to focus on characters that have absolutely nothing to do with the main Magic storyline, or even had nothing to do with the Shadows over Innistrad storyline. However, it is worth noting that the events of that block are referenced during the course of this story, placing Children a year after Avacyn went mad and Emrakul was sealed inside the moon.

The pacing throughout the story felt very well done. It didn't feel rushed and the action sequences that involved Davriel felt engaging and fun to read. Davriel's humorous nature, combined with Tacenda's seriousness made for a wonderfully interesting character dynamic between the two of them.

If there's anything that I actually didn't like about this novella, is that there isn't more to it. Davriel as a character is excessively interesting to desire more content with him in it, to even know just a little bit more about the Entity and what it is. I certainly hope that we see Davriel again in a storyline, and I hope that he is penned by Sanderson then as well. Even further it would be interesting to see Davriel on a Magic card, given that his abilities feel very Grixis colored in nature and it would be a more interesting type of Grixis Planeswalker than Nicol Bolas (who is the only Grixis aligned walker we've had). And of course, it would be even more interesting to see Tacenda get her own card as well.

In addition, I think the decision to set this story on Innistrad was an absolute slam dunk. Innistrad has a wildly deep world to delve into, even more interesting it seems after the events of Shadows over Innistrad. It's stories like this that really enforce bringing in outside authors like Sanderson is indeed a very good idea. Even if they weren't written by Sanderson, I would love to see future novella entries of this nature.

In short, you should most assuredly (if you haven't already) read this novella if you enjoy the Magic storyline at all. Even if the regular storyline doesn't thrill you, give Children of the Nameless a whirl. It's interesting, well-paced, and the characters will engage you. It was a fantastic addition to the world of Magic: The Gathering, one that I hope isn't Sanderson's last. If this is the kind of quality that Wizards of the Coast is pulling for their bigger productions, the Ravnica book is going to be very interesting indeed, and that makes me very, very excited.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for now folks! Did you read the novella? What were your thoughts on it? Who was your favorite character? Please let me know down below in the comments. I will be very intrigued to speak with you guys on what you thought about it!

Until next time!

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